Now a brief recap of what we have covered: Grief is a natural and normal response to enormous trauma. We discussed how it expresses itself and manifests in mind and body. Our first and difficult step is acceptance. To help in acceptance, we discussed reflection on this too shall pass/everything is impermanent. The Yoga Nidra illustrated that in a real way–witnessing the passing of all experiences, neither clinging to or rejecting anything.
Along with acceptance, impermanence, we also talked about being secure with insecurity. Yoga Nidra has possible parallels with REM sleep . Both may perhaps reprocess upsetting memories so that we can recall critical life events without the grief or the overwhelming emotions those experiences originally carried. In chronic grief, research indicating the positive change in brain biochemistry in those who practice Yoga Nidra was also covered.
As the talk turned to chronic grief, many of you were struck by what was said by a Rollo May patient, that he felt he was a mirror reflecting everyone else’s expectations. You felt that yourselves. And so it is important to know what we want, to know our needs and expectations and to express them to those around us. Learn to say no. Draw boundaries between what nurtures and what destroys. Learning to love our imperfect selves and care for ourselves without guilt. A healthy relationship with others begins with a healthy, loving relationship with our self. And the Yoga Nidra covered the various aspects within us, understanding and acceptance at all levels–physical, emotional, mental.
And that brings us to today and another teaching familiar to some of you: The situation is neutral, the reaction is not. Or, nothing is right or wrong, it is the thinking that makes it so. This has been a challenging one to contemplate and observe. There are situations where it is clearly right and we can see that when two or more people react and experience the same situation in very different ways. But it does not work in situations such as violence, abuse, torture, terrible suffering, disability, loss. These cannot be called neutral situations and do warrant a strong reaction. In our personal situations though, when we suffer from challenging family relationships, it can be very helpful to distinguish between our reaction and person and situation. Our reaction may be the source of pain and grief more than the circumstance. If we know what the true cause is, we are better able to address it. Just as the dread and rejection of grief is more painful than grief itself, in the same way our reaction to a situation may be far more painful than the situation itself. How we react when we do not get what we want, and get what we do not want?
I have talked about different aspects of being or what Yoga calls different sheaths/bodies–there are 5. The physical body, the body of vital energy or breath, the body of thoughts, the body of intellect, and the body of bliss. We go through them sequentially in Yoga Nidra. We are all very conscious about our physical body, taking good care of it, nurturing it with the proper nutrition, exercise, sleep. The emotional and intellectual bodies need the same care and attention. We feed them with the company we keep, the books we read, what we see on TV. And we need to be just as discriminating in feeding those bodies as we are with our physical bodies. What we feed the mind, affects the health of the mind. So it is important to boost ourselves up with people who make us feel good, who bring out the best in us, not drag us down. Indulge in activities that are constructive and uplifting. Do things that make you happy, peaceful, content, in a healthy way.
Making peace with our grief encompasses all aspects of our being–good nutrition, healthy relationships, understanding ourselves, how we behave and interact with others, gaining wisdom and insights through the critical experiences we undergo. Living a life of meaning and purpose can anchor us in times of grief.
As I do not have the recording of our class Yoga Nidra, here is one that is also helpful:
May the blessings of these practices and talk bring you peace.