Using Mindfulness to Help Heal Grief
By Jessica Nodulman, PhD. Assistant Professor at Augustana College and Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Instructor
What Is Mindfulness?
Have you been hearing a lot about mindfulness lately? Maybe from magazines at the grocery store check-out lane, from segments on talk shows, or from apps you can download on your phone?
It seems to be the new rage. But is it just a trend like eating seaweed? Or is there something more to it that could help us through times of crisis?
While mindfulness may be trending right now, it is much more than a fad. Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years and originates from Eastern religious philosophies. You will find similar practices in cultures and religions worldwide. Current-day practices of mindfulness are considered personal practices and can be done by anyone, whatever your background or beliefs.
The definition of mindfulness is pretty simple. It means that you bring your attention to the present moment. Mindfulness is a form of meditation—settling our nervous system and training the brain to be more focused and less reactive.
Healthy and Happy
Jessica Nodulman, PhD
While mindfulness and meditation sound pretty simple in theory, in practice they can be much harder to actually do. And are we surprised? Family, work, and social demands overbook us and stretch us thin.
When we experience the loss of a loved one, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time when we can be fully present in the moment. We are often consumed by experiences connected to our grief--like a flood of overwhelming feelings. In addition, the technologies of the 21st century that on one hand make life “smarter”, also leave us feeling overwhelmed with notifications to view and responses to give.
I began to practice mindfulness and meditation years back to help decrease my own daily stress level. I had heard about the scientifically supported benefits--such as better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health--and wanted to try it out to see for myself. Just like the research had shown, once I was meditating, I too started experiencing better health and wellness. I felt the healthiest and happiest I had in years!
As we all know, life is unpredictable. I was blindsided one day by the sudden death of a loved one. The shock and grief were overwhelming. I received support from family, friends and a grief counselor. However, what I also found to be crucial in my journey with grief was going back to my mindfulness and meditation practices.
When I grieved mindfully, I learned how to be aware of my pain, thoughts and feelings, yet not to drown in them. Mindfulness and meditation helped me transform my grief because it taught me how to value my relationships and not take life for granted.
Because mindfulness and meditation practices have been so personally beneficial, I became a Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Instructor in order to help others learn how to incorporate these techniques into their own lives. I will be leading three sessions exploring the benefits and practices of mindfulness and meditation during a time of grief.
Mindfulness might appear to be the hot new buzzword, yet research and the experience of people across the globe verify its utility for our health and wellness. The classes offered through Genesis Grief Support are free and everyone is welcome to attend any or all of the uniquely different sessions.
Whether you never thought of yourself as someone who would meditate or you have been intrigued by mindfulness for a while, I encourage you to come to a session and learn how these practices may help you create peace during this time in your life.
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You can attend one of my sessions completely free-of-charge. Take the first step towards mindfulness and RSVP today.