Grief can make everyday feel very stressful. Research shows that spending a little time each day practicing mindfulness or meditation can alter how your brain processes this stress. It has been shown that people who meditate regularly lower their cortisol levels by up to 20%. Meditation also helps to lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, and reduce muscle tension.
Often times after experiencing trauma, it is natural for people to spontaneously reminisce about the experience. By meditating you are intentionally cultivating this, which can allow you to access feelings you may not know were there. Meditating allows you to find peace and clarity during a difficult and confusing time.
Yoga is similar to meditation, in that it allows you the time to focus on your body, mind, and breathing. It combines the practices of meditation with movement, giving you benefits of exercise and meditation combined.
Trauma often leaves people with a sense of fear in their own bodies. Yoga can help you regain a sense of control and safety. By practicing yoga, you are learning how to use breath as a form of self-regulation. Breathing is a powerful way to quiet your brain and nervous system.
Both meditation and yoga can be surprisingly emotional experiences. Try starting out slow, with 20-30 minutes of mindfulness meditation practice each day. Start by simply focusing on slow breathing while you relax. Then allow an image of a beautiful, comforting place to arise. Sit and take in this place. Notice how you feel, the shapes, colors, textures, lights and sounds. Take a moment to enjoy being here. When you come back to the moment, realize that you are here and now, whole and living.
Yoga can either be done at home on your own or at a studio with an instructor. There are many different types of practices and interpretations. It is important to be careful if practicing yoga on your own, because some of the moments and positions can be potentially harmful if done wrong. It may be a good idea to start out with an instructor who can guide your practice.
Going to a yoga studio can also get you out of the house and apart of a community. You may even meet someone else who is healing from grief as well, or those who use yoga in their spiritual path. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek help when you need it.