Anyone who has sat through a short meditation on metta (loving kindness) would have experienced a noticeable elevation of the mood, almost immediately after the practice. This benefit is not based on one’s religious background or years of practice, but the simple fact that a gently directed mind coupled with the use of our breath can have a profound impact on how we feel; and by extension how we impact the world around us. Below, I introduce the steps to a simple meditative practice that might be particularly useful for those dealing with a grieving heart at this moment.
Start with a glass of water to drink. Rinse your face with cold water, dry off and find a space in the house – perhaps a room – in which you won’t be disturbed by family and friends for a few minutes. Get to a comfortable pose; seated or lying down. Make sure you have back support. Repeat each step for five to ten breaths. Give yourself space and permission to experiment and if necessary, fall short of perfection. Most importantly give yourself mindfulness.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Repeat one more time.
Try to listen to what’s going on inside. Be gentle with whatever comes up. This is a moment to hold our own hearts with a lot of love and compassion. Stay here for five to ten breaths – breathing in deep and exhaling long.
Allow all the emotions that come up to flow freely for a few breaths. Allow the memories to surface for a bit. As the feelings become stronger, you feel the build-up within, allow yourself to experience the full force of that emotion. This may be in the form of tears, screams, sobs, tightening chest, and more. When possible, tune your attention within – towards your heart centre – while your body experiences this wave of emotion. Stay here for no more than ten breaths.
Start breathing into your heart centre while your body rides this wave. Gently place your palms on your heart and whisper “I bless you with love, and I release you”. Repeat as many times as you need to while taking deep breaths through an open mouth. Even if this is through the sobs. With each breath, allow your lungs to fill up as much as you can, while you remain kind to yourself during this very human experience. Continue to breathe into and from your heart for five breaths. “I bless you with love, and I release you”.
Next, we move on to vocalising the sound “Z” while focusing on the lungs – the storage hub of our body for most emotions related to sadness. When we practice this sound, we do so with a gentle intention to release these emotions. Perhaps allowing them to be replaced by courage, strength, and gratitude. After a deep inhale, set your teeth slightly apart to chant the sound “Zzz…” that lasts throughout the exhale. You might feel the vibration along your windpipe and sound like a Bee. Bring your focus to the lungs at the inhale, filling you belly completely. At the exhale repeat “Zzz…” while having the intention to release and let go of what doesn’t serve your heart. Repeat for five breaths.
Allow your breath to return to normal. With your eyes closed, recall a beautiful sunset you’ve seen – in real life or in an image. Take a moment to remember the sunset as detailed as possible; all the hues, the shapes of the clouds, the changing sun. Perhaps the sound of birds returning to their nests. Or the feel of the breeze on your face. With the next inhale allow the warmth and colour of that sky to gently spread within your body. If creating this feeling seems challenging at this point, visualise your body being filled with the pink hues of the sky – as if a warm blanket is gently covering your body – from feet to neck. Use your lips to softly whisper the sentence “it is ok for me to rest” as you settle into this blanket. Stay with the sunset for five more breaths.
Close the practice with Gratitude
When you feel ready, allow a tiny spark of gratitude to light your heart. Gratitude for allowing yourself these few moments of self-care. Gratitude for this human journey and its experiences – both uplifting and challenging. As we conclude, you are invited to send gratitude to the blessings of a Divine Being you believe in, an Enlightened Master you follow, or simply to the availability of your own breath. We are all on this human journey together. Reach out for support when you need to. Use all the tools and resources available to you during these challenging times.