Guided centering practice for grieving
Yesterday was our three year anniversary of getting sick with COVID which was the beginning of us falling ill with Long COVID. I will write more about what this marker means for me another time but for today, March 15th, which happens to be Long COVID Awareness Day I wanted to share a guided centering practice for grief. It’s for anyone grieving and for bodies of varying physical and cognitive abilities. The typed transcript can be found below as well.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Coaching
I also wanted to share that I am going to start offering mental health and wellbeing coaching. I will be more formally announcing it once the website is finished.
Guided centering practice for grief transcript
This is a centering practice for when we’re grieving. It’s going to go slow and I want to start by sharing what I see outside my window right now.
I see trees covered in snow, fresh snow that’s been falling all day.
Right now they are tiny flakes that are coming down quickly with just a slight angle to it. It’s toward the end of the day so it’s getting darker outside.
I can hear the sounds of my home, the heater going, my kids talking to each other, my husband cooking dinner. I can feel the softness of the cushion underneath me.
I want to invite you to take time to ground yourself and center yourself in the time and the place that you are listening to this.
What sounds do you hear?
What is the light like?
Is your body comfortable or uncomfortable as it presses against whatever is holding you up right now whether it’s the ground or a chair or a bed?
If you’re able to look out a window or you’re outside, notice what the weather is like?
What do you see in the space around you?
When we’re grieving there are different depths to grief. There is grief so deep that time and place seem to vanish and all we can feel is the pain and it can feel like we are at the very bottom of the ocean and we never know how we will surface again. And if it’s too much to ground yourself in time and place then just ground yourself in what you feel against your body right now.
We’re going to ground ourselves and center ourselves in what people talk about as the four dimensions.
The first is our length. Our length is our dignity. And as we center in our dignity, in our length, we begin by rooting down to the furthest and lowest sensation that we can experience. If that’s our waist, our tailbone, our legs, upper legs, lower legs or our feet we ground ourselves in the lowest sensation that we can experience.
What do we feel in that area? Do we feel a pressure pushing against it in any way? Do we feel supported? What is the temperature of that area? Is there pain? Is there tension or is it relaxed? Do we have an emotional response or thoughts that arise? Notice it all.
Then in our minds' eyes we stretch even beyond what we can physically feel. And that we know and remind ourselves that even in our despair and our grief and our awareness of all that we have lost, that we have dignity and we have worth and we are practicing inhabiting that.
Then in our length we reach up and if we’re laying down we’re stretching and if we’re sitting we just expand up as much as we can, as much as our body will physically allow, if we’re curled in the fetal position we just have awareness of the top of our head. If we have sensation in our head what do we feel? What is the temperature like? Is one side of our head cooler or warmer than the other? Is there anything touching it? Does our head feel supported by our neck or the back of a chair or a pillow? Is there pressure or pain? Do any emotions or thoughts arise as we bring our awareness to the uppermost part of our body?
Then in our minds’ eye we reach even beyond what we can physically feel. While we may not feel the fullness of our dignity it is always there and we are always deserving of it. And if your mind is tired or your mind cannot process all of these words you can just be here and know that that length is always there, that dignity is always there and you are always deserving of it.
The next dimension that we center in is our width and our width is our connection, our connection to ourselves, our connection to others, our sense of belonging. When we are grieving, especially in this culture that does not know how to hold pain, it can feel like we belong nowhere in our grief. And we can feel alone and angry and abandoned. And not just feel it but maybe we are abandoned by others. But we can still connect to ourselves. If we are physically and emotionally able we can stretch out our arms and open our chest and in doing so we open our hearts, first to ourselves and then to others as they are deserving.
We are pushed to let others into our lives but other people also need to earn the right to be part of our lives. And there are times that what we are grieving is the pain that other people have caused us or on top of our original grief and loss is the pain of how badly people are handling that. And in these times there may not be many other people that we connect with but we connect with ourselves, we can connect with nature, we can connect with our imagination, we can connect with memories.
The next area we are going to center in, the next dimension is the depth and the depth is our history from the back of us, our story where we’ve come from, that’s our wisdom and perhaps that is some of what we’re grieving. Maybe it’s our present that we’re grieving, that middle space of our body and maybe it’s our future that we thought we were going to have but we’re not, the front of our body, that we’re grieving. And we hold all of it. It is our story.
And if we cannot hold all of this ourselves we can call on the wisdom and the strength of those that have walked a similar path and have found a way and we will let them guide us and we will let them be a light of hope for us that we too can find a way forward.
And the last dimension is our purpose and when we are deep in grief that can be lost along with so many other things, knowing our purpose, feeling connected to our purpose, feeling like anything matters. And perhaps our purpose comes down to making it through another second, making it through another minute. Maybe our purpose is grieving and feeling everything we need to feel. Perhaps it’s being true to our experience. Perhaps it’s being committed to taking whatever the next step is in front of us. There are times where my purpose has come down to getting to look in the eyes of my children one more time, the eyes of my husband one more time. And it’s been recommitting to that over and over and over again.
And as we bring this centering practice to an end I want to invite you to feel where that grief lands in your body the most. Think of what it is that you are grieving and know and be validated and hear that you have every right to grieve what you have lost. It is just as bad and just as painful and hard as you think it is. And think if there is any comfort that you can invite into this space to wrap around you and wrap around your grief, whether it’s physically real or real in your mind, it can be a protective animal, it can be a big down comforter that you wrap around yourself, it can be an image, a remembered smell or a smell created by a candle or piece of clothing, any tiny thing that can add a layer of comfort to your pain, to hold you in your pain even just a little bit.
And then when you’re ready if your eyes were closed you can open them and you can take in the sights. And if you’re able and it’s not too intense you can take a breath in, you can ground yourself in time and place, finding something that will give you not even pleasure but neutrality can be enough. A plant that you can just stare at. Noticing the temperature of the room. Noticing again the feel of anything that is touching your skin whether it’s your chair, the ground or your clothing. And if it feels ok, as you come back into this space or continue to ground into this space you can rock back and forth, you can gently glide your hands over your face or down your arms and legs and you can remember your length, and your depth and your width and your purpose. Take care and know that you are not alone.