Meditation

January 18, 2011

So in an effort to not talk about the pain all the time, I think I will throw in posts about things that have been helpful to me.  Maybe they will be helpful to others.  .

I have never really meditated before.  Anyone who knew me before Chris died would probably think it was the last thing I would do.  I was more of a watching basketball, swilling beer kind of girl.  But of course everything has changed and I am in a lot of pain.  For those of you who have experienced a life changing loss, you know how the pain (and anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, etc) can be overwhelming and I really felt like I needed to find a way to make the pain more manageable.

I have gone to two one hour meditation classes at a nearby yoga studio.  They were good.  It is, if nothing else, helpful to have an hour to not have to worry about anything, and be quiet.  At one of these classes, they advertised a meditation and mindfulness workshop for this past Sunday.  I have been reading a book about mindfulness (Grieving Mindfully http://www.amazon.com/Grieving-Mindfully-Compassionate-Spiritual-Coping/dp/1572244011/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295370175&sr=8-1) and it is a concept that my grief counselor and I had discussed early on and it really helped me get through those first months when it was a struggle every minute of everyday.  Here is a link about mindfulness if you want to learn more http://www.mindfulness.com/ 

 So I decided to go.  I didn’t have anything else to do, so why not? It was four hours of learning how to meditate in different ways: standing, sitting, laying down, walking.  The instructor helped us with posture and helped answer questions.  I generally found it very helpful as an introduction to meditation. 

At first I was feeling pretty good.  I knew that all I had to do was relax and breath for the next four hours.  We went through several different meditations and I felt like I was getting the hang of it.  I could focus on sounds and sensations and let the rest of the world and my problems take a backseat to just “existing”.  As I went along thoughts creeped in.  Tears fell on and off.  My thoughts right now are generally painful.  Actually I should say unpleasant.  You are supposed to look at your thoughts and feelings that come up as you meditate, experience them and term them pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.  So I will say my thoughts are generally unpleasant.  So I cried, but it was dark, so it was ok. 

As we neared the end of the seminar I began to get anxious again, know that my time was over and I would have to go back to the noise outside.  I wanted to stay there where it was peaceful and manageable. So it started to affect my concentration.

When we worked on one last type of meditation, it was hard to give it the same energy.  The meditation we worked on is called metta (loving-kindness http://info.med.yale.edu/psych/3s/metta.html) meditation.  It is about “opening and softening the heart”.  A part of me feels very angry, bitter, and robbed by Chris’s death and resents everyone else whose lives haven’t fallen apart.  It is there, I don’t like it, but it is there and it is ugly.   This type of meditation is supposed to help address these kinds of emotions, to stop the negative thought process that fuels them.  While I was there I resisted it, I could feel my mind resisting the effects of the words you say to yourself.  It just made me frustrated.

However, I used it today and it worked.  I found out my dear friend got engaged.  While part of me was genuinely happy for her (I want her to be engaged and happy, I just want to be married and happy too), a larger part of me was in pain and bitter and envious.  I felt awful all morning, these two parts fighting with each other.  Then I tried a small metta exercise where I repeated “I am full of love and kindness” over and over again until I could actually feel the bitterness melt away and could feel the love wash over me.  The pain is still there, but it no longer holds me back from celebrating my friend.

I don’t want to be a bitter and angry person, incapable of thinking of others over myself.  I want to be truly filled with love and kindness (I know cheesy, but sincere).  I definitely think metta meditation is a practice I will incorporate into my daily life as a way to help me be the person I want to be and not let the pain dictate who I am. 

So, for those of you who are looking for something to help, I think meditation is a good idea.  There are all different types, try them all and see if they help.  I think it takes some getting use to, but I think it is worth the investment. 

Anyone else out there find meditation useful?

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4 Responses to “Meditation”

  1. megan Says:

    meditation was a huge part of our life “before.” It has been very difficult to get back into it – along the lines of “it won’t change anything, all this sitting and breathing.” Resentment against meditation. But the truth is, breathing DOES help. At the very least, it calms the autonomous nervous system so that your physical body is better able to handle the trauma, grief, and stress. I also had a hard time with compassion and tenderness to self, as feeling that kind of love just hurt – but that is coming easier (a little easier) these days.

  2. Mandy Says:

    Thanks for posting this, M. I was just trying to gear up for a post about how distracted I have been since Hudson died, much moreso than I used to be, and how often I prefer it that way. I’ve become someone who leaves the TV on in the background even though I am doing other things and I can barely stay focused on one thing long enough to finish it. And when I have short bursts of focused energy and am able to complete things, I also feel a lot better. I haven’t meditated before, but I have found that quiet time at yoga really helps, even though I, too, cry a fair bit. But now that I have read this, maybe I should consider regular meditation as well. It’s certainly the case that I could use a lot more mind-quiet. And, I, too, could benefit from some meditations that help me not let “the pain dictate who I am.” Thanks so much for sharing this. Thinking of you often.

  3. Ashley Says:

    I stumbled onto your blog. I am so sorry for your loss and pain. I can’t imagine the difficuly of your situation. You were a beautiful couple and you can see so much love in your photos.

  4. widowedowl Says:

    megan: I am sure it is hard to go back to meditation. There are many things I am not sure I will be able to get into without Chris.

    Mandy: Anything that helps right?

    Ashely: Thanks for the note. It makes me feel better to think in some way our love is captured,even if in pictures.


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