Using mindfulness with grief is not intended to diminish the pain associated with a loss, but to acknowledge the pain and face it head-on instead of running from it. It usually takes more energy to avoid grief than to let ourselves experience it.
Here are some mindfulness techniques for grief that you could try:
This can be done anywhere at any time and often without anyone noticing. Mindful breathing involves focusing your attention on your body as breath enters and exits. This exercise helps calm your mind and body, as well as alleviates anxiety. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest, the feeling of air in your nostrils and the warmth of your breath as it leaves your body. Your mind will occasionally wander to other things, which is normal. When your mind wanders, acknowledge it without being hard on yourself and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Walking and nature are helpful when grieving and can also increase sleep quality. It is also a physical activity, which can be beneficial for mood and mental health. This exercise is especially helpful for those whose grief has them feeling depressed or who tend to isolate themselves. Spend one to two minutes standing in a place outside before you start walking. Close your eyes and pay close attention to the sounds, smells, feeling of your feet on the ground, the wind on your face, etc. Open your eyes and take in the sights, paying attention to the colours, shapes and textures
Some people prefer a pen and paper (or computer) to practice mindfulness. Journaling allows you to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts in the moment. There are no rules – go with how you feel and add in illustrations, poetry, and even collages and photos if it helps you tell your story and explore your true feelings.
Mindfulness classes / workshops / apps
Some people prefer a social setting to practice mindfulness such as classes or workshops. The benefit of a workshop is that the teacher can customise the practice with you. If you don’t want to attend a mindfulness group or feel it isn’t for you. You can download an app to your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Phone app stores offer a variety of mindfulness apps that simulate the experience of guided meditation. App recommendations include:
• Balance: Meditation & Sleep
• Stop, Breathe, Think: Meditation
• The Mindfulness App
Mindfully accept your feelings
Allow yourself to feel what you feel at any given moment, with a sense of self-compassion, and without judgment. Take time to acknowledge your feelings and express them in a way that is helpful to you. During this time, it can also be helpful to reach out and talk about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor – you could also contact a support organisation. Find a balance between sitting with yourself, and being with others, but don’t isolate yourself.