Change is inevitable, letting go and moving forward optional
Blue skies, warm sun and the rolling English countryside simply took my breath away this weekend. After days of wind and rain, it was a welcome tonic. I found myself pondering on many a subject but perhaps the most dominant was that of loss.
It’s a year since my beautiful dad died. For me, it was fitting that he let go on the Autumnal Equinox – a time of spiritual transformation and enlightenment.
However, despite my spiritual beliefs and practices there’s nothing to prepare a person for the pain. Like the rolling hills before me, its the sudden peaks and troughs of emotions that can be the hardest to deal with.
The grief grip
Grief is a personal journey and we all experience it in different ways. Initially, I was in denial and it wasn’t until some months after dad’s death that I felt its intensity. Today, the grief grip isn’t so often but when it hits I cannot predict the weight of its punch.
It comes without warning, enveloping my entire being. There is no escape. It feels as if my emotions have kidnapped me from my happy self. The panic and fear builds, pinning me down and I’m powerless. Tears rain from my eyes as I puke out painful sobs. My internal voice shouts random instructions like ‘Pull yourself together!’ ‘You should be over this by now!’ ‘Breathe!’
And then its gone.
After a marathon of emotions I’m left weak but strangely I feel cleansed. At this point my yoga practice lays out the necessary healing tools before me. I remember to breathe and guide myself gently back to the present moment. Sitting quietly I begin to embrace the stillness.
Writing the experience down, thoughts and feelings is a very good idea. Sometimes I do. But I find moving into therapeutic postures soothes my body better initially.
I might lie on my back and kick my legs up to rest them on the wall with my hands on my ribs regulating my breath. The gentle rise and fall of the abdomen begins to calm me down as I feel the warmth and comfort of the posture. After a few moments I’ll roll over and assume the Childs pose. Directing my breath into the back ribs. Heros pose is next. Sitting up on my heels and cupping my head with my hands, I use the breath to restore energy.
Time passes and I awaken from my meditation and step back into my skin. ‘Cathy…’ the internal voice whispers ‘go have a cup of tea’.
There are lessons to learn as we step into Autumn. Sitting quietly observing nature I’m fascinated as it surrenders to an uncontrollable change. Letting go is not easy, it takes courage. But if we practice every day I’m sure we wouldn’t hold on to the pain for quite so long? I’m still learning how to do it. I hold on to the wonderful loving memories of my dad and give thanks for the time we shared.
Everything has a beginning, middle and natural end. Whether positive or negative, every journey or life experience will soon come to an end. I guess it’s about trusting that the experience will transform and new beginnings are waiting to enlighten us.
My top five calming yoga tools that help me through difficult times
- Mindful breathing
Sit up straight. Relax and close your eyes. Take a long deep breath in through your nostrils and a slow releasing breath out of the nostril. Be mindful of the breath and try to match the length of the inhalation with the exhalation. Repeat 10 x
- Put your feet up
Lying on the ground, shuffle up close to the wall or the sofa. Rest your legs up against the wall or draped over the seat of a sofa. Close your eyes and rest you hands palms down over the ribcage. Practise mindful breathing. Rest here for 5 minutes
- Hero’s pose with healing hands
Knee down and rest your bottom on your heels. Use a few cushions to sit on if the knees feel tight. With a long spine close your eyes and cup your head with your hands. Breath deeply and imagine you are filling the head with a purple healing light that is soothing for the mind and body. Rest here for as long as you wish.
- Childs pose
From Heros pose fold forward and place your forehead on the floor infront of your knees. Rest the arms by your side, palms up. Direct the breath into the back ribs. For support use a bolster to lay over. Relax for 5mins
- Cup of tea pose
Take a cup from the kitchen cupboard. Choose your favourite tea and place in the cup. Pour over hot water and add milk if desired. Find a comfortable seated position, relax and take gentle sips.
Cathy Underwood is a busy mother of two and founder of the award winning Yoga4mums: an all-inclusive community minded business where, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or ability, families can come together and enjoy affordable yoga.
Cathy specialises in areas of Autism, learning disabilities and mental health conditions providing effective movement modules to enhance behaviour and self regulation. To find out more please visit Yoga4care