Grief In The Body: Taking Up Space (photos)

Grief can overwhelm us with a tsunami of sensations, emotions, and thoughts that leave us physically exhausted, feeling comatose or dead, and moving through life in a body that feels, moves, and even breathes differently than before they died.

Often we push our grief down, make it small, hidden, or act like it doesn’t exist because we sense it is unwelcome in our familial or social circles or feel an unspoken pressure to “keep it together.”

What would it feel like to you in your body to be supported in your grief, to be entitled to your feelings, to be seen and heard?

What would this look like for you in your body?

One way to practice taking up space in our grief is to practice taking up space with our bodies.

You might start in a small, curled-up position and slowly move to sitting up or standing tall. Perhaps you find somewhere between small and large, hidden and seen, closed and open that feels supportive and good to you in your body today. Don’t worry about what it looks like, tune into what it feels like.

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This practice of meeting our bodies where they are in grief and beginning from there is one beautiful way to recruit our innate, inner healing resources.

More yoga videos and practices at TheGriefPractice.com or get the book here.

Photos: Stacey Winters

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Behind The Scenes: The Grief Practice Book

I find myself in an awkward spot these days, a few months out from self-publishing my second book.

I am afraid to fail and I am afraid to succeed.

That’s how I know I’m right where I should be.

This book has had a life of its own. There have been major delays, hiccups, crash landings and revivals. It lay dormant for years until the tiniest light warmed up the idea again in my heart.

Witnessing the twists and turns of how it’s come to be what it is has reaffirmed my trust in the process of things. Not that they always work out, but that I do my small part and the rest is out of my hands.

2002: THE CRASH: One of the first things I did after my husband died was go to my local bookstore. I was looking for a book to show me the way because books had always shown me the way up until then. I came empty and left emptier.

2006: THE HEAL: I listen to my first body scan and have my first AHA moment of being present. That same year I start going to yoga every week at Birdrock Yoga. I cry at the end of every class in the final resting pose. I begin to wonder what is happening in yoga that didn’t happen in my years in talk therapy and my decade on antidepressants…

2009: THE MEND: My brother gives me a dog and I meet my now husband. Our relationship and his support allows me to explore areas of my grief I never felt safe enough to explore alone.

2010: THE STORY: I start writing publicly about my grief. I intern with a Los Angeles yoga teacher and writer and learn the ins and outs of online magazines, blogging and publishing. I start feeling the tug to write a book about grief and about how yoga helped me.

2013: THE PUZZLE: I take my yoga teacher training. Shortly after I take a trauma-informed yoga training. I begin to understand why yoga was able to help me through my grief when nothing else could. I begin my exploration into trauma and emotions in the body and how it all relates to grief. The puzzle starts to come together…

2015: THE PARTNER: I read an article by a writer and yoga teacher I admire about her experience of grief. I reach out to her to see if she’d like to collaborate on a book project. She says yes! We start planning and create the first version of the website. I realize this is not meant to be a book about my story. It is meant to be a book about OUR stories.

2016: THE PATH: I start teaching a weekly grief yoga class at a local hospice center. People are coming to class weeks out of tremendous loss. I begin to see how the body responds to movement and mindfulness at different times in grief and what is useful and not useful for humans in their suffering. I tell my story publicly for the first time when I present on The Grief Practice at Camp Widow in San Diego.

2017: THE LETDOWN: My partner advises me she cannot continue with the project. I don’t think I can finish this book alone while at the same time feeling that I have to find a way forward.

2018: THE PUSH: January: I begin to offer Grief-In-The-Body workshops as a way to condense all the information I’ve gathered over the last five years into a comprehensible, useful format for humans who are grieving.

July: I realize I need to pull other people in to help me make the book the best it can possibly be. I recruit a local artist, attorney, photographer, fellow yoga teacher, website design crew and begin to jot down my ideas on how I will share this project through a video. I reach out to a 20-year hospice nurse, neuroscientist, and 18-year yoga teacher and author to review the book. We make the video.

November: I receive the final edits for the video, ironically, the week before Thanksgiving. I launch the Indiegogo campaign.

Here we are. I am finalizing the book, receiving some last reviews, and working out details on how to get this photo-heavy book printed in the most economical way.

Creating something that matters is hard work. We often think if it doesn’t “succeed” by today’s standards that it’s not worth it.

That is a damn lie. In my book failing is not trying.

We need more people creating things that matter, that make a small shift in a big world. We need people willing to do the heart work and the hard work of showing up no matter what.

You’ll be the first to know when the book and companion website are ready!

ps. I got this little book when I knew I was on the path to shipping something that mattered. If you have an idea in your heart you want to bring to life, I highly recommend taking a look at Seth Godin’s body of work. It’s taken me from can’t-do-it to doing-it every time.