Grief. It can catch us off guard, stop us in our tracks, and swallow us whole if we allow it. A deep sense of sorrow so vast that sometimes we feel it will never end.
Over these past few months I experienced a domino effect of losses: I made the hard decision to let go of my business (and my paycheck), a significant 10 year relationship with my teacher/business partner/friend, the beautiful house I was living in, a handful of relationships that were no longer serving me, my practice community, and my vision on where I thought my life was headed.
All of this gone, in the blink of an eye, at the same time.
I was devastated. Brought down to my knees in suffering and pain. There were many restless nights of sleep, followed by groundless days of searching for any anchor to tether me from blowing away in the unknown. I cried a river of tears on a daily basis. Nothing was the same. Everything had changed.
Thankfully, I learned a big lesson about grief during a weekend retreat not too long ago.
The room was being set for our holotropic breathwork session. There were 11 of us in this experience - all women. We started laying down our Thermarest air mats and covering them with blankets. I was ready in my corner of the room, and my intention for this journey was clear.
How can I feel completely secure in my own being, without relying on my job, bank account, intimate relationship, and friendships? What is it that I need to do to be absolutely secure in myself, 100%, even in the midst of great grief?
The music started and we all began to rock and breathe. Deep, tribal, drum and bass accompanied us as we dropped down into ourselves. Then came the vibrational magic of the didjeridoo and blastoff, I was on my way!
It wasn’t too long into my session that I experienced a cascade of losses going back in time.
A lifetime of loss revealed itself like cards in a deck, fanned out, one after another: the end of my business, the loss of friendships, the loss of my practice community, losing my house, running out of money, dear friends moving out of the country, the passing of my father, break-ups and broken hearts, ending a career, pets dying, more break-ups, etc… Moment after painful moment of letting go, saying goodbye and change: this is what my journey showed me.
You’d think I'd have been devastated, right? But I wasn’t. And that’s the moment that I became extremely curious about my experience. Where is my grief in the midst of all this loss?
I began the feverish hunt, searching up and down, front to back for my never-ending sorrow. “It has to be here somewhere," I thought to myself.
“How can I experience all these losses and not feel the deep despair of my grief?”
After a noble exploration of my inner landscape, I couldn’t find my grief. It was as if it had simply disappeared. I was astounded.
As I continued my breathwork session, I asked myself a very simple question.
Who am I without my grief?
What I learned from this experience was that I was adding even more suffering and pain on top of the real losses I already experienced.
A part of me was attached to my grief, wanting to hold on to it to prove my battle scars. I couldn’t find my grief during my breathwork session because I had quite naturally let go.
When I let go of my attachment to how I think things should be, when I give up my need to control, when I don’t live a life filled with expectations, and when I step into a deeper sense of trust, that's when I find true freedom.
It’s in this freedom that I find security in myself.
Interested in finding the same as you move and shake yourself and this world into a better state of being? Try this technique that works for me:
Letting Go Practice
On the harder days, I like to anchor myself through the practice of Letting Go. It’s especially helpful when I feel stuck and attached and have a hard time loosening my grip on the way I think things should be. Here's how I do it:
Identify what it is that you want to let go. Perhaps it’s a relationship that is no longer serving you, a negative thought pattern, or an attachment to the past or the future.
Feel your feelings. Feel the sadness, pain, loss, anger, guilt, whatever it is, feel all the feelings that arise when you step into letting go. Sometimes it’s helpful to write down your feelings in a journal. The important thing is that you feel through your feelings fully, don’t hold back.
Offer thanks and gratitude for all the ways this attachment has served you.
Let go. Let go of the control, let go of the fear, let go of expectations and step into a bigger sense of trust. You’ll know you’re on your way to letting go when you feel the flow of joy and possibility enter your life again. After all, life is a mystery. Enjoy it!
Share your experiences of Letting Go in the comment section below. Together we can create a space where we connect, share and crowd-source our favorite tips and tricks for letting go of grief.