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Season 2 - Episode 8

Grieving Heart

35 min - Practice
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To heal, we must feel. Cheri, with the help of Mia, guides us in a tender practice designed to nurture and nourish our heart through the grieving process. She invites us to lovingly take the time to be there for ourselves during loss and emotional pain—of a person, animal, aging body, a lost dream, or anything else that may arise.
What You'll Need: Mat, Eye PIllow, Square Bolster, Blanket (3)

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(ocean waves) Namaste. I'm glad you've joined us here to nurture your heart through the grief process. When we lose something that's dear and precious to our hearts, we naturally grieve. It's a beautiful way that the body knows how to release the pain of that loss. And to have practices that support us in opening our hearts and supporting our hearts and taking time to be there for ourselves through this experience of pain and grief, we can fare better through our losses, which is part of life.

Not only are we going to lose people and animals that we love, but our dreams sometimes die or things that are important to us disappear. So there's many kinds of ways, many ways that we experience loss and grief. So, as you practice this practice for grief and supporting your heart, I invite you to let yourself feel whatever arises. So, if emotional pain comes up, if you need to cry or you need to scream into a pillow, you need to let that energy move, please give yourself absolute freedom to do so. It will help free the energy, it will help you heal.

Often, to heal, we must feel. So, I encourage you to allow yourself to feel and experience all that arises for you in the session today. So, using your various props, you'll need a bolster, and you want to gather these things, three blankets or more. It can be nice to have an extra bed pillow if you have it, an eye pillow to go over your eyes or you can place it in different parts of your body if you like. And then aromatherapy can be really nice, too.

As we smell that, it tends to bring a positive experience and there's many that are good for relaxation and soothing ourselves. The first pose is mountain brook. And, I'd like to show, actually, where the blanket goes in this. So, because it is quite common that people tend to put it up too high, and if it's too high, you don't get the heart opening that is most beneficial. So, the blanket goes beneath the bottom edge of the scapula.

So, you can even take a moment to palpate your own scapula by bringing your thumbs behind you and feel where that edge of that is, and that's where the bottom edge of the blanket goes as you recline back. Not under the shoulder blades, but beneath the shoulder blades. And for women, it can often be where the bra strap line runs, so that can be helpful, too. You'll take one blanket for your head and you'll put that in position. That will be rolled once you come into the pose.

And you'll take one blanket, and we're gonna do a little gentler version of mountain brook with the blanket folded in half rather than a high fold, but it can absolutely be folded higher into thirds if you'd like that. And, as you fold it, make sure it's pretty smooth. And you'll place that about so, kind of eyeing where it will be. And then you'll take your bolster and under the knees, and one blanket rolled on top of your bolster. Good.

And as you come back, you're gonna slowly recline back using your stomach muscles, good. And you can pull the blanket roll under your neck so it feels just high enough so it supports the curve of your neck, and your arms are gonna go out to your sides in the space between the blanket that's under your heart and the blanket that's under your head. And you can take your eye pillow and place it over your eyes. And just making sure that everything feels just right. So, taking a moment to reposition if you need to.

If you're not sure if it's in the right place, you can bring your hands right to the center of your chest, slide your hands out, and that's where the top edge of the blanket will be. So, you can always scoot back a little bit or forward if you need to to readjust. So, this is a pose that takes us into our heart into Anahata chakra. So the heart is the area that is most affected and impacted by loss. And, sometimes when you're going through a grieving process, it's hard to access the grief, and other times the grief is just so strong there's no way not to feel it, it just moves through you like a train, like a strong energy.

So, if this feels too strong for you, you can always pull it out and just lie with your back flat, but if you want to open the heart a little bit more for the healing that it needs, this can be a good place to rest. So, I'd like you to start by just inviting your breath into your heart, into your belly. Just feel the calm sensation of the breath flowing in and flowing out. And begin to meet your heart. And noticing how your heart is feeling in this moment.

Allowing yourself to feel any sadness, any emotional pain that's residing in your heart, and if that energy starts to well up or starts to move, rather than holding the breath, let the breath deepen and feel free to even, haaa, make sound or open the mouth to really let this energy to flow, allowing it to flow through you and out. So, it can be nice to do some sound here, and we'll just do this together, just exploring feeling into the heart, feeling any sadness, any emotional pain that you're feeling, inhaling into it, exhaling releasing it, haaaa, and letting the breath flow into the heart, aaah haaaa. Breathing out pain, breathing out sadness. Haaaa aaah. And allowing that to continue if that feels good, or you can just let your whole body rest in this open-hearted position.

Feeling light flowing into the heart. Feeling the earth supporting you. Noticing the parts of your body that are feeling tight or tense and begin to invite these areas to soften and to relax. Relaxing the muscles, even the bones sinking down as you let go a bit deeper into mountain brook. Mountain brook is a beautiful pose to do at this time in that it's about water and being fluid and flowing, not holding on, letting go, but trusting that you're carried by the current, current of life.

Bringing that essence of compassion and gentleness into your own heart now. Perhaps an image arises that feels healing to your heart. Allow it to be a balm, a healing for your heart as it flows in. And allowing for all that you feel to be fully experienced. Noticing how your heart feels now.

Staying connected with your heart as you take a few deep breaths. And the gentlest way to release from this pose would be to just bring your legs up and roll on to your side, or you can bring your feet to the top of the bolster and blanket combination, lift up a little bit, and pull the blanket out from underneath you and then roll back down. So, however you decide to come out of it, if you roll onto your side, just remove this blanket that was under your back before you return back onto your back. So now you're lying flat, there's nothing underneath your back. And we're gonna take the knees with the hands.

We're gonna do some circles that massage around the sacrum. And the sacrum is the sacred bone of the body. It's at the base of the spine and it houses a lot of nerves, so this can be calming for the nervous system. So, the gentlest variation is to draw a circle with your legs. (laughs) That's it, big circle holding your knees.

And the more active variation is to take your arms out to your sides and draw a circle with the legs squeezing together, pulling the stomach muscles in, creating a circular massage around the sacrum. Noticing how that feels. This moves some energy, which also helps to nourish the heart. Coming back through center, and you'll go the other direction. Nice and slow, circling the knees, squeezing the knees together.

As the circle, the knees come up, you'll pull them high towards the chest to really activate the stomach muscles. Remember, if this is too much, just keep your hands on your knees for a gentle variation. Good, one more big circle, and then you'll bring your knees back into your chest. You'll hold the tops of the knees and draw the knees towards the chest, or if it's more comfortable to hold beneath the backs of the legs, you can do that. And taking a moment here to just release your low back, and then we're gonna do another movement that helps to massage the sacrum, and it's a very slow movement.

To do so, you'll take your fingers and point them down towards your toes and you'll, on your inhalation, push your knees away from the chest, straightening your arms. And as you exhale, you'll draw your knees towards your chest. Exhale. Inhale as the knees push away from the chest. Exhale, slowly massaging, a nice cradle rock across the sacrum.

The low back can be a place where we hold emotion. It can be activated when we're going through difficult times, so I wanted to also give you some self-care techniques to release your low back and to massage, to calm the nervous system through this gentle sacrum massage. Staying connected to your body, your breath. The breath can often help us to access emotions, so, if you find that you're holding your breath, try to reconnect with that nice, deep breath. Good, last time.

Go ahead, and then you'll release your feet back to the bolster/blanket combination and you'll walk your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. In this season, I've been adding a lot of bilateral stimulation poses because it's really helpful when we've been traumatized and we've been going through some really difficult time. So, this windshield wiper pose is another pose that activates the right and left hemisphere of the brain through the stimulation of the body. The arms can go out to the sides, making a nice T with the hands. The feet are kind of wide apart and you'll notice, different than with the feet on the floor, it's a little deeper stretch with the legs higher on the bolster, feet higher.

You can inhale with the knees facing center, exhale, relax the knees to the right, turn your head gently to the left. And I've also used this for neck pain, people are having neck pain. With the roll, it sort of hooks into the base of the skull, inhaling to center, and then as you twist and you turn your head, it creates a nice little stretch and space. And flowing with your breath, so you'll inhale to center, exhale release, turning your head opposite to the movement of the knees, inhaling to center, exhale to the other side. And the feet are just resting and you're feeling, as you move slowly with your breath, here the slower, the more mindful, the more focus it takes.

Feel it massaging across the soles of your feet, across your hips and low back, and even across the neck and the base of the skull. In those moments where you're hooked in to a painful thought, you can come into this movement and it will help you. I've been recently grieving myself and I would come into this sequence to help me work with the difficult pain of the loss. It's quite a powerful series of poses to really support you and help you in times of grief. And the next time the knees relax to the right, you can just let them soften down and just take a moment to stretch your arms overhead and clasp your left wrist and just give a little pull on your left wrist.

You'll keep your left shoulder anchored down into the earth. One of the common Chinese medicine diagnoses is a liver qi stagnation. So this little bit of lateral bending is great for helping to keep the emotional energy flowing. One of the things that heals liver qi stagnation is free-flowing emotion, so this is a really nice stretch on opening the sides of the body. Take just another deep breath here.

You'll slide your arms back out to the sides as you come to center, and then you'll change sides, relaxing the knees to the left, sweeping the arms up, clasping the right wrist as you stretch over towards the opposite side of your mat while keeping the back of the left shoulder grounded. If your arms are on top of your blanket roll, you may not be able to ground that shoulder all the way down, but just feel as if it's softening towards the earth so you get a good stretch through those meridian lines. Let's do a couple more breaths here. And then you'll take a deep inhalation and as you exhale, you'll slowly come back, you'll sweep the arms out and you can take your knees towards your chest one final time, just a balancing stretch, knees pulling high into the chest, and then, when you're ready, you can extend your legs up and over the bolster and blanket combination for your shavasana. So I'll give you a drop of essential oil, or, (laughs) can't do that at home, I wish I could, but take a drop for yourself and, as you take a little oil in your hand, you can rub your hands together, you can place your additional blanket over you to keep you feeling really tucked in and warm and comforted.

And let yourself rest here, just resting deeply, there's the essence of support from the earth. Feel calming in your nervous system. Feel a quietude in your heart. Feel as if the earth is drawing you in to her embrace, holding you. Feel the sweetness of the earth's energy flowing up into the back of your body.

Feel the positive energy filling your whole body as you rest in the embrace of the earth. Feeling the gentle flow of warmth, of energy in your heart. Feel the sensation of your body touching the earth. And as you allow your breath to deepen, feel the subtle sensation of the breath as it flows in and flows out. Returning momentarily from your deep relaxation, but staying relaxed, staying with your inward focus as you take a few moments to move a little bit, stretch a little bit.

And you can draw your knees towards your chest and then just take it nice and easy as you move onto your side. You can fold your blanket under you head a little higher if you like and take a few moments here, again, a great self-soothing position is one hand on your forehead, one hand on your belly or your heart. We often finish with our deep relaxation and then seated meditation, but, when you're grieving, it can be really nice to finish with a pose that's a remedy for the heart when it's hurting and that is supported child's pose. So we're going to have that as the last pose before our seated meditation, so when you're ready, you can take a breath or two and transition on up. And we're gonna add a little more height under the chest for this because it's so, so nice to feel your heart really being held in this position.

So we're gonna take two blankets, take this one, too, and we'll stack one on top of the other and then you can, if you have a pillow, you could put a pillow on top of your bolster. That also feels really nice. And then you'll bring your knees to either side of the bolster, with the knees coming up just to the outer corner and your feet coming just off the edge of the blanket. And then you'll take your blanket and you'll bring it back over you so you feel really (laughs) really tucked in. Tuck yourself in.

And then bring this as close towards you as you need to so that it supports your chest and your head but keeping your knees still on the blanket so you feel some softness under your knees here. And, noticing as you feel your heart being held here, that same mother energy, earth energy, flowing up into your heart center, holding your heart. Let the heart release any sadness, any grief into the earth and feel the earth transforming that energy. Feel the resilience of your own heart. The greater the love, the stronger the pain.

You're honoring the depth of what you're feeling by nurturing yourself. And remembering in this moment a beautiful moment, perhaps, that you shared with whatever it is that you're grieving. And just allow that to arise into your inner vision. And allow your heart to be filled with the love that you hold that will never die. Feel how this love will also help you heal.

And gently, turning your head to the other side, and resting for a few more moments, letting go into the support of the earth and into this healing energy as it fills your heart. And you are more than welcome to stay here longer, as long as you need, or to come up and join us if you like. And you'll take a few breaths and you'll take your time as you make your way back up and as you come up, and you may feel like keeping that blanket around you if you like. And then you can come to seated. So I bring blessings and send your heart my greatest wishes for your deepest healing.

Namaste.

Comments

Thanks, Cheri and Mia, for this nice and profound practice! Namaste! 💝

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