Posted by: manjitsandhu | May 11, 2010

Coping With Grief – An Alternative Perspective

In generations past, many cultures viewed the grieving process as something to be endured in private. In fact, the strength of the bereaved was often measured by how well grieving people hid their sadness and sense of loss. Recent years have seen a shift in perspective, however. Today, grieving people in our society are often encouraged to “let it all out” by displaying their sadness and being free to shed tears when they feel the need. The reason behind this shift is that psychologists, psychiatrists, and clergy have come to the conclusion that bottling up and repressing emotions is not an effective way to deal with them. In fact, doing so can lead to serious difficulties which often do not manifest themselves fully for years.

As a more holistic approach to healing becomes widely accepted, meditation is gaining adherents as another way of helping a person journey through the various stages of grief. Although meditation has various forms and specific methods of practice, it can be defined in general as a discipline in which a person works to get beyond the thinking mind for purposes of relaxation, self-awareness, or a search for the divine. For one who is mourning the loss of a loved one, this practice can provide a sense of balance and inner peace that mere emotional release may not furnish. This tranquility comes, at least in part, from a very quantifiable process that occurs in the physiology of one who meditates. When full relaxation is reached, a person’s brain waves can be categorized almost exclusively in the alpha state, triggering the release of chemicals called endorphins. These not only lead to a feeling of well-being, but also contribute to boosting the ability of the immune system to fight off illness.

Many practitioners of meditation will stress that this discipline involves striving for inner balance and peace in the midst of a chaotic, frenetic, and sometimes anguish-provoking world. Therefore, direct expression of grief through behaviors such as crying would most likely not be discouraged. At the same time, the tempest of emotional release can be assuaged in a positive and healing way through the intentional calming and mental awareness that comes about through meditation. When combined, these ways of handling the loss of a loved one may well bring about the equilibrium the grieving person so desperately seeks.

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Manjit Sandhu


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