Loss is part of life and can take many forms. I’ve lost loved ones, jobs/careers, relationships, and I’ve even lost myself along the way.
The thing about any form of loss is it can send us into varying degrees of grief. It’s a healing journey which requires us to have faith and trust in ourselves. Furthermore, with time and acceptance, we can understand that opportunities for growth and happiness lie in the most unexpected places – even loss.
I don’t believe we ever ‘get over’ a significant loss, but we do learn how to move through it and live with it. Learning to use it for personal growth, is a choice. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that healing from loss is a process of creating balance between the extremes of being overwhelmed by emotions and avoiding feeling them because they are too painful.
One of the most useful things I’ve found in practising mindfulness, is acceptance. You see, the principles of mindfulness are centred around openness and awareness to what is.
The point is, when we practice mindfulness, we’re not trying to change anything or get anywhere. Instead, we’re simply learning to be with whatever we’re experiencing in the moment – however uncomfortable it might feel. So ultimately, we gain healing from loss by making peace with those uncomfortable emotions.
As the Tao Te Ching states in Verse 23, “If you open yourself to loss, you are at one with loss and you can accept it completely.”
Accepting loss doesn’t mean the distress completely goes away or it isn’t painful. But it does create a sense of wellbeing that makes it easier to move through it. Plus, it takes up far less energy to work with our loss than it would to fight against it. After all, the best way is usually ‘through’.
Here’s 6 ways mindfulness can help us cope with loss:
#1. Mindfulness gives the mind a rest from our head stuff. Bringing our mind out of our stories about loss and into the present moment, brings with it a welcome relief from these distressing thoughts.
#2. Mindfulness takes us out of ourselves. It’s refreshing and energising to open our awareness for even just a short while to the beauty in the world around us, instead of being preoccupied with our personal circumstances.
#3. Mindfulness wakes us from ‘zombie mode’, when loss consumes us. Through mindfulness, we can develop intentional engagement with what is happening in the present moment (even with something as simple as drinking and eating).
#4. Mindfulness frees us from our judgement about how we’re coping or not coping with loss. We become friendly and impartial observers, free to put down the heavy burden of judging.
#5. Mindfulness enables us to trust ourselves. If we’ve learned to practice mindfulness in the midst of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences, we’re much more likely to acknowledge emotions as transient and trust we will emerge from things the other side.
#6. Mindfulness helps us to centre ourselves. When the strong emotions come up and make us feel helpless, this will help us to stay grounded and bring us back to the present.
Mindfulness has developed into an important part of my life and I often introduce it to my clients. Mindfulness techniques are woven into the coaching services I offer. If you’d like to know more about how coaching can help, check it out.