Loneliness as a doorway to connection – guided meditation

March 15, 2013

Loneliness can be a doorway to connection. Contained within the feelings of loneliness is our capacity for connection. Our podcast meditation – Guided Meditation for Loneliness – encourages you to go deep into the feelings of loneliness to connect with yourself and ultimately with others.

So often we resist emotions that we feel are threatening or unpleasant. Most of us don’t want to feel pain, but resisting our feelings alienates us from ourselves. This is especially true with loneliness. When we are lonely, we may feel deeply sad or have a strong sense of yearning. We might feel anxious, especially if we feel that there is something wrong with us for feeling they way we do. And yet going into the very heart of loneliness, experiencing it all the way, allows us to feel the most important connection of all — the connection to ourselves.

Remember — loneliness is a normal human feeling. It’s a result of your natural capacity and desire for connection. I would love to hear about your experiences with this meditation.

Grief and an open heart

May 9, 2010

Some of us react to loss by “shutting down”. We don’t feel we can bear the pain of grief, or we don’t want to risk loving and losing someone again. Rachel, whose comment is quoted below, feels her heart has been “shut for business” since she broke up with her ex four years ago. When she experienced an emotional release in the Opening the Heart meditation, however, she felt hope that she’ll eventually be able to move on and find someone new.

“I felt a significant release with tears when trying this meditation. I split with an ex over four years ago… I haven’t been able to move on at all romantically as I haven’t been able to let go of this past relationship. My heart shut for business to anyone else. I’m really hoping this meditation will eventually help me move on and find love again.”

Rachel has every reason to be hopeful now that she’s been able to start grieving the loss of her ex. If we can grieve a loss fully, feeling the pain all the way through, it leaves us with an open heart that can make new connections. It’s said that the only way through grief is straight into the heart of it. You have to fall into it completely. An open heart is one that can grieve. We can’t really feel love and joy if our hearts are closed to feeling pain. Grief is a natural process that allows us to let go of one relationship and let in another.

Life is full of losses, large and small. Large losses, like losing a  loved one, a job, moving, or falling ill, cause us to grieve. But so do smaller losses, losses that we might not even recognize as something to grieve. This really struck me yesterday as I was inhaling the wonderful fragrance of the jasmine flowers gracing my patio. Spring is my favorite season, and the return of the jasmine nourishes my being and brings me joy. But yesterday I noticed that almost all of the buds had already bloomed, and most of the lovely little flowers were on the decline. Lots of spent blossoms were at my feet. I felt as if I wanted to hold on to the jasmine forever, to never let it go. At some point I noticed a tight feeling in my heart. I felt that holding on feeling so clearly and sensed it as a tightening up against life. I felt I needed to let go and when I did, I felt grief. It was a surrender to the inevitability of loss that is part of the fabric of life. In that surrender I felt my heart relax and open. Though I felt sad, in that moment I felt fully alive. I was open to whatever might come next.

My sense is that we can’t let go and be truly open without feeling the pain of loss. What has your experience with this been?

Grief Guided Meditation Podcast

December 18, 2008

We’ve had more requests for a guided meditation for grief than anything else. It’s taken me some time to come up with something, even though I’ve been a grief counselor and experienced a lot of grief in my life. This latest podcast episode, Guided Meditation for Grief, is what came up as I reflected on my own experiences with loss.

Often the people asking for a grief meditation have lost a loved one through death, but grief is a reaction to many types of losses, large and small. Moving, losing a job or home, divorce, a change in roles — all sorts of changes can cause us to feel grief. Sometimes we even grieve lost opportunities or what “might have been”.

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful things we can ever experience. Not only is it painful, it can shake our whole world. The lyrics to Paul Simon’s Graceland say it so well:

“losing love is like a window into my heart; Everybody sees you’re blow apart…”

It can feel like your life is blown apart and your heart is going to break. Grief can bring up all sorts of emotions, not just profound sadness but anger, guilt and more. Depending on how the loss happened, it can make you question all sorts of things. You can feel confused. It can be hard to concentrate. As much as we would rather not have to experience all these things, however, the only way through grief is to experience these things all the way.

Sometimes people feel alone in their grief making it even more difficult. Some cultures and traditions support the process of mourning better than others. Often here in the US, people are expected to “move on” way before they’re ready. People are unsure of what to do and say around a grieving person and may even withdraw. And yet although no one can grieve for us, it can really help to feel others supporting us as we grieve. When my mother died, I went to a hospice support group and it made a world of difference for me.

This podcast episode is designed to help you feel supported in your loss. We hope it helps!

(You can read about grief on our companion website, Heart of Healing.)

Emotional pain in chakra meditation

June 16, 2008

I am responding to a question from a listener who experienced emotional pain while using the Chakra Meditation.  Here is his email:

I was today listening to the Chakra meditation podcast, but felt it was necesarry to turn it off at the Heart Chakra. I found that I became overwhelmed by a feeling of great emotional pain in my heart… I thought I would e-mail you to see if you knew what might be causing this, and how to find the solution.

It’s not unusual to become more aware of our emotions during meditation, and even to have strong emotions or emotional pain come up.  I will write about that in general in another post (or talk about it in another podcast), but for now I’ll talk specifically about having this happen during the Chakra Meditation.

During the chakra meditation, we put our attention on the various chakras.  The chakras, or energy centers of the body, are like doorways to different aspects of ourselves.  They process the energy for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual functioning.  When we put our attention on a chakra, we become more aware of what is going on in the part of our life that the chakra represents.  Not only do we become more aware, but the energy in the chakra is enlivened by our attention.  

Our attention is a beam of energy and intelligence and, like a laser beam, it affects whatever it is directed toward.  With your awareness on your heart chakra, you may get in touch with something going on in your heart area.  It’s like shining a light into a dark room — what has been hidden becomes revealed.

In this case, you felt great emotional pain.  This could be pain associated with something going on in your life now that you’ve been ignoring, or it could be some pain “releasing” from the past.  The heart chakra has to do with our relationships and connections with others.  If there has been some loss or hurt in relationships, it is felt in the heart area.  The loss or hurt could even be associated with things and events, such as moving or losing a job.  If the feeling of hurt (or perhaps grief) isn’t fully “processed”, the energy of the feeling gets “stuck” in the heart chakra.  When we put our attention on the heart chakra, we may feel what is waiting there to be processed.  It’s the job of the heart chakra to process certain emotions, and when we relax in meditation and allow our attention to go there, the heart chakra gains the energy to do its job.  While no one likes to experience emotional pain, it is a part of healing and recovering from an emotional trauma. 

Very often we have grief that hasn’t been fully resolved in our lives.  Some cultures are better than others in supporting people through grief.  In many of our Western cultures, we’ve learned to suppress grief.  But our mind and body will always move toward greater balance and emotional well-being given the opportunity.  While meditating, things that have been under the surface can come up to be felt.

When something comes up that makes you feel too uncomfortable, you can always do what you did and stop the meditation.  It would be good if that happens to lie down and rest a bit to let things settle down. There are some other ways of dealing with strong emotions as well, and for something like this an experienced meditation guide could help.  The advice the guide would give would depend on some one-on-one exchange with you.  

After responding to the person who asked this question, he emailed back that indeed he had recently experienced a sort of emotional trauma and had been feeling quite numb until listening to the meditation. Based on that, I also want to add that it is quite normal to feel numb after a traumatic event like the death of a loved one, breakup of a relationship and any other intense loss or change.  It’s a healthy response of the body and psyche to protect itself from overload and allow us to continue functioning.  Usually that phase passes and we begin to feel our emotional reactions.  Sometimes, however, those reactions are buried and may surface again after a long period of time.  It’s not always possible to know where a strong emotion in meditation is coming from — it could be an emotion from a recent event or left over from something long ago.  In any case, part of healing is experiencing that emotion and meditation can sometimes facilitate that.  

Usually an emotional release will in meditation will not take too long to resolve and won’t cause undue discomfort.  Occasionally, however, meditation can open us up to some feelings that are so difficult for us that we would benefit from help from a trained counselor or therapist.  Be kind to yourself and get support if needed.

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