Buddhism, grief, and loss

September 30, 2014

Ancient Buddha head without body in Sukhothai, ThailandRecently a meditation student who’s only just begun practicing wrote to say that she’d experienced a bereavement. She wondered if I had any suggestions to help her through the grieving process.

I have to say first of all that I’m not a grief counsellor. I’m just a meditator who has ended up sharing what he’s learned about working with pain. And I also would like to add that I’m hesitant to give advice in such situations because I know how feeble words can be in the face of powerful emotions. I long ago gave up on the notion I once held that there is some magical form of words that will make everything better.

Despite … Read more »

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” Rainer Maria Rilke

November 18, 2013

rilke_33A woman on the Triratna Buddhist Community’s Urban Retreat, which this year focused on the theme of cultivating lovingkindness, or metta, asked a question about how to deal with “strong emotion” — especially grief — that may arise during lovingkindness practice. For this person, grief tended to arise particularly while she was cultivating lovingkindness toward herself, and she wondered how to be honest with her experience but not dissolve into and become lost in it.

I offered her a few suggestions, which I’ll enlarge on here:

1. Stop considering grief as an emotion.

Is grief an emotion? Is “emotion” even a meaningful term, in the context of Buddhist practice?

Increasingly I find the word … Read more »

Sorrow is failed compassion (Day 28)

May 9, 2013

100 Days of LovingkindnessI’ve had more people asking me about the “near enemy” of compassion. So here goes…

The “near enemy” is, by definition, something you might confuse with compassion. You might think you were cultivating compassion but were actually cultivating something else, in the same way that you might water and care for a weed, thinking it’s a useful plant. The “far enemy” is quite straightforward. It’s cruelty, or indifference to suffering, which is just the direct opposite of compassion. That’s easy to understand. But what is compassion’s “near enemy”?

People often use the word “pity” to describe the near enemy, but the traditional commentaries use the word “grief.” Compassion is also said to fail when it … Read more »

Yoga, meditation helps heal grief

March 8, 2010

People cope with the death of a loved one in different ways.

A local woman is using mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation and journaling to help grieving folks cope with the loss.

Heather K. Whittington holds a master’s degree in thantology, the study of death and dying, from Hood College. She is also a Certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner.

She combined her professional training in both to launch Mindful Grief at Mind-Body Therapies, 5 N. Bentz St., Frederick . Services include Yoga for Grief classes, group relaxation workshops and private Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions.

“Grief is a physical reaction to loss that causes emotional, physical and behavioral responses that creates more stress,” … Read more »