A Meditation for the Heavyhearted
I have a meditation ritual for my everyday life. It is accessible. Practical. And centering. I began my practice nearly three years ago as a meditation novice. I had very little exposure to mindfulness so I began a journey of trying out some different practices. What worked best for me was using the Calm app. You definitely don't need an app. Many people meditation on their own. But I do love a little structure and accountability. Calm tracks my meditation on a calendar so that I can see patterns and averages. I appreciate how customizable it is. Time is negotiable. You can pick your own sounds. You can sit with the topic of the day or pick another topic that feels more suitable to your situation. My daily practice is quite simple. I sit for the Daily Calm ten minute meditation. If I am feeling stronger emotions or a bit more anxiety than usual--I may sit for another ten minutes and pick a subject like focus, or the relationship with self series, or the gratitude series. It is pretty great.
Still, there are times in life when more support is needed. Deaths. Children suffering. Marital strife. Transitions of any kind. Loss abounds. So for these tougher times, I use a meditation taken from a book by Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho Tutu-- called The Book of Forgiving. While it is a meditation, it is also a visualization. I will do my best to describe what it looks like. What it feels like. One size does not fit all when it comes to processing loss. This may not be your thing. That is just fine. Proceed if you feel curious or open. I was skeptical when I first tried it too but I am so glad I did!
Picture yourself walking a nature scene of your choice. Allow this path that you are on to feel soothing to you. I am always in the woods somewhere, following a path. Breathe in the smell of the place. Hear your feet hit the ground. Is the sun shining? Cloudy? What do you hear? Fill in the details. You notice a house in the distance. Visualize the house. It is familiar and comforting. You climb up the steps. Open the door. You walk into a room with a cozy place for you to sit. What does the room look like? What does it feel like? I walk into a rustic cabin. There is always a fire in the fireplace. Blankets are spread out across the chairs and couch. At this point, you sit down. Now, take a deep breath. I want you to think of a person who represents safety in your life. They love you unconditionally. They can be alive or not. This person walks into the room. You are filled with love and comfort. See the warmth in their eyes. I always get up to hug my father. I really try to feel him again. We head over to the couch to sit down. Sit together for a moment. Now you notice a box on the table in front of you. You pick it up. It is a sturdy wooden box. When you pick it up, you feel the weight of it. You set it on your lap in between you and your person.
Now you feel all the feelings that are burdening you. Let them rise up in you. Give them life and breath. All the sadnesses. Betrayals. Griefs. Sufferings. Whatever is burdening you most. Visualize the feelings pouring out of you. You can say them to yourself. You can feel them and see the feelings coming out of you. As they do, they go into the box in front of you. Really feel what you feel. Cry freely. When you feel a sense of closure in expression, close up the box and hand the box to your loved person. Do this slowly and mindfully. Your love person takes the box of suffering as you hand it to them. The person can talk to you. Say words of love and understanding. This moment is yours to create. The person can also simply take the box of burdens in silence. When the box is given to your person of love and safety, they get up and walk away with the box. They have taken that burden from you (symbolically) for a time. You watch them go back to the room they came from. You stand up and leave the house. How do you feel? Walk down the path you came. Use all the sensory cues you can.
The more you practice this meditation/visualization, the greater the benefit. Now, I am not suggesting that this will heal you and make everything better. Hardly. But I have noticed, it has helped to take the edge off of my times of suffering. It has also helped me to process my feelings because I so freely allow myself to feel my grief in these moments. I make space for it all.
I wish you all a sense of relief in your wounded places. Sending you my love and support. As always, feel free to comment below if you try this meditation or if you have found other support that has helped ease your suffering.