Mindfulness means being aware and connected to the here and now. Regardless of what our circumstances are and what is going on in your environment, you stay present with what is without judgment.
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By being mindful, it connects you to your authentic self, including your intuition and feelings, with compassion and openness. This can help you to make decisions and act with clarity and honesty, and importantly, with kindness. Mindfulness is particularly important for those who grieve.
When we lose someone, our heart and mind are rarely in the Now. Instead, we get stuck in the past with thoughts like, “Maybe I could have saved him,” or “I wish I had told her I loved her more often.” We also get stuck in the future with thoughts like, “I’ll never be able to hug her again,” or “I’ll never attend his wedding.”
Processing your emotions is necessary for healing, but you can do so in the Now without judgment, regret, and remaining attached to the past in a way that creates suffering.
In a state of mindfulness, you’re choosing to reflect and work through your thoughts and feelings: “Okay, I understand I lost my brother. This is what happened. I have to accept it for how it is. This is my Now. This is my new normal.”
To achieve this mindful state, you practice to remove all attachments to what brings you pain. When you remain attached to how things were or how things will never be, you don’t acknowledge and allow for the change that has occurred in your life now.
It’s like having hot tar poured over you. The pain endures for as long as the tar sticks to your skin. Staying attached to and focused on those thoughts makes it impossible to achieve a mindful state.
Here are some tips that will help you overcome this problem:
1. The best way to achieve mindfulness is to put yourself into the observer’s seat.
Observe yourself in every moment. Observe what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, how it’s affecting others, what you’re thinking, and what you’re feeling. Sometimes what you observe may be painful like when you watch yourself replaying memories of your loved one’s funeral.
In cases like this, it helps to imagine that you have a Plexiglas shield in front of your face, and every time a painful thought enters your consciousness, let it plink off the shield and fall to the floor.
This detached form of observation prevents you from forming emotional attachments that keep you out of the Now. It takes diligence, determination, and discipline to be consciously aware of your thoughts in the present, but with practice, it can be achieved.
2. Identify the attachment.
As you learn to observe yourself, you can then identify the attachment: emotion, thought, or memory that is causing you to suffer. Practice looking at the thought as if there’s a fruit in your hand: turn it around, look closely, get curious, and identify it—“This is an orange.” This kind of objective introspection may feel foreign, and you may resist at first.
Again, the idea is to become a witness to your attachment—recognizing the orange is not you, and you are not the orange. It’s the same with your attachment.
3. Be aware of the times when you’re avoiding mindfulness to escape your own reality.
Letting your thoughts go wherever they want, to the past or to the future, is tempting because it gives you a false sense of freedom. When this occurs, your thoughts may be free, but you aren’t.
4. In your state of mindfulness, open yourself to the presence of the Now with your deceased loved one.
Meditate on the interconnection you have with all of life, seen or unseen. As challenging as it sounds when someone you love has died, this is possible. For instance, you might meditate and observe, “My son is dead, but we are still connected. I will continue to have a relationship with him. It will be different, but it will be real.”
As a mother whose child has died, I understand how profound the pain can be, but you can bring light back into your darkness with the realization that you haven’t really lost your loved one. They’re the same, just without a physical body and in a different spiritual dimension. In a mindful state, you can continue and even strengthen your relationship with them by disconnecting from the attachments forged by grief, and reconnecting to the ever-present life force. Remember that love knows no boundaries, even death.