Meditations for Grief
The Practice of Tratak
Tratak is an ancient cleansing technique that helps to clean the body and mind to prepare the
body for understanding the spirit. Tratak helps balance the endocrine system by re setting the
Pineal gland which in turn regulates stress, enhances the immune system, decreases anxiety, improves memory, regulates mood, increases concentration, and it is thought to stimulate the third eye (Ajna chakra).
The Pineal gland is a photoactive gland that as the sun goes down it will increase the
secretion of melatonin that helps the body sleep. When the sun comes up the pineal
gland secretes less melatonin so the body will awaken.
Many times in grief a person’s sleep patterns are disrupted. A person will either sleep too much or too little. Using Tratak stimulates the optic nerves which can help re-set the pineal gland so a person can have improved sleep patterns.
Tratak also helps a person focus on the present and also be able to look into the future. When looking at the thumbnail it reminds the person to be present to what is in this moment. When focusing on the object in the distance it can help an individual understand that they have a future and they can set goals for their future. The distant object they will focus on during Tratak practice can be something they want in the future, i.e., a new house, a vacation, calm mind, etc.
How is Anahat (Heart) Chakra involved in grief?
Anahat chakra or the heart center relates to physical and emotional bonding-bonding to others, ourselves and the world around us. Attachment happens in the Anahat chakra and this is where we feel love. When we have a relationship with a person or are “attached” to an object we have feelings for them, we enjoy them, we love them, and we want to be able to enjoy their presence. Through these positive experiences bonds are formed.
Sometimes these bonds can have a negative effect as they may attach ‘cords’ that bind us and don’t allow us to live freely. So when we lose someone or something we feel like we have lost part of ourselves and we struggle to understand who we are without our loved one or object. Many times we define our lives by the stories we tell and when someone or something is missing from our story, our story no longer makes sense.
It is at this heart center that we feel our “broken heart” when we are in grief. Anahat chakra is located between the shoulder blades and is expressed in the heart center of the chest. This chakra relates to the cardiac plexus of nerves which affects the breath, circulatory system, and the thymus gland. When we are “broken hearted” we may experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, hunched shoulders that are trying to protect the heart area, and increased or decreased heart rate.
These physical symptoms happen because a bond has been severed with someone or something that we love and are attached to. “Because our body cannot lie, it “knows”: as our mind struggles profoundly to understand our loss.”
Extend your right arm with your fist closed: your thumb pointing up, nail facing you.
Locate a distant object and align your thumbnail with the object. Focus on your thumbnail.
Shift your focus to the distant object. Shift back to your thumbnail. Repeat six times.
(Start with a few conscious breaths and work at your own pace.
(60 second period of time for each focal period is optimal)
When working with grief we most often choose to start with the focus being on the thumbnail
(as an extension of ourselves); and then we shift to the distant object of focus and return
to the thumbnail to complete the practice. Focusing on one’s thumbnail represents
connection with a familiar extension of “us”.
As ones practice evolves one can choose to start with the distant object as the “unknown
or undefined” future or specifically the “intentional future hopes and dreams”.
We can then choose to stop the practice on our thumbnail or return to the distant object
for completion of that particular practice. We can use a picture or a familiar object to represent
the future aspect.
- Stimulates the optic nerves therefore then stimulates the functions of the Pineal Gland.
- Increased levels of melatonin, regulates many biorhythms, especially sleep/wake cycle.
- Regulates stress by influencing the flight-fight-fright reaction and
- Modulates the immune system.
- Increases nervous stability, removes insomnia, and relaxes the anxious mind.
- Improves the memory and helps to develop good concentration and strong will-power
- Heightens one’s spiritually as it awakens Ajna Chakra
Degriefing: Somatic Quick Tips
Q. What are STUGS? (Therese Rando)
A. Sudden Temporal Upsurges of Grief.
Skillful response: Nostril breathe and make mental note of the feelings in and the
information appearing in front of or inside of you.
To diminish or prevent: 'Compathy': Bereavement overload, Empathy Fatigue & Burnout:
Practice Simple self-care with 'Somatic Quick-Tips':
- engage in a personal A.M. ritual daily
- run hands under cold water
- nostril breathe at all times
- write your feelings
- talk to a consultant
- smile for no reason
- sing your favorite song out loud
- sit and observe your breath for 5 minutes: attention on belly
- engage in a personal P.M. ritual daily
- work for something you believe in
Practice: Left/Right Nostril Breathing
(for no more than 90 seconds only a time)
Breathing through only one nostril is a powerful Practice. Close one side and feel the effects of the properties enhanced as the air enters and leaves through the other side.
- Breathing through the right nostril will energize.
- Breathing through the left will calm and slow.
Amazingly effective do only when sitting and observing the changes you note.
Remember Left = Lunar!