Meditation and Grief

Posted on August 7, 2017 by Martin Oaks under Resources
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Families who experience a loss frequently ask what the best method of dealing with grief is. The staff here at Martin Oaks Crematory is certainly not qualified to provide definitive answers to questions that should be addressed to qualified professionals. Grieving is a serious issue – therapeutic and/or medical intervention may be necessary and we are not in a position to provide either. Nothing can substitute for a credentialed professional to help you through a very difficult process.

dealing with grief

Dealing with Grief

We can, however, on an anecdotal basis, recount some of our personal experiences, as well as experiences others have had with grief. These do not constitute endorsements or medical advice, but rather reflections on pathways other have followed as they search to ameliorate their loss.

In this blog we are going to explore meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, hypnosis, hypnotherapy, and affirmations.

We first became introduced to meditation in the mid 1970’s: it is a practice that goes back over 5,000 years. But, in that era, given the social situation, meditation experienced a renaissance (in part because the rock groups, the Beatles and Beach Boys, made a public embrace of transcendental meditation in the person of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi).


Benefits of Meditation

My teacher stressed that the history of meditation involved a myriad of religious traditions that reflect a broad range of practices and beliefs. The clinical benefits of the meditation evolving in the 1970’s were more narrowly focused on clearing the mind to open up a deep source of inner peace and wisdom.

It was a search for inner serenity that eliminated distractions with the repetition of a silent mantra – the end game being freeing the mind completely of outside thought. The practice of daily meditation certainly help in terms of managing stress and anxiety. Are these techniques healing? Do they improve situational problems, such a grief? It is our general conclusion that meditation is a great positive benefit and refreshing, but we leave the other questions to scientific research.

For us, the progressive muscle relaxation techniques developed by Edmund Jacobson in the 1930’s, with variations that came later, offer a very calming technique that, over time, can lead to a decrease in anxiety, fear of flying phobias, and improvement in concentration. Essentially, this practice consists of tensing and then relaxing muscles throughout the body, accompanied by a detachment from exterior thinking.

hypnosis and hypnotherapy

The Practice of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Now we come to the practice of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. What is the difference? At its simplest, hypnosis is a state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced external awareness, making one more likely to respond to suggestion. It is widely used by therapists to treat a variety of dysfunctions.

Again at its simplest, hypnotherapy is a combination of hypnosis and therapy. A skilled hypnotherapist can help a client not only reduce stress, but also work through phobias, obsessional thinking, relieving depression, overcoming addictions, and preventing panic attacks. The use of guided imagery can enhance or diminish certain patterns of thinking. While meditation may have as its goal clearing out external thinking, hypnosis has specific goals. Hypnotherapy, as is the case with all of the above disciplines, needs to be conducted by a trained and certified practitioner.

Lastly, the positivity of affirmations: what do we mean by the term affirmations – they are short statements which people repeat to themselves to offer self-nurturance. For example, in a difficult situation, a positive affirmation might be: “I have been through this before, this is not new territory for me, and I know that it will shorty pass.” These affirmations are particularly effective in fearful phobic situations, especially if they are accompanied by deep breathing.

A final note about these techniques: most of them involve deep rhythmic breathing. This helps stimulate the vagus nerve, which reduces stress.

Let us emphasize, we are not endorsing any specific therapeutic techniques to eliminate grief. Some of these practices may reduce behaviors associated with grief (insomnia, anxiety, etc.), but seeing a qualified, credentialed professional is always a good idea. We would also like to point out that many of the above techniques have now been incorporated in large companies to reduce stress in the work place.

Can you share any of your experiences with us in this area?

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