heather grace: mindfulness & self-compassion

Helping adults and children to create a more joyful and harmonious life…

Tag: mindfulness

Grieving Mindfully

Recently I’ve come face-to-face with a strong sense of loss, and I’ve needed every ounce of mindfulness and self-compassion that I could muster to allow the feelings of sadness and loss to be there, and to go gently with myselfrainbow_bridge.  My beautiful wee border terrier, given to me by friends after my last dog passed away, was put to sleep last week due to age-related illness.  It hurts.  Life feels fundamentally different and the lights seem dimmed.  I don’t compare my loss to that of others and indeed no comparison is necessary, for each loss is painful and no loss less worthy of attention.

For those of us whose lives have been touched by a relationship with an animal, it may have been the first time that we have truly encountered the experience of complete acceptance.  We don’t judge our pets and they don’t judge us.  They have no expectations of us.  They simply invite us to open our hearts.

A relationship with an animal is so simple and yet so profound.  Bowen was the best companion a family could ask for and the most incredible gift to receive.  I shall always feel deeply honoured to have been able to walk awhile through the journey of life with my furry wee friend, and for all that he taught me.

Rest in peace, my sweet, and if there is indeed a rainbow bridge, I’ll see you there.

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‘Holding Space’ – what does that mean?

Perhaps the most important gift we can give someone is our presence, and when a person is experiencing what I call ‘a storm’ then perhaps the most important thing we can do for them is to ‘hold space’; in essence, this means to be their safe harbour in the storm.  When we hold space for a child, they grow up knowing how to do this for themselves and others.

What exactly is the storm? This bonkers world that we live in causes ample opportunity for a person to experience a storm.  Some are caused by the inevitable difficulties that life presents us, such as loss (relationship difficulties, loss of health, loss of a loved one etc) and many of the storms are entirely self-created – imagine a moment when you smile at your boss in the morning as you arrive at work, and you don’t get a smile back.  Your mind goes into overdrive, analyzing your recent performance at work, looking for signs that redundancies may be coming up, convincing yourself that your boss is about to deliver the bad news that you’re surplus to requirements at the firm.  We seek sabre-tooth tigers everywhere, and evolutionary psychologists tell us that this is how we evolved to keep ourselves alive, but the negativity bias that we’ve developed can cause us great strife. The important thing is to hold space for any storm in exactly the same way.  It’s not helpful at all to point out to someone that they created their own storm (even if it’s true)!  When we hold space for someone, we do it in a completely non-judgmental way that allows for the unfolding of experience and allows them to come to their own insights.  This is deeply empowering.

We offer our presence – this means our complete attention – grounded and rooted in this moment and we listen deeply.

We don’t try to fix them, or make things different.

We don’t try to change them.

We don’t try to tell them what to do.

We hold the attitude of allowing, non-judgement, patience, and a willingness to just bear witness to the thoughts, feelings and emotions that are arising and moving through both ourselves and the person we’re holding space for.

This is completely transformative.

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My BE.LOVE method is a way of holding space for and empowering a child, with a particular set of steps.  You can read about this in my book, ‘Awakening Child: a journey of inner transformation through teaching a child mindfulness and compassion’, available on Amazon.

For now, wishing presence and joy for you,

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