Updated: Apr 5
How Living in the Moment Can Help You Get Past Grief
It was whimsical...really...the way the snow covered the ground like cotton. Snowflakes dancing in perfect harmony. It was 2010, a snow storm fell that January in Maryland, I sat in my living room trying to breathe. Something was happening to me that I'd never experienced before, I was having a panic attack.
It was the night after my daughter Zoe’s funeral and in order to survive my mind had been jumping between reality and non reality. The mother in me couldn't rest, in my mind, my little girl was out there and I was sure she was cold and she needed me.
The more the wind whipped outside the more the room seemed to close in on me. Her absence sat on my chest, making it harder to breathe, harder to accept. I crawled to a corner and held myself as tight as I could, I stared out of the window, it looked like a fairytale outside but inside of me felt like a nightmare. Like the branch on the tree barely hanging on from the weight of the snow, I felt like grief would break me any minute.
I felt lost for years after losing two children 6 months apart because there were pieces of me that were now gone and I couldn't get them back.
When you're living in the moment, your focus is on that moment only. The past and the future can't touch you. Grief like every other crossroad on your journey, does not change you, it reveals you.
It can be a difficult task to put your feelings about the past or future aside. It's like when someone says, "Don't think of a pink elephant!" Did you think of one, just now?
Well, your grief is sometimes that pink elephant and it seems like there's nowhere to turn. In this situation, you can look for help from present moment thinking.
Remaining in the present takes practice. While you're learning how to live in the moment, remember that it gets easier as time goes on.
You can work on controlling your thoughts, but one practice that's all about staying in the present moment is meditation. This simple exercise can also help you work through grief.
Here are some meditation tips:
Make a meditation schedule - 15-30 minutes per day every day.
Go to a place where you can relax and be alone.
Sit in a position with good posture.
Take deep breaths in and out.
You can use a "mantra" or positive affirmation to help you focus.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, and then let them go.
The most difficult thing you might encounter when learning to meditate is calming your busy mind. Focusing on your breathing helps clear away extraneous thoughts and worries.
When you're grief stricken, it's an especially difficult time to keep a clear mind. Thoughts of the past will more than likely keep coming up in your practice. This is normal. As you continue practicing, it will get easier to focus on the now.
An important thing to remember is to avoid judging yourself. Don't punish yourself for thinking of the past when you're trying not to think about it. Realize that your mind is taking a turn you didn't intend, and then lightly nudge it back in the right direction. Be grateful that you were able to catch yourself in the midst of a negative thought, and then move on.
Keeping Up Your Practice
Once you've adopted a mindset of present moment thinking, concentrate on keeping up with your practice. Rather than a mechanism you turn to only when you're in a pinch, consistent present moment thinking can bring you an exhilarating new lifestyle!
When you learn to live in the moment, you'll find peace and happiness in life. You'll be more calm and collected and enjoy every moment for what it is. How amazing is this!
Moment By Moment
As your practice deepens, you'll fully realize that life is just a series of moments. It's not a definable measure of time, but you'll feel many moments in every minute. Little by little, you'll learn to recognize them.
You may find it difficult to remain in the present just because you must refer to the past and plan for the future in order to live. This is true, of course, but once the reflection is over, and the planning is put away, your goal is to remain in the moment as much as possible.
Refer to the past when you must, but avoid reliving grief or daydreaming.
Plan for the future, but don't obsess over it.
Look at what you're experiencing right now, find something to be grateful for and immerse yourself in that gratitude.
When your mind is completely focused on the present moment, you'll be surprised at how beautifully energizing life can be!
Remember, God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you. Deuteronomy 31:6