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Moving Through Grief

We are all born, and we all die, transition, or better yet, “transform.” I think a major part of our most horrifying grief is the thought that someone we love is gone. For children who lose a parent, a parent who loses a child, a partner who loses a partner, or a friend who loses a friend, the reality is yes, our dear loved one is “gone” on a daily basis from our lives, and we will not have the opportunity to spend earthly human time with them any longer. This “loss” is not easily processed.

Keep in mind though that energy (chi) doesn’t die, but merely transforms, so what may be “gone to our eyes” is significantly transforming into new forms of energy.

Like water boiling and disappearing into vapor, and like clouds forming one beautiful formation after another then dissipating into an invisible state to us, life as we know it also moves and changes forms, constantly.

It is as the Lakota and Sioux referenced as the Great Spirit and the Great mystery (Wakan tanka), and as the Taoists termed the Way (Tao = the Way of Life) — the unexplainable but beautiful Law of the universe that just “IS.”

In 1988 at age 26, I “lost” my sister Linda and my father within months of each other. We had gone from a happy, typically dysfunctional American family of 5, down to 3 — mom, sister Kathy, and me. I cannot remember a more shocking and devastating time.

Shock is most certainly part of any grief—it is shocking to lose someone you love, especially if it is a sudden loss. From an energetic standpoint, the person feeling the loss experiences an extreme energy blockage, an inward gasp, often a stalled frozen moment that sometimes, left unattended, doesn’t unclench for years.

I remember punching a concrete wall, twice, with each devastating phone call. My energy became stuck, anger stuffed down into my body, sad moments stalled in my mind, shrouding my heart with an impenetrable cloak. This “holding in,” fear of the emotional release, is the unhealthy part, and it was part of my experience.

Having just moved to Los Angeles, on the wave of my hilariously fun aerobic career, I was traveling the world teaching at fitness conferences, carrying Jane Fonda onstage, modeling for Men’s Fitness Magazine, and working out like a fiend avoiding my feelings and pretending all was well inside of me. It wasn’t.
In 1995, seven years later, I entered a Tai Chi class with Master Tim O’Connor in Los Angeles. As he taught the movements so slowly and beautifully, I was mesmerized by the elegance of the mysterious martial art. As I stood grounded into my leg base, breathing slowly and fully, moving my body in a way that truly felt like a life-altering body meditation, something amazing began to happen. My body began to “unclench,” my emotions began to flow, and my grief finally began to process.

It was so intense for me that I had to leave class to go sob in the parking lot, something that was definitely long overdue. Tai Chi continues to be a healing art for me, a place where emotions and energy flow with breath and movement.

Honoring our own feelings is so important, giving ourselves permission to emote, not just about grief, but about everything. And also some of the best things we can do for others who are grieving is to listen compassionately, hold their hand, hug them, and encourage them to express their feelings. It is vital to verbalize, to speak of the missing loved one, and to keep the grieving process moving.

Like a stagnant smelly pool of water, when we are stuck energetically, it is not pleasant for the body, mind, and spirit. When we can envision and emulate a running stream of crystal clear water, clouds moving effortlessly through the sky, and trees blowing gently in the breeze, we can begin to reconnect with nature, Life, and movement of divine energy.

Moving your energy certainly won’t bring your loved one back, but it will clear the cosmic pipes within you and profoundly affect how you process and learn to accept the new reality—hopefully bringing you to a place of peace, knowing that your loved one is not “gone” but has left the body and merely transformed, as intended—as we all will when it is our time.

These exercises are marvelous for helping “move your chi,” so you can release pent up grief, anxiety, anger, and stress, moving into a clearer, happier space. Enjoy; they are quite beautiful, and so are you. If emotions come up, let them flow: