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3 Ways Embodiment Can Help Manage Feelings of Loss and Grief

Loss is quite present in many of our lives. So, how do we navigate this turbulent terrain?

woman standing on the rocks watching sea sunset ,dramatic
Photo credit BABAROGA via Shutterstock.

My Story

My name is Donna Brooks, in July 2020, I lost my 36-year-old son, Michael, to a blood clot. The shock, grief, and ongoing sense of loss were unimaginable. As a result of this experience, I took my understanding of what I had been teaching as a master Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist (MSMT/E) and applied it directly to my own situation. This is what I learned has worked for me and now countless others that I work with. And I want to share that with you.

This article offers 3 ways embodiment (the practice of feeling and sensing) helps navigate loss. Please understand there are no hard and fast answers. However, embodiment can be a powerful aid in managing the feelings of pain, uncertainty, and dread that navigating an uncertain landscape after a loss can bring.

What is embodiment, and how does it help navigate loss?

Embodiment is about feeling and sensing. Of course, you may feel that you have felt enough loss and grief, but I don’t mean that kind of emotional feeling.

Human beings can feel through something called interoception. This is a sensory experience of the internal body we all have. It’s often neutral – like feeling too warm or hungry. It’s “body-up” messages that get from experience to the brain.

We also have proprioception.

Balance, movement in space, and joint use depend on one’s ability to feel and sense. Dancers, martial artists, and athletes understandably make this type of feeling more conscious.

Finally, we have exteroception. Here we use our senses to receive impressions from the outer environment,

Embodiment uses these senses and the feelings with them to ground us in current experiences and bring us home to our own bodies.

You May Want To Read: Somatic Movement Therapy: Unlocking The Body-Mind Connection

3 Embodiment Movements To Help Navigate Feelings of Loss

Becoming a deeply embodied person brings clarity. As you perceive yourself with aware movement, your brain and nervous system work less hard, so you can relax. Yes, even in the face of the difficulty of loss.

Embodiment brings us into the present, helping us navigate feelings of loss.

If you have been through loss counseling, you have probably been advised to focus on the here and now. That is easier said than done! But what if there were a natural way to live in the moment easily?

Noticing how the air feels on your skin or how your weight rests on a chair can facilitate being in the present. Sometimes, even that is too hard. So, doing something simple, something like shifting your weight from side to side can make your brain pay attention to feelings and thoughts of loss and grief at this moment. Try it!

Embodiment builds the resilience needed to navigate feelings of loss

woman laying on the floor
Photo credit fizkes via Shutterstock.

Navigating loss can be turbulent. Think of being out at sea in a storm. Your boat’s durability, strength, and responsiveness go a long way in determining your success at navigation. So, building a better boat is essential.

This boat must navigate even if it has lost its way. Here is a way to start building this type of embodiment:

Simply lie on your bed or the floor. Take a moment to imagine how and where your body would imprint the ground if you were on a damp or wet surface. Maybe it’s sand. Gently rock your pelvis so your lower back moves towards and away from the surface. Go easy—this is NOT exercise. Spend a minute or so and look at your contact points. I bet they have changed. Perhaps your lower back feels closer to the surface, and your breathing is slower.

When we are in the throes of loss and grief, we often experience back pain. It’s part of a stress reaction. So, doing something simple, easy, and pleasurable that removes stress will help you build a better boat. Perhaps the waves will feel less fast or furious.

Embodiment eases rumination, helping you accept loss

Okay, ruminating when you lose something is normal and natural. Loss is often inconceivable, even when it has happened! So, we try to figure out what went wrong. Or what we could have done differently. Even more painfully, you might be punishing yourself or remembering words or actions better left unsaid.

Did you know tuning into your heart can short-circuit rumination and help you navigate loss? I have added a video below—Jellyfish Heart Breathing—which can help you feel at ease in your suffering by allowing you to feel the beauty and aliveness of your own heart. Please try it and let me know how you feel!

You can also watch the entire series  Embodiment Meditations for Grief and Loss Playlist.

If you need help or resources to navigate loss, please keep reading.

I offer one-on-one sessions on working through grief with your body. This is crucial because so much grief counseling and reading material focuses on the mental and emotional aspects of grieving.

This is valuable, but engaging the presence and ground of my body with somatic movement helped me navigate my grief and helped me keep an even keel and trust in the uncertain future.

Most importantly, if you are someone you know is suffering from grief and loss, reach out to me.

The wind does not have to be sucked out of your sails after a loss.

Authors

  • Donna Brooks

    Donna Brooks is a somatic movement therapist and educator, yoga therapist, and embodied meditator who has 40 years of experience teaching, counseling and coaching in movement and the healing arts.

  • Robin Jaffin

    As the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners, LLC through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone she has played a pivotal role in promoting dietary solutions for individuals with specific needs in the health and wellness industry as well as amplify the voices and experiences of women worldwide.

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