I often read internet postings from fellow bereaved parents expressing the terrible pain they are feeling after the loss of a child. I hear it in support groups and have lived through it myself. My son, Anthony, died when he was five years old to leukemia four years ago. As I hear and read these stories of depression, pain and sadness, I find that if I am not careful I, too, can take on those same feelings. Perhaps the same type of thing has happened to you. Depending on the energy in the room of a support group, you may have either left feeling enlightened or feeling incredibly depressed.
Why is that? As a Certified Massage Therapist and Day Spa Manage,r I can tell you that the transferring of energy between two people is very real. In other words, you can “catch” someone else’s sadness and pain much like you would catch a cold!
Recently I have noticed many support groups, both online communities and “real life” communities, are focusing heavily on the negative. Now don’t get me wrong, of course we experience negative emotions after the loss of a child and those are perfectly justified. What I am suggesting is that we shift our awareness toward the things that help us feel better and move us closer to healing. We need to balance the heavy with the light and temper the anger with love and self-care. Here are three simple ideas for shifting your energy from negative to positive, when you are ready.
One. Meditate! Some people confuse meditation with religion, so allow me to clarify. The purpose of meditation is to calm the mind and body so that you may center yourself. The way in which you meditate is totally up to you. There are several different ways to meditate including chanting (think Tibetan monks), using mantras (repeating a short phrase over and over), guided meditation recordings (free on youtube), or your favorite prayer. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you can use your favorite prayer to meditate with (think of how praying the rosary is used in Catholicism).
How long? It’s up to you. Meditation is soothing but it takes practice. If you can’t see yourself sitting cross-legged on your living room floor chanting mantras for an hour, that’s okay! Try listening to a guided meditation on youtube. Guided meditations are great for beginners and can really help right before going to sleep.
One of the benefits to meditating is it allows you to quiet your left brain, which is responsible for logical, linear thinking. As a result your right brain, which controls creativity and intuition, is able to be used to its fullest. While meditating you achieve great clarity, so answers to complex problems can often appear quite easily during a session. Meditation is also a perfect time to connect with your child’s spirit and have those conversations you so miss having.
Two. Massage! As I mentioned before, transferring of energy is a very real thing. So is the mind-body connection. Our sadness, pain, anger, anxiety and overall depression all manifest in a very real way in our bodies. If we are not careful, we will sadden ourselves sick! Some of you may be doing that right now.
A massage is a great way to release all of those emotions and toxic feelings in a loving and caring way. A skilled massage therapist will know where you carry your tension and give you practical solutions for regulating that pain. Some massage therapists are also trained to do special modalities, such as aromatherapy or a hot stone massage. Do a little research and ask your local day spa for recommendations. The average massage takes about an hour, but you will feel the benefits long after that hour has passed.
Massages help release toxins in the body, increase blood flow and mobility, reduce headaches and can release emotional pain. It is very likely that you will cry during your massage. Yes, cry! Why? Because our muscles have memory and when your massage therapist hits just the right spot you may feel a rush of release in the form of tears. It takes a tremendous amount of trust in your massage therapist to allow yourself to be open and vulnerable emotionally, but it is well worth it!
Three. Move! Hiding out is easy right? I know because I’ve done it. Getting up and stepping outside the house to get the mail feels the same as if you ran a 10k marathon. I am not going to lecture you on why physical activity is important, most of us already know that. What people outside of our little inner circle here don’t seem to understand is that we want to go out and get some exercise and do fun stuff but we have no motivation!
My idea is simply get out of the house and breathe fresh air. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. I don’t want you to do jumping jacks or squats. Just be. Sit outside for as long as you can. Before you know it, you will be noticing all kinds of beautiful things in nature that you would have never seen, heard or smelled had you stayed on the couch. If being outdoors feels good, make a ritual out of it. Have coffee on the porch each morning or your evening glass of wine out on the grass. You might even be inspired to create a small space in your yard where you can have your “you” time.
Wherever you are in your own grief journey, make time to take care of yourself in all aspects- spiritually, emotionally and physically. When you find yourself taking on other people’s negativity, be ready to combat that by learning new ways to shift your own energy. Like attracts like so if you can shift your energy in a positive direction, then more positivity will come your way. Try with some of these quick suggestions to start. You don’t have to change the whole world but you can definitely change your own!
About the Author- Shannon Harris is a bereaved mother, Certified Life Coach and author of “Breaking the Rules of Grief, How One Bereaved Mother Followed Her Own Path”. Contact information: ShannonHarrisHorton@gmail.com / website, www.ShannonHarrisLifeCoach.com