What does Ayurveda teach us about loss and grief and how can we cope with it?
“Whatever you feel is normal.”
During COVID-19, we are all experiencing a certain loss in various form. It can be a loss of a friend, a family member, a companion, a job, a business, a known life style, a relationship and so on. What does Ayurveda teach us about loss and grief and how can we cope with it?
Based on Ayurveda, when we experience separation whether it is physical or mental, we create Vata in our mind and body. Vata is composed of Ether & Air. Excessive Vata make us difficult to sleep, over-think, fidget, worry and lose focus. Vata creates pains in the body. As a result, we experience heartaches, stomach aches from anxiety and over-worries. Several circumstances include examples like female mensuration, menopause, death of love ones and moving away from home do create more Vata. COVID-19 has become a Vata habitat that everyone will naturally feel more Vata imbalanced.
It’s important to understand that whatever you are feeling right now is normal. We are all grieving at different scales, being forced to let go our old way of lives. If you are unfortunately losing someone close to you due to COVID-19, please remember that the only normal grieving process is the one we experience ourselves. I have gained tremendous help from the book by Dr. Kenneth J. Doka: Grief Is a Journey : Finding Your Path Through Loss. Understanding what you are experiencing right now will help you cope better with your emotions when you lose loved ones.
Hereby I’ve listed down some practical and easy tips you can practice at home right away to pacify Vata from Ayurveda. My aim of writing this post is to support you to go through this Vata excess period based on my direct experiences and training. Please note that all the guidances I am sharing here are merely based on my personal experiences and should not serve as your primary medical advices when treating any illness. Please consult with your medical practitioners when doubt.
Vata’s characteristics: Dry, rough, pain, cold, unfocused, worrying, fearful, fidgeting, under weight, sleep deprivation, over talking, chattering minds, fast but no action, distracted, sensitive to sounds, over-energetic but burn out fast..,etc.
- Keep your feet warm: Vata has a tendency of cold hands and feet. If you have cold feet, please soak your feet in warm water for 5 mins so it helps your circulations.
- Lubricate your body: Vata dries our body. If you discover your skins becoming extra dry these days, especially around your joints, moisturise them regularly. The best natural remedy is to use any vegetable oils, such as coconut or extra virgin cold pressed olive oils with a few drops of Lavandar essential oils. Leave your body with some water after shower without drying completely and apply the oils to your joints. The body absorbs the oils rather quickly and leave you refreshed.
- Touch your body: when we are sad, we store sadness in our tissues. Sometimes the traumas are hidden in the deepest tissues for years without you knowing it. Have you felt that emotions flow after a massage? In Chinese medicine, our Lung meridian carries sadness and grief. Lung meridian starts from (LU 1) under the mid clavicle in the first intercostal space above your chest, and if you massage this pressure point, the grief can be released. I recalled someone massaging me this area after my mother passed away, I bursted out in tears. You can simply use your thumb finger to gently rub this area or press into LU 1 for few minutes. Also you can do the Yoga Pose Broken Wings (here you can follow my Yoga tutorial video) to stimulate this meridian.
- Do breathing exercise: Pranayama means control of the Prana (life forces/ vitality) is especially good for Vata. To remind yourself to come back to the present moment by deliberately inhale and exhale longer and deeper will decrease Vata in the mind. Holding breaths for a shorter period of time when you have practiced after some time will help create space to meditation.
- Practice Silence: Vata is triggered by over-loading information. You can probably relate to that by following the news constantly and watching the conspiracy and debates over social media during COVID-19. Your mind and body will feel fed up at one point, however, let’s not wait until that burn-out happens to stop feeding ourselves with unhealthy information. Now it is the best time to practice Noble Silence, which is very helpful to calm the Vata minds. Offer yourself 2-3 times a week, turn down your screens, shut your phones for couple of hours or half day just to embrace the silence. No talking and no journaling. Practice silence during meals is the best way to enjoy your food.
- Keep Meditation Simple: In this time, the less is more. Practice Anapana or Vipassana meditation, or any breath observing meditations will help best. Focus on “surrender” and “forgiveness of disease” will ease your impatiences and agitations.
It’s not the best time to fast during the epidemic. If you like to fast, keep it a day on juice or fruit or just skip 1 meal a day. Full fasting will release more Amas (wastes) out of the body and that can leave us more vulnerable to virus.
Again, it’s my 2cents based on what I had practiced living in a modern busy world to share with you. I hope this post benefits you in some way or another. Feel free to quote and share out to anyone who need.
Sending you love and peace.