MIND AND BODY LIMITS STRUCTURE FOCUSING
will have been impacted by the death of the person we love. We know from neuroscience that every thought has a physiological component that is felt in the body. The pain of grief is often experienced in much the same way as fear and tips our body into a heightened state of alert. We need to establish a regime that helps to regulate the body. The more habitual the action, the more effective it is. The regime should include: Cardiovascular exercise, which helps to ease the feeling of fear. Relaxation or meditation, which helps to manage our anxiety. Eating regularly, without great spikes of sugar, coffee or alcohol, which cause the body to peak and then crash. When we experience a life-changing loss, it is likely to affect our performance at work and our reactions in a social context. It is important to recognise the power of saying ‘no’. Paradoxically this enhances the power of ‘yes’, for when we say ‘no’ our subsequent ‘yes’ is infinitely more positive. Friends and family can get bossy when we are grieving and are keen for us to get back into the swing of life, but nobody else can know what our limits are. It is up to us to pay attention to them and voice them clearly. In the chaos of grief we can feel as if our world has tilted off its axis. It can help to build a pillar of structure (with some flexibility built into it, for too much control can be counterproductive). Develop a structure of good habits: Exercise first thing. Do some work or chores. Take time to remember the person who has died. Choose to do something calming such as buying flowers, having a massage, cooking nice food or listening to music. Have regular times for sleep. Developing a structure of good habits has a multiplying effect: the more we do them, the better we feel. It takes six weeks for a practice to become habitual. People often talk about grief as ‘a knot’ in their stomach. Sometimes their arms, legs or head feel heavy. When there are no words for these bodily sensations, focusing is a way of finding them. Direct your attention internally and breathe into – focus – on this ‘felt sense’. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply, three times. Direct your attention to the place where there is the most sensation. Find a word that describes that place – does it have a shape, a colour? Is it hard, soft? If the image could speak, what would it say? Then follow where the image takes you.