by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Sit in Silence and Solitude
- The mystery of grief invites you to honor the need for periods of silence and solitude. As you quiet yourself, you sustain an open heart and a gentle spirit. Mother Teresa often said, “The beginning of prayer is silence.”
- You may not have access to a cloistered monastery, a walk in the woods, or a stroll on the beach, but you do have the capacity to quiet yourself. Consciously hush yourself and place trust in the peace you help initiate. As you sit with silence, you acknowledge that you value the need to suspend, slow down, and turn inward as part of the grief journey. Giving attention to the instinct to mourn from the inside out requires that you befriend silence and respect how vital it is to your healing journey.
- Many of the symptoms of grief are invitations to the need for silence as solitude. Disorganization, confusion, searching and yearning and the lethargy of grief try to slow you down and invite a need for you to savor silence. Yes, astutely observed, “For many afflictions, silence is the best remedy.”
- Silence contains the ingredients that can bring some peace in the midst of the wilderness. The forces of grief weigh heavy on your heart. Silence serves to life up your heart and create much-needed space to give attention to your grief. Being in silence helps restore our energy and inspires courage to explore how you are forever transformed by your grief.
Today, be silent for a whileâ€”silent with yourself and with God. For many people, this is a difficult spiritual practice, but one that is well worth the effort.
Write a Poem
- Poetry is the music of language. It is sound and imagery and rhythm delivered in little packets.
- Poetry compresses great meaning into a few carefully chosen words, and as such, it can be very emotional and spiritual.
- You can write a poem if you try. It doesn’t need to follow any particular rules. It doesn’t need to rhyme or have a certain meter. It can be and say anything you’d like.
- An elegy is a poem that remembers someone who has died. Perhaps you would like to write an elegy in memory of someone you love and miss very much.
Write a poem to God today that expresses what you’re thinking and feeling right now.
Spend Time in “Thin Places.”
- In the Celtic tradition, “thin places” are spots where the separation between the physical world and the spiritual world seem tenuous. They are places where the veil between Heaven and earth, between the holy and the everyday, are so thin that when we are near them, we intuitively sense the timeless, boundless spiritual world.
- There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.
- Thin places are usually outdoors, often where water an land meet or land and sky come together. You might find thin places on a riverbank, a beach, or a mountaintop.
- Go to a thin place to pray, to walk, or to simply sit in the presence of the holy.
Your thin places are anywhere that fills you with awe and a sense of wonder. They are spots that refresh your spirit and make you feel closer to God. Go to a thin place today and sit in contemplative silence.
- You may have heard it said that there is no past, there is no future, there is only this moment.
- In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tollé encourages us to truly be present in the current moment. “Life is now,” he writes. “There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be… Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”
- The challenge is that it is really hard to live in the moment. Our minds constantly revisit the past and think forward to the future. Our egos dwell on what was and what will be.
- Tollé and others believe that your mind is different from your spirit. Your mind is the house of the ego; your soul is the house of the spirit. Your spirit-your essence-can observe the egoic antics of the mind. Your ego is earthbound; your spirit is timeless.
- The next time your mind takes you away from the present and into worry and fear, allow your spirit to watch your mind and smile at its earthly obsessions.
Attend to the now. Drop everything and just be for five minutes. When your monkey mind starts to chatter, silence it by repeating the mantra om.
Copyright 2007, Center for Loss and Life Transition