A Meditation For Grief
by Stephen Levine
Introduction To The Meditation For Grief.
The armoring around the heart is the accumulation of our grief, all the moments we have put ourselves out of our like, and all the times we have given ourselves and others so little mercy. On the way to healing the mind and body into the heart of the matter, our grief must be explored to go beyond the holdings of old mind and open in a brand-new way to the potentials of this very instant. One need not have experienced the death of a loved one in order to find this exploration a very useful endeavor. It makes room in our heart for our pain, for our joy, for our life.
There is a point on the chest, on the sternum, roughly between the nipples about two or three inches above where the rib cage comes together. It is the focal point for this process. It is the place where we hold much grief. When you find it, it will be unmistakable and on some extremely sensitive.
Want to push in gently to stimulate that point to feel the pushing back not to cause pain. This is not an exercise in endurance; it is an exercise in opening ourselves to the pain of grief and to connect it to the heart center. One of the remarkable qualities of this meditation is that when you have completed your process and taken your finger away, you may still quite possible feel distinct sensations in the grief point. This is when the grief point becomes the touch point for the heart and becomes the place where you continue to breathe compassion in and out of the heart.
The Meditation for Grief
Let your eyes close. As your eyes close and you feel your body breathing, let your hand, your thumb, and press into that point at the center of the chest between the nipples where it feels so sensitive to the touch. Push gently into it. Feel all that pushes back. Feel all that tries to resist, that denies the pain. All the armoring. All the resistance to life. Push into it. Let the pain into your heart. Breathe that pain into your heart. All those moments of self-hatred, all that anxiety, all those times you could just jump out of your skin. All those moments you wished you were dead. All held there, all pushing against the pressure, all denying life. Let the heart break. Breathe the pain into the heart. Let the pain in. Let yourself in, it is so long since you have entered fully into your heart. Feel the grief that lies there just beneath the tip of your thumb. All the loss. All the moments you could not protect yourself or the people you loved. The helplessness. The hopelessness. Feel it, breathe that pain into your heart. Let go of the resistance. Let go of the self-protection. It is just too much suffering to be locked out of your heart. Nothing is worth it.
Push resolutely into your heart. Not causing you pain but creating deep attention to whatever arises there. Breathe in that pain. Acknowledge that place which knows that all your children, all your friends will die some day. The place that knows you might die some day. The place that knows you might die and leave so much undone. All the things you did not say, all the love you did not give, all the pain you may have caused, all the pain you have held on to right there pushing back. Breathe it through, push that pain, let it in, and let it into your heart.
All those feelings of having been misunderstood, of having been unloved right there in the midst of these sensations. And how hard it is for us to love, how incredibly hard it is to keep the heart open. So frightened, so doubtful, so scared; let the armoring melt into the center of your heart without force, without punishing yourself. Draw the pain in, draw it in with each breath.
With each breath let your heart is filled with yourself. So much has gone unexpressed. Layer upon layer covering the heart let the pain in. Let the pain come and the pain go; have mercy on you. Let the pain out; breathe it in and breathe it out. So much held for so long. Let it go. Let yourself into your heart. Make room in your heart for yourself. Have mercy on you. Let it come and let it go.
Let the thumb push into the armoring that guards the feelings of loss and grief there. Focus the attention like a single point of light in the center of the pain. Go deeper. Don’t try to protect the heart. Maintaining a steady gentle pressure at the center of the chest, feel the suffering held there. All the loss held, all the fears, the insecurity, the self-doubt. Surrender into the feelings. Let it all come through. Allow the pain into your heart; each breathes breathing awareness into the heart, each exhalation releasing the pain of a lifetime. Let yourself experience it all. Nothing to add to it. Nothing to push away. Just see what is there, what we have carried for so long.
Feel the inevitable loss of everyone you love. The impotent anger of being tossed into a universe of such incredible suffering. Bring it into a soft awareness that dissolves the holding with each breath. Let yourself be fully born evening the midst of the pain of it all. Let your heart open into this moment. Allow the long held grief to melt. Let your heart open into this moment. Allow awareness to penetrate into the very center of your being. Use the sensations and the grief point as though they were a conduit, a tunnel into the center of your heart, into a universe of warmth and caring. Feel the heart expanding into space. The pain just floating there. Fear and loss suspended in compassionate mercy. Breathe into the center of the heart. Let go of it. Let the heart open past its longing and grief.
Now take your hand away and fold it in your lap. Feel the sensitivity remaining, throbbing at the center of your chest as though it were a vent into your heart. Draw each breath into that warmth and love. Breathing in and out of the heart.
Breathing in and out of the heart.