Breathing Exercises

Managing Grief: 5 Ways Plus Breathwork to Get You Over The Hard Times

By Denise Everheart 

Loss of any kind can be a challenge to get over. Use these 5 ways to help manage grief plus breathwork to help you get over the hard times.

Too much grief can weigh us down like nothing else. It can also feel like the wind or our very life force was knocked out of us. Sometimes we know what we are grieving and sometimes it isn’t so clear. Grief affects everyone to some degree at some point. Whether it is the loss of a loved one or the loss of normalcy due to isolation during a pandemic or anything in need to move through grief in order to heal and come out the other side.

But what if you find yourself stuck in prolonged grief and can’t move forward? 

Counseling is always an option, as are support groups. But there are many other options you can also use to help yourself get ‘unstuck’. Breathwork and a myriad of other self-care tools can make a significant difference when dealing with the grieving process. 

1)  Honoring loss

Honoring your loss might seem like an obvious place to start, but even that can be a challenge sometimes. Honoring loss can happen in the middle of your grieving process, even perhaps as a final step. There is no rule that says that it has to happen at a certain point in your recovery. In particular, honoring the loss of a loved one is an important step in healing. It is also a very personal expression and may look different from how another chooses to honor their dear one. Here are a few ideas you might like to consider.

  • Write in a gratitude journal about all the positive impacts your loved one or your job, even a previous relationship had on your life

  • Light a candle in front of a picture of your dear one and say a prayer

  • Continue a mission or project that was important to your dear one or part of your previous job’s community service that you especially enjoyed

  • Re-tell stories of your loved one’s life or that they had shared with you

  • Be creative and spend some time pondering how you can uniquely honor that which is no longer with you but contributed so much to your life

2)  Dealing with stress

Stress is unavoidable. And we all have our ways of dealing with stress, some healthy, some not. But even ordinary stress can have a profound impact on us when we are already feeling depleted. 

One of the easiest stress-buster techniques is a breathing exercise called Bellows Breath. It is taught for free during Beyond Breath, an online session on breath and meditation. Bellows Breath is especially good at clearing away too many thoughts. For more information see below.

3)  Managing anxiety

When we lose someone or even lose our job we might naturally start to worry about the future. What if what happened to them happens to me? What will I do without them? What if I cannot find another job? But spending too much time thinking about all the ‘what ifs’ robs us of the present moment. However unpleasant the present moment might be, being present is an important step in managing anxiety.

The quickest way to be in the present moment is to take your attention to your breath. Breath, unlike the mind which oscillates between the past and the future, is always in the present. To maximize this dynamic try doing a simple breathing technique called Straw Breath. Straw Breath is excellent at reducing blood pressure in the moment, though it is not a substitute for medication. 

Read this article to learn straw breath: Calm Your Anxious Mind in 5 Minutes: Try This Easy Straw Breathing Now, video included

4)  Preventing depression

Prolonged grief can be a slippery slope, especially when stress and anxiety aren’t remedied. No one wants to slide into a state of depression, not even briefly. Here’s a list of preventative tips and remedies to help pull you out of depression before it has a firm grip.

  • Food. If you aren’t eating healthy foods, your mind and emotions could suffer even more. Try eating more fresh foods which are naturally high in prana (subtle life force energy) like colorful fruits and veggies.

  • Sleep. Getting enough good-quality sleep is critical. You might even find yourself needing extra sleep. If you do, that’s ok! Read: Sleep Solutions to Help You Rest Well and Face the Day: A to Zzz if you are struggling to sleep.

  • Kindness. We stop thinking “what about me” when we help others. It might seem very challenging at first, but stretch your hand out to another person in need- you will begin to feel lighter with every act of kindness.

  • Dance. We have all heard the saying, “Dance like no one is watching!” This applies to not only overcoming shyness but also to release pent-up emotions. It is rather cathartic to dance without restricting yourself, and you might find yourself having a much-needed good cry!

  • Praise. Be sure to give yourself a pat on the back when you have had even small successes on your journey through grief. Praising, whether yourself or another, is a little-known way to raise your life force energy! You got this! 

  • Valor. Sometimes you need to gather all your strength to face the day. Call on your inner lion/lioness to invoke valor and tackle the day!

  • Spiritual Wisdom. Spiritual teacher and ambassador of peace, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares how to not let sadness control your life, watch here.

  • Sound baths. Music to soothe the soul is just the ticket to lift you up and make your sadness smaller. Read here for sound baths and mental bubble baths for a different kind of transformational pampering.

  • Meditate. Meditation for depression relief is a widely recognized self-care tool. One of the best meditation techniques to consider is mantra-based meditation known for its effortlessness. If you don’t have a mantra-based meditation practice yet, try this guided meditation led by Sri Sri, Transforming Emotions.

  • Breathe. This cannot be overstated! Breathwork is key when dealing with emotions. The Art of Living Foundation offers a wealth of breathing techniques for handling your mind and emotions- definitely worth exploring!

5)  Breath-based Meditation

Where do you feel grief in the body? Often there is a sensation in the throat area. Where do you feel gratitude? Also in the throat! You feel choked up with either emotion. It is possible to transform grief into gratitude, not just by appreciating all the blessings in life but by facilitating a shift energetically using breath and meditation. 

SKY Breath Meditation masterfully takes you from grief and sadness to optimism and joy! Studies have shown that SKY significantly decreases both clinical and non-clinical depression. Learn SKY Breath Meditation and you will find yourself coming out the other side of grief into a life filled with more happiness.

To learn more about SKY, and Bellows breath, attend a free session called Beyond Breath. A meditation instructor will also lead you through a guided meditation. 

Lastly, know that time is a good friend and this too shall pass. You got this!

Denise Everheart is a freelance writer, breath meditation coach, party planner, and recipe designer. Follow her @everheartstudio4meditation and @celeplateyourlife on Instagram.

    Art of Living Part 1 course: Discover Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ancient secret to modern well-being.

    Subscribe to Art of Living Blog Digest