Quick, pick something in the room around you to pay attention to. I’m seeing a sneaker under the coffee table in my living room. Notice the size, the color, the laces, perhaps the dirt…all the intricate details and textures of that sneaker. Fully investigate that sneaker thoroughly, how it feels to your fingertips. (You may not wish to smell it, but you get the idea!) You know what you just did? You re-circuited some brain patterns in your mind.
Anytime you get flooded with seemingly unbearable feelings of grief, bring yourself to the present moment. First, recognize what your body is doing. You might think something like, “I’m producing a lot of tears, I can hardly breathe. My heart is racing, my stomach feels sick, I feel like I have pressure on my chest.” Then find something outside of yourself to concentrate on. Like a sneaker. Or, focus on the input from only one of your senses. For example, you can listen intently to the world around you, hearing every creak of the building, or note in a song, and pay 100% attention to every sound you hear. Try this with your other senses too.
We develop habits of grieving like we develop any other habit…good or bad. You may have a good habit of brushing your teeth and you may have a bad habit of feeling guilt. Do you have a repeating “should” about something did or said? Something you should or shouldn’t have said? Or should or shouldn’t have done? The more you think that thought, the more it becomes implanted as a habit. In fact, neural patterns are forged in your brain the more you repeat something. So, if you want to reduce your grief, remember that anytime you repeat a negative thought, you are in effect increasing your grieving time.
The more you practice being in the present moment, the more you will find new thoughts coming to your mind. Pay attention to the ones that inspire you as you begin to find your way out of grief.