Silent Sundays: Heavy Heart? Lighten the Load

Special note: Today’s meditation may be especially useful for those with a loved one struggling with a progressive or chronic condition. The practice is calming and centering: In that space, some light may shine…

On this post-Thanksgiving, pre-Winter-and-all-of-its-holidays Silent Sunday, I find myself somewhat encumbered: A heavy heart is slowing my stride, draining my reserves, and beckoning misguided thoughts.

About a week ago, after my daily morning conversation with my deep-dementia mother, I called my sister to, as I told her, “talk with someone whose voice I recognized.” As soon as I said it, I burst into tears.

A few days later, in response to a genuine “how are you” from a trusted friend, I again started to cry.

And just last night, while watching a not-especially-emotional program, the tears began to build.

In an effort to understand my leaden heart, I considered: Holiday blues? Nope, not a typical culprit for me. Loneliness? Recent loss or disappointment? No, to both. Response to less sunlight? I generally prefer the shorter days.

So, what could be the source of this weeping heart?

What I have discerned is that what I thought was a No to “Recent loss or disappointment?” is more of a Yes. The loss, however, is not recent, nor is it past; perhaps the ongoingness, itself, is the very weight hanging on my heart. 

And in writing that, I realize that that is true.

For as I think this and now write it, I know that the steady disappearance of my mother is an energy shift that reverberates profoundly throughout my Heart Center. Always close, perhaps to a detrimental degree at times, my mother and I made great strides over the past 15-20 years to establish “healthy boundaries.” I exalted in the times when I could stand my ground, or when she did not exert her will over my choices. I respected her past and path, and learned to separate my decisions from her desires. We had evolved, and in so doing, could enjoy a new relationship born of a deeper understanding.

Now, after about 5 years of wrangling with her dementia (and thinking that I had come to terms with New Mom), my Heart energy is sounding the alarm: I remain in grief over the loss of Old Mom. This is not a cut-and-dry end, however: I still talk to the woman—a Woman—every day. She remains in her house, has a daily routine, forms strong opinions, enjoys conversation, makes observations, and is in overall sound health. So where did Old Mom go?

When my sister and I discuss this issue, we typically land on: Deal with the Woman in front of us; honor the essence of the Mom we knew; and allow the sadness we feel.

Such has been our mantra, increasing in volume, over the course of the past several years. So why now am I experiencing a resurgence of grief?

It can be no coincidence that I recently heard an actor (Andrew Garfield) describe his grief over the passing of his mother. In speaking of it, he made the unusual pronouncement that he valued the feeling of grief: He regards it as “unexpressed love.” 

And for me, that is the key to the unexpected depth of my sadness. Psychologically, it makes sense that I would grieve the “loss” of my mom, the one who raised me, the one to whom I was so close, and the one from whom I healthily distanced. But that grief is ongoing, as she has yet to pass from this earth. Thus, each day is a reminder of the disappearance, and each day is a reminder that the Woman to whom I express my love does not necessarily know who I am.

So, if grief is “unexpressed love,” I am in a state of constant grief: Whatever love I express falls on ears that acknowledge the sweetness of my words or tone, but can not fathom its depth. This is a state of “incomplete grief.”

How to make whole a thing that most people avoid? How to “complete” grief when the source of it is actually present? How to lighten the load of a heavy heart when the weight must be born each and every day?

This is the type of spiritual pain and effort that, ironically, fuels me. When I am able to identify the challenge, the load already is lessened. To that end, I suggest the following meditation to honor and bolster your Heart, however it may be feeling.

The power of Prayer Mudra (Anjali Mudra) can not be overstated, nor can the value of your breath and focus. To that end, find a version of Prayer Mudra that resonates with your current Heart energy: traditional palms together at Heart Center; backs of hands together (Reverse Prayer); fingers pointed up or down; mudra at Heart or Head or elsewhere. Allow this to be a choice guided by intuition: When we can surrender to a suggestion from the Universe, Truth responds to that reverence. As the Heart detects that devotion, its vibration strengthens.

Then, with eyes closed, gaze up to the Third Eye. This focus ushers in a vibration of Truth. Use your deep, steady inhale through the nose to guide the pulse of this energy deep within; exhale to send it back out for more. Inhale through the Third Eye; exhale into the Mudra, whatever variation you chose and wherever it lies. Then, take a breath in through the mudra, and exhale out through the Third Eye and beyond. In this way, you begin a cycle of renewal and understanding with the Universe and its eternal Truth. Immerse yourself in the process for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…