When life does not treat you well, treat yourself well.
I am going through a massive heartbreak. If you have ever been through one (and very likely you have, given you are human) you can imagine what that feels like. It sucks.
Pain, anger, sadness, shock, pissed-off-ness, rage, grief – raw emotions hammering wildly at your heart. Only the faith remaining that God has a plan and by default that plan has to be a good one, even if you can’t see it right now.
Heartbreak can have so many causes, in my case it is a relationship breakup. It could also be the death of a pet, a parent, a child, the loss of a secure job, a disease or the realization of getting older and loosing one’s youth.
While loss of any kind causes grief in various degrees, it also is an opportunity to let go, heal and open to something new and different. The level of grief depends on the level of attachment to the very thing we have lost and our ability of accept and surrender. Detachment, acceptance and surrender can be practiced yet we still will have to go through the grieving process. It doesn’t matter what the cause of grief might be, the process of digesting wild, raw emotions is the same.
A common response to grief (or any other negative emotion for that matter) is to rationalize it, ignore it or push it away into the hidden corners of our consciousness. That way, we don’t have to feel the pain and can move forward with life without having to face anything. Avoidance is easy to do in our action driven society. You may choose to bury yourself in work, become a slave to your to do list, or cover your pain with a new relationship. All great distractions from what is really going on inside.
The bad news is, that this sort of approach is a short term strategy. Whenever we hide from emotions they get stored in the tissues of the body and cause imbalance. Emotions are likely to then show up later in the form of physical or mental disease.
Negative emotions flow within the blood (Rasa Dhatu in Ayurveda). Blood circulates throughout the body and thus has the ability to reach the far and near corners of our physical being. The blood is our transport system and it carries those negative emotions to all cells causing biochemical changes for the worse. The emotions will seek out weak spots and stagnate there. If your weak spot is the large intestine, it may show up as constipation. If it s the lungs, maybe as congestion. If it is the kidneys, maybe as frequent urination.
Stuck emotions cause stagnation which is lifeless, prana-less, a dead zone. Life cannot live where there is stagnation. At first, those emotions may simply be hanging out and hiding without you noticing unless you tune in consciously. But over time they will accumulate and cause havoc….and that you will notice, conscious or not. The message will be loud and clear in the form of more severe issues like cancer, endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia or immune system deficiencies, to name just a few.
“Suppression of grief and sadness affects the pituitary and thyroid glands, leading to hypothyroidism and irregular thyroid function.” Dr. Vasant Lad 1
To heal heartbreak thoroughly we have to approach the healing process via all five layers of our existence, the spiritual body, the intellectual body, the emotional body, breath body and physical body.
Most people jo-jo back and forth between two bodies: understanding (=intellectual body) and emotional upset (=emotional body). When we are in understanding we feel good, while with emotional upset we feel bad. Mostly time heals the wounds by growing moss over the pain. The pain isn’t gone it is just grown over, out of sight. To heal completely and come out more strong, clean and clear the other side we have to do a more conscious and thorough cleaning job, kind of like a German housewife. No dust particle left behind. In order to do that, we have to include the physical body, the pranic body and spiritual body as well.
The good news is, that there are ample techniques to do that. The techniques are simple but they require two things: First, you need courage to face your heartbreak. Going through a conscious healing process is necessary but not necessarily pleasant. Actually, there is an extremely big likelihood it is not pleasant at all. There is lots of pain involved. The good news is, however, that your life after it will be more alive, more clear and more amazing, than you ever dreamed it to be. Going into the pain is worth it in the end.
Second, you need healthy habits. In order to heal you need to establish a healthy routine and have ample tools in your tool belt to work with your upset skillfully. Over the years I have gathered tons of techniques from Yoga, Ayurveda, Thai Massage, non violent communication and many other related fields. I can’t imagine living my life without the understanding and skills I have gathered. I am not saying this to brag (although we all could use a dose of healthy self confidence). I am just saying….be prepared, have lots of life skills and tools, and life will be more easeful.
Here are 9 wise techniques that I have been using to heal heartbreak & grief:
- Eat light: This will give your body a digestive break and free up more energy to digest raw emotions. You will need it, trust me. Eat lots of veggies and mostly cooked, avoid complex food combinations. One pot meals are great. Try Kitchari.
- Get bodywork: The body stores unresolved emotions in your tissues and if not attended to your body will turn into a storehouse of negativity. That’s lousy!!! Massage, when done skillfully, clears your body of past trauma and unresolved emotions so the next you can emerge.
- Sit & feel: this is very much like meditation without the pressure of the word. Sit upright, with the shoulders rolled back and your heart open. Quietly sit and be present. Where in your body do you feel the emotion? Name it. Where does your body contract? Name it. Then take your breath to those places and release the tension with your mind.
- Do Abhyanga = Ayurvedic self massage with oil. Touch is calming. Oils too. Luxuriously cover yourself with the heaviness of the oils. Do it with love. Massage gets the circulation and prana flowing and thus moves intense emotions out of your system. It brings peace.
- Water up: Emotions relate to the fire, the mind to the air element. Both are pacified and brought into balance by water. Think river, lake, ocean and thermal baths. Surround yourself with that and let the water wash away pain, anxiety and grief.
- Move, do Yoga: grief contracts the subtle channels and with it the physical body. Moving your limbs and torso in all directions dissolves contractions both physically and subtly. Best to move slowly and consciously and make sure all parts of your body are moved, felt, seen and heard.
- Breathe: When emotions take over, the breath gets shallow and fast. Take a deep breath even if the first breath is hard to take. It gets easier with every breath. Breathe deep into your belly, very deep, to ground yourself. Also, breathe into the places that want to contract and use your breath to bring life and expansion.
- Let emotions flow: Tears are the body’s mechanism to clear intense emotions; they are liquefied crystals of emotions. Cry, or if that’s not enough, scream, pound, take a martial arts class, let it out constructively and safely. This will make you feel more calm and prevent you from lashing out and blaming other people (partner, friends, family).
- Get support: Call upon people you trust emotionally and you know will assist you in the healing process. That can be a friend, coach, body-worker, healer or any person with a deep level of compassion and empathy. Reach out, don’t freak out.
To give you a totally practical example and line up, here is what I have done over the last couple of weeks to heal myself using my body. My intention was to clear out the first big junk of sadness, grief and disappointment:
- I checked in with my body. In particular I noticed the pattern of my breath and the quality of my energy body. I noticed the back of my heart wanting to close and cause long term bitterness. I made a decision that this was not going to happen and used my breath to keep the area open. Breath and prana is the substance that flows through the nadis (= subtle energy channels). Conscious breathing is like flossing the channels and helping them to expand and relax again. Whenever i start to freak out I use various breathing techniques to calm my nervous system. It helps a ton and I will keep using it until I am through the process.
- I organized a wellness day with my girlfriends at the local bathhouse with healing thermal waters, sauna and alcohol free cocktails.
- I scheduled a massage the next morning. There is a lot of healing we can do ourselves but there is something to be said about getting support when things get tough. I asked the therapist to clear my heart chakra and work on my belly. The organs store all those unprocessed emotions. That’s why we often feel squeezy in the stomach when something emotionally big is happening.
- That same evening, I happened to have tickets for a cabaret. What a marvellous ‘coincidence’. Laughing is great medicine. I am glad I got to do that.
After this line up, I already felt more light and energetically clear again. The first level of sadness, anger, resentment and shock was dealt with. To top things off, I went on a vacation with my family to a wellness destination. This happened to be scheduled anyway.
Soaking in thermal paths all week and sweating out the pain in the sauna was the greatest gift ever. Did I feel pain while focusing on healing my heart? Yes loads and I still will for a while. But I know that “The only way out of pain is the way through”. We can try to walk around it, jump over it, dig under it, or turn away from it. But it won’t work. I tried that when I was younger and less wise. Now I know that if I try to avoid it, the wall of pain remains and causes suffering for longer and it will accumulate and hit even stronger later. Walking into the pain and dealing with it may feel extremely painful at first but stepping into it courageously and paying attention, the pain will be cleared that much faster and more thoroughly. And there will be less long term suffering.
I will continue with the healthy habits protocol for quite some time until no morsel of sadness and pain is left. This way I will bring back peace, joy and contentment into my body and life.
Do you want to heal a heartbreak?
Want to feel peace, joy and contentment again too?
- Dr. Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 1, pg 97