Healing your heart after a loss is not an easy task.
However, practicing Ayurveda can help alleviate the emotional — and even physical — pain and promote the digestion of emotions and traumatic experiences.
These are simple ways for overcoming grief with Ayurveda, a holistic way to treat sadness and feel happy again.
We all have to deal with grief at some point in our lives. Whether it is caused by a breakup, loss of health, death, a serious illness, financial issues, or even loss of youth, knowing how sad emotions affect our whole being and learning a few Ayurveda techniques to help our heart feel lighter is a must to navigate the journey of life successfully.
Grieving is highly individual, which means there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
There is also no normal timetable for feeling better.
Grieving is a gradual process unique to each person that requires patience and lots of self-love.
The Stages of Emotional Pain
There are five generalized stages of grief.
Denial: Especially when the situation is so life-changing like a sudden divorce, the loss of a job, or the death of someone we love, our first survival instinct is to deny it.
Anger: A natural response that looks for someone to blame.
Bargaining: When bargaining is still possible, we might do all we can to stop the loss. Begging a partner to stay, for example.
Depression: An emotion that kills your desire to live fully.
Acceptance: When the grieving process is complete, we are left with a peaceful feeling of acceptance. We are then ready to genuinely move on.
Grief is very much an emotional and mental state, however, the body gets affected by sadness too. Some physical symptoms include fatigue, nausea, poor immunity, weight loss or weight gain (depending on your body type), aches and pains, insomnia, exhaustion, poor digestion, and elimination issues like loose stools or constipation.
The emotional spectrum of grief is also deep and vast. Some of the side emotions you might feel, besides sadness are disbelief, guilt, anger, fear of an uncertain future, anxiety, and hopelessness. Just to name a few.
The Ayurvedic Perspective on a Sad Heart
Ayurveda places great importance at digestion, not only of the foods we eat, but the emotions we feel and the experiences we have. Sorrow is an emotion that is often not digested for a long time, causing further pain and trouble.
According to Ayurveda, grief mainly affects Vata, the dosha that governs the nervous systems and the mind. When imbalanced, Vata can cause rapid changes in mood, agitation, restlessness, spaciness, rigidness, and feelings of loneliness and separation.
The 3 Gunas or qualities of the mind are affected too. Tamas or Rajas can get intensified at times of grief. That is, depending on your body type, you could tend to get lethargic and depressed or angry and agitated.
Ojas, the nectar of life, gets depleted when we go through and intense period of sorrow. This means we age faster and look less vital and radiant.
Grief also impacts the digestive fire, which is the agent in charge of assimilation and absorption of foods, thoughts, emotions, etc.
Unresolved grief can promote Ama or undigested toxins. This poison is a fertile ground for diseases.
The most vulnerable organs when we feel grief are the lungs and the cardiovascular system — particularly the heart.
The chakra that is most affected is the throat chakra (pituitary and thyroid glands)
Tips to Heal the Heart
Ayurveda offers comprehensive and practical knowledge and strategies on how to heal your heart after a loss.
Soothing, Digesting, and Transforming the pain are some of the ways overcoming grief with Ayurveda is possible.
Soothing the pain
- If you don’t have it already, establish a time, early in the morning, for meditating or praying. Healing requires a spiritual component, to open our arms to the divine cosmic energy and have faith. To heal our heart, we must first heal our soul.
- Overcoming grief with Ayurveda requires to have a structured morning routine. This is key to pacify Vata dosha and reduce the sense of restlessness and anxiety.
- Sadness affects your lungs. That’s why practicing Pranayama or breathing exercises is so helpful to release that heavy energy from them.
- Journal your grief. It is a wonderful way to release your emotions and to progress monitor how you are feeling throughout the weeks or months.
- Ayurveda uses colotheraphy and gem therapy. Use colors that pacify Vata like pastels or yellows. Use stones like rose quartz or amazonite to soothe your emotions. Also incorporate oils that are warm and stimulating like cinnamon, musk, or sandalwood.
- Feelings of isolation are normal when grieving, hence, look for supporting friends or groups to share and connect.
- If you feel the need to cry, cry. Never suppress this natural urge.
Digesting the pain
- Grieving weakens digestion. Therefore, have nourishing anti-Vata foods with warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, fennel, coriander, and cumin.
- Have warm, hopefully freshly cooked meals. No frozen or canned foods.
- Avoid coffee, as it aggravates the Vata and Pitta doshas.
- Drink ginger tea.
- Have a nourishing, spiced golden milk before going to bed to sooth your heart.
- Choose the sweet, sour, and salty tastes.
- Drink enough water.
- Go to bed early to avoid insomnia. Deep sleep can further help digest the emotional pain.
Transforming the pain
- Sorrow can be a wake-up call or an opportunity for a new beginning. Keep a positive attitude and expect beautiful things in the future. This too shall pass!
- Slow down. Be present and take more time for everything you need to do.
- Read inspirational books and watch comedies.
- Keep journaling!
- Increase sattva by being truthful, saying sweet things, and having self-control.
- Practice restorative yoga (yin yoga)
- Incorporate herbs that replenish your Ojas. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner to get the most suitable herbs for you.
- Practice self-love massage or abhyanga with sesame or almond oil.
Time often takes care of the grief. However, when implementing a few Ayurvedic principles into our life and understanding that life is in itself impermanent, pain can dissipate much faster and less traumatically. Overcoming grief with Ayurveda is a transformational, yet gradual way to connect you to the divine and universal consciousness, resolve messy feelings, and heal your heart.