Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


A Quick Note on Grief and This Moment

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

In a recent comment, one of Mindfulness Matter’s readers shared her questions in the wake of the loss of a loved one. She wondered whether mindfulness was really as simple as it is sometimes portrayed. She also wondered how to handle the grief in a mindful way.

What I typically say, and did in a recent post, is that mindfulness IS simple, yet not necessarily easy. That’s an important distinction. In fact, it may be quite hard to be mindful, but what mindfulness is or is not is not complicated.

What is this moment? The psychological present is about three seconds long and that could be considered “this moment.” Anything that is happening within those three seconds is part of the landscape of now. Of course, this now occurs in the context of some activity — what is happening now? Driving, walking, daydreaming, meditating, are all activities that can happen now; working, talking, playing, too, whatever is going on. The activity sets the vicinity of this moment.

As I just mentioned, whatever is happening now is part of now. Mindfulness is not about excluding some experiences to privilege others. So, of course, the experience of grief would be included in this moment. The question of mindfulness revolves around the question of awareness. If you are aware that you are thinking of your loved one, then you are being mindful of a memory, image, feeling related to your loved one. If you are swept away by that memory, image, and feelings and lose touch with your sense of awareness then you are not being mindful in that particular instant. When you recognize where your attention is at then you’ve once again come to mindfulness.

Here you have a choice about where you are attention goes. Mindfulness is not about orchestrating what is happening now, rather, it is opening to what is occurring now — approaching it with interest, even if it might be uncomfortable, scary, or painful. This moment can be dull, poignant, or exciting. The practice of mindfulness does not seek to push anything away or pull anything towards. It is about allowing these experiences to come into our field of awareness and to touch them, get close to them, as much as we can. So, the invitation is to be open to whatever unfolds in the grief space of loss.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ellie

    Okay..I think I get it. But this observation of the moment seems rather passive. How do I make a decision to go downtown and listen to some jazz and have a martini rather than staying home and watching Star Trek reruns? If I’m always “flowing” with this moment, how in the world do I effect change and impact my immediate world? I can’t always sit and meditate on the “now.” Don’t I have to make my own “now”?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Colleen

    The NOW is happening whether we “make” it, accept it, let it flow through us, or resist it. The choice is how are we going to use the “NOW”. Personally, I like recognizing EXACTLY what is happening in the moment, as challenging as it may be at times.

    Regarding Grief: It’s important to allow all the feelings of grief, which include the gamet of emotions. Often people say…”I should not be joyful when I’m grieving”. Why not? Or…”I shouldn’t still be feeling sad…grieving is over now”. The loss of someone we love is never really “over”. It changes, as we move through the challenge. To feel joyful one moment and very sad the next moment is ok. Follow your heart.

Previous Posts

Time to Wake Up: Reading Your Way to Awakening
We have been asleep, collectively and individually and there is a growing call to wake up. The Buddha was the first to suggest this change in consciousness 2500 years ago (and as you know the term buddha means one who has awakened). And now there are three books that have come to my attention with w

posted 11:05:45am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Citizen of the Cosmos
I recently heard Ann Druyan interviewed on Radio Lab. She spoke of falling in love with Carl Sagan when they were working together on the Voyager mission in the late 70s, where she was in charge of developing the content that would be sent out into space for alien cultures to discover. It was a touc

posted 9:59:05am Oct. 14, 2014 | read full post »

The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery
Polly Young-Eisendrath has a new book out, her fourteenth. This is a book like no other that I've ever read. It is a memoir and it recounts events that I lived through as dharma friends of Polly and the love of her life, Ed Epstein. The Present Heart is a statement on the nature of love. It defin

posted 8:41:37am Oct. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Mindfulness and Climate Action
One Earth Sangha presents Mindfulness and Climate Action, a series of online conversations. These are free and start today and will continue through October into November. I am especially excited that Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield will be presenting today. I hope you can catch it. You can regi

posted 8:31:51am Oct. 05, 2014 | read full post »

A Chilling View Inside the Quiet Room: Electric Shocks Preferred to Sitting Still
A study recently published in Science provides a window into the restless soul of Americans and a compelling case of why we need mindfulness. University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues conducted a series of experiments where subjects spent time alone in an unadorned room. We

posted 8:53:12am Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.