Mindfulness: Consider The Steps You Can Take to Travel Through Grief, Rather Than Around It, into Becoming a Healthier Version of Yourself.

Mindfulness-based therapies By Nikki Swoope, NYU Student, Intern with CCC

Loss can impact people at the most inconvenient times, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a job, or a dissolved friendship. Grief is arguably one of the strongest human emotions and many people attempt to get through these difficult periods as quickly as possible.

The main goal individuals search for in therapy is to be happy, though this is easier said than done. If you can’t skip through the grief, what is the next step?

Recently, the Eastern practice of mindfulness has been implemented across the United States as a new method of coping with grief. It’s the practice of in-the-moment conscious awareness of one’s surroundings, thoughts, and mental or physical states. Mindfulness is non-judgmental, emphasizing openness and acceptance to whatever may be occurring within or outside of a person’s mind. It may be typical for the average person to “run on autopilot” as Hofmann and Gomez (2017) describe, without bringing much awareness to the present moment and how they’re feeling.

Learning to be more mindful is a skill that takes time, but ultimately contributes to a more positive life experience. Mindfulness-based interventions have proven their effectiveness several times in increasing resiliency to burn-out (Pidgeon & Keye, 2014), chronic pain reduction (Creswell, 2017), and reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, addiction cravings, as well as an association with many other positive health outcomes. Bringing conscious awareness to your body can help you understand emotional states, limiting events of lashing out by helping with emotional regulation skills.

Practicing mindfulness is a process that is completely individualized and depends on the needs of the participants. Meditation is a frequent practice of mindfulness-based interventions, taking practice and time but ultimately leading to symptom reduction as Creswell (2017) discusses in his work. However, some individuals may prefer to interact in self-reflective journaling or yoga, preferring to either have their progress written or physically trackable.

Though brief mindfulness training is effective with in-the-moment reactivity, long-term mindfulness-based interventions have shown to have larger overall effects post-training. (Hofmann & Gomez, 2017) Participating in a tailored mindfulness intervention such as a short, daily meditation is helpful when attempting to integrate the positive effects of mindfulness, such as emotional regulation skill-building, into daily life.

Consider the steps you can take to instead travel through the grief, rather than around it, into becoming a healthier version of yourself.