In honour of my grandma’s passing 1 year ago today, I’d like to briefly share what I experienced on the day she died, how Yoga & Blissology relates and how ‘grief’ can be a gift.
I was at Eoin Finn’s Yoga Teacher Training in Tofino, BC with an amazingly consciously aware group of 28 yogis. We had several days of deep intellectual discussions about defining labels such as ‘love’, ‘God’, ‘truth’, ‘soul’, ‘energy’, ‘source’ and ‘gratitude’. We all dug deep and revealed our own dharma statements (life purpose and mission). For those that are familiar with Eoin’s work, you know that he has an amazing gift and skill of being able to combine these deep philosophical conversations together with education about biomechanical alignment principles and safety in asana practise…and also with humour & love.
Eoin defines the term, Blissology as ‘the art of living a full life by awakening a deep infinite source of joy, love & bliss inside of us and using it to build harmonious relationships with our body-mind, our personal relationships, with our communities and with nature’. Basically, the more we can find and connect to that ‘space’ inside of us that is the stillness, the light, the truth, the force (or whatever we want to label it as) the more we can be aware and connected with our own true selves and bodies, resulting in a deeper connection with others, with our community and ultimately with nature and the planet. This opens us up to a kindness and a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. As a result, we end up discovering that we treat ourselves, others, and nature with much more love and respect than we ever could have imagined. As Eoin states: ‘the line between where we end and nature begins becomes blurred’.
So it was 9 days into the intensive training, and with this “Blissology” social movement in mind, the Tuesday morning topic was ‘how does grief fit into Blissology?’
Ironically, that same morning, my grandma died.
It was that morning when I was exposed to a new gift that yoga had to offer; other than the many gifts I had previously shared in “My Yoga Journey”. For me, on that day, yoga became a portal that led and allowed me to deeply and courageously be aware of and feel pain, loss, and also experience grieving in a raw and authentic way by first helping me to connect to that ‘space’ and ‘truth’ within me. That, in turn somehow allowed me to connect with others on that same level. It was this connection and awareness that seemed to bring me peace, joy, comfort and love at the exact same time as I was experiencing sadness, pain, loss and grief. It was something I had not experienced so intensely before. I had certainly felt something similar, but had never felt it quite like this. It was like I gave myself full permission to shamelessly and whole heartedly accept and feel the darkness: to be sad and to grieve, and to be okay with it, without resistance. In a sense, I suppose I was practising the niyama of santosha, full acceptance and contentment of the truth, with gratitude. Although I’ve experienced this to a lesser degree in the past, this time there was a difference, and I feel it was the connection to community and nature that tipped this experience towards a more ‘blissful’ one, even at a time of deep sadness.
There was a moment in Savasana (relaxation at the end of asana practise) when I felt extremely vulnerable and scared. In Savasana, we lie on our backs with our palms and chest open to the sky. I felt so sad and the thoughts of losing my grandma felt so painful that I could hardly breathe and I had feelings of fear, anxiety, and felt physically sick. I felt weak. But I somehow sensed a welcoming and supportive force from the group. For some reason I felt the need to roll onto my side and just curl up into the fetal position, let go, and just start crying. The person next to me, whom I had only known for 9 days, silently held and gently squeezed my hand and supported my head. I felt a deep sense of non-judgement, acceptance, connection and most importantly, love. I felt safe again. It felt good. It all came together. I felt like the moment was a profound “a-ha” moment: So this was what Eoin was talking about:
“the importance of grief”, Eoin says, “is that when we plug into grief, we plug into a network of human experience and realize what it means to be fully human – it connects us to a force that binds us all… LOVE.”
Later on, another soul from our group connected with me after our traditional round of blissology hugs and reminded me to be a ‘witness and observe’ all that I am experiencing throughout this time of sadness and to light a candle for my grandma and do a dance and celebrate. The group reached out and dedicated a special meditation and chant in support and love.
There were many more examples of support and reaching out as the day progressed before I returned back home to be with my family.
I believe that yoga helped me to be open to experiencing my emotions without censorship or shame, and therefore helped me to be completely present and ‘real’ with my family when I arrived home. I believe that this has a ripple effect, and in turn, has the power to radiate a sense of acceptance, support and love to others around me as well. I feel that the result is an even deeper level of interconnectedness with my family, friends and the surrounding community.
One of my most favourite feelings in the world was to hear my grandma’s voice brighten with joy, see her eyes light up & sense her heart burst with love, when I would simply call or visit. She took immense pleasure in the simplest things in life like flowers, birds and tea.
In honour of my beloved grandma, Lena Prosko, I’d like to share some of the gratitude intentions that I had the privilege of sharing at her memorial service:
“Grandma, thank you for your comforting words and advice when we were troubled and confused.
Thank you for consistently dedicating your prayers to your family, friends, and all those who suffered around the world.
Thank you for the way you taught us to love and support each other.
Thank you for showing us how to be accepting and non-judgemental of other people, no matter what.
Thank you for living such an amazing life of courage and immense strength because it is through your bravery that we (your family) all have the privilege of living such enriched and abundant lives.
Thank you for your generous heart and bright smile and shining eyes that you always shared to radiate and connect your spirit to us and the world.
Grandma, thanks for showing us what love really is.”
I miss you so much, Grandma.