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In Sanskrit, Ahimsa means non-harming-  in thought, words or deeds of oneself or others. My awareness of Ahimsa began back in my first teacher training years ago. It is one of yamas (restraints) which makes up Pantanjali’s 8 limbs.  The other limbs that are more familiar would be the asanas (poses), breathing (pranayama) and meditation (dyana). It had never struck me until now, to think of it in terms of myself. I usually thought of it in terms of the non-harming or non-violence of others.

These days, my thoughts are all about the self-blame, guilt, anger, unhappiness and the awful body image. I have focused my being not on healing myself, or taking care of me, but on being angry with who I’ve become since Silas has died. I judge myself in thoughts of resentment. I can barely look at my stomach and the extra skin that just does not want to disappear. I blame myself for the choices that were made and for my body failing. When I find myself sitting at my computer, unable to get work done, I feel defeated. Not yet pregnant? well, of course that’s my fault, stress is wreaking havoc on my reproductive system.  Sometimes I even think that if I leave those thoughts behind, I’ll be leaving my little Silas behind too.

With all the work I’m doing on myself, the EMDR therapy, the yoga, the writing, hanging with friends, getting massages, I still manage to find time to beat myself up. It’s like double the work of just dealing with the grief and that is why I am so exhausted all the time.

Last week in yoga class, my teacher spoke about Ahimsa. It hit such a nerve with me, and I came to a very powerful realization on my mat. I will never fully heal unless I stop these violent and harmful thoughts about myself. I work on this in therapy, I talk about it with Chris and with friends who will listen. I know I am the only one with the power to stop this endless chatter going on in my brain. But it is hard. It is so damn hard to quit. It has become part of the routine of my life. I need to retrain my brain from working in this manner.

The thing is, it is not just about being sad that Silas died, that my baby, who I carried inside me for more then 9 months, is not here with us. The rippling effect of our baby’s death has caused me to suppress the parts of myself where I used to find joy. I hate that I can’t see friends babies, or pregnant friends or even talk about pregnancy or babies. This is something I LOVED. I can’t do it. I have had to tuck that away, which fills me with such enormous pain, I almost can’t handle it. Not only did I lose my baby, but I lost a hundred other things on top of it.  All that stuff has just piled up and piled up in my brain, and I can’t stop it from happening.

I am working on it though. I am letting go of resentments and working on being nice to myself. Just giving myself a break from all the thoughts that keep my jaw clenched and make my brain hurt everyday is really important. It’s hard though. But it’s what I have to do if I want to keep moving forward.

Devastated, anxious and excited. Those were the 3 words I used to describe how I was feeling while sitting in a circle surrounded by 16 strangers.  Andrea and I were taking a program called Savoring Life’s Lesson’s: Grief, Loss & Renewal at Kripalu which is a center for yoga & health up in the Berkshires.  Kripalu was where I fell in love with yoga almost 15 years ago. I have not been back since.  I received the Kripalu catalog in the mail this summer and looked through it at least a dozen times, thinking about whether I’d even be able to get there again in my near future. I figured that once I had the baby, that wouldn’t happen for a long time, but it was nice to dream.

So, when Silas died, I thought that I’d give myself a gift and find a weekend to help myself heal. It seemed obvious to me that  I’d be able to find the perfect program to do – if anything I’d just go there for their relax & renewal weekend. When I stumbled upon this program about grief, and read how we’d be using yoga, meditation, art,  journaling, breathing & discussion as tools to deal with our grief, I thought it had been put there just for me at just the perfect time. After the intensity of Thanksgiving, a 4 day retreat to do yoga and cry with strangers was just what I needed. I thought Andrea could use this weekend after all that she was dealing with between Silas and other family losses so I invited her to join me.

I was excited for this time away. I needed it, god knows I needed it. I also needed to be able to sit with others dealing with loss and learn how to be with my grief.  Our group was a melting pot of loss. There were people dealing with loss of adult children, loss of parents & significant others, divorce & the loss of relationships. We learned to identify and not compare. We are all going through a loss and in getting to know each person, I felt their losses deeply.

We met a few hours every morning and every afternoon. In between, we were able to take yoga classes, yoga dance, eat amazing meals, use the whirlpool & sauna, take outdoor hikes, enjoy evening concerts with amazing women drummers and just have time to be with ourselves.  Its a really special place. A lot of the yoga rock stars do programs there. Some were even there this weekend as well as a famous actress that I was psyched to recognize.

The first evening when we all arrived and we sat and told our stories, everyone was hard and sad and angry. By the second day, you could feel the room softening up as we opened up our hearts and souls to each other. We were able to breathe & relax together, we shared, felt & observed each other and ourselves.  Our leader Aruni was amazing.  She allowed us to feel every emotion that makes up the grieving process and we were able to draw and write about it.

Andrea and I also enjoyed our time together. She was part of a beautiful & horrible moment in our lives. I feel blessed to have her in my life and that we were able to share such an important weekend of healing together. I wished Chris would have wanted to join me there as well, but I do understand him not wanting to. I spend a lot of my time in the yoga community doing workshops, retreats & conferences- it is a familiar and safe place for me but so very foreign to him. I know he spent his weekend doing exactly what he wanted to do for himself.

As much as I needed to be there, I also missed being home with Chris & the kitties. I’m still needing the safe haven of my apt to comfort me. Sleeping with 7 others in a room, listening to snores, the flush of toilets and voices in the hallway definitely made me long for my comfy bed surrounded by those who love me best.

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Kindness