10.31.13 Good Grief

Ingredients 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
I have a daily meditation practice. Me. She of the get-up-and-go mornings. I rise in the dark (hotly anticipating the end of daylight savings time) and sit on a yoga blanket on the chilly floor of my office, neck wrapped in a scarf to ward off evil drafts, legs folded like a pretzel, hands in my lap, eyes closed. And there I sit for the better part of an hour, trying to empty my mind of thoughts or at least to avoid following the relentless train of them that wants to threaten this early peace. It's not easy but occasionally, as I focus on the rise and fall of my breath, the past recedes entirely and so does the future. Then I am left with the moment, which is inevitably free of...everything.

And yet. More often than not, the second I close my eyes and begin, an enormous wave of grief rises from deep inside, as if from some bottomless well of sorrow. It is not attached to thought but more like an involuntary spasm. Tears stream down from my closed lids. I sit with it. Keep my breath steady and calm. Because that is what we are learning to do in this MBSR course. To abandon thought, to relinquish judgment, simply to observe. It passes but when I am done meditating my mind often returns to this grief that dwells within. Will it follow me forever? I picture it like a vine that has grown over the bronchi in my lungs, like the Virginia Creeper that twines around the trees upstate. They coexist, but sometimes it looks like a contest to survive.
Ginger 790 xxx
a cure-all
People I have loved have gotten sick. Several of them have died. It happens. Is this something we ever truly get over? I don't know the answer to that. I thought I had. I consider myself to be a happy person, albeit one that feels things deeply. But I do believe that we carry these emotions in our bodies and that in moments of great stillness they can surface. I love what Colette wrote about this...

It's so curious: one can resist tears and "behave" very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer...and everything collapses.
Lemongrass 790 xxx
grass roots
Time heals, but there is also a deeper letting go that takes place when we allow ourselves to slow down and simply be. When the mind and body are still, lulled by the rhythm of the breath and the gentle beating of the heart, a reassuring peace prevails.

And many steaming cups of this soothing and healing anti-inflammatory ginger tea are pretty helpful, too! xo

Ginger-Lemongrass Tea

makes about 10 cups (plus a second batch)
  • — 8 ounces fresh ginger
  • — 1 whole lemon
  • — 2 large stalks lemongrass
  • honey, to taste

Slice 6 ounces of the ginger into coins and drop them into a large heavy pot. Use a spoon to bruise them. Finely grate the remaining 2 ounces and add it, along with any juice, to the pot.

Remove the zest from the lemon in strips with a peeler. Add these and the juice of the lemon to the pot.

Peel the tough outer layers of the lemongrass and remove the dark green stalks. Trim off the root ends and bash the remaining stalks with a heavy spoon or mallet to release the oils. Add them along with 10 cups of water to the pot. Cover and simmer gently for an hour.

Strain, reserving solids to make another batch, if desired. Pour cups of hot tea and stir in honey to taste. Keep refrigerated for several days and enjoy hot or cold.

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So fitting after All Hallows Eve, I felt soothed just reading this. Cleaning the pranksters egg splattered on our door and facing a funeral this afternoon. Need that tea.
Kristin on November 1, 2013 at 7:45 am —
Ugh, poor you. Warm water, not hot, and a high-alkaline cleanser like Formula 409 does the trick. And the treat is the tea (not the funeral). xo
laura on November 1, 2013 at 7:50 am —
Thank you, Laura. Since my mother died in July, I've been struggling with many levels of sadness and have reactivated my meditation (though not daily) and your post is an inspiration for this time in my life. I shall make a cup of your tea! xoxo Ann
Ann on November 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm —
Sorry about your mother, Ann. Loss comes to us all, sooner or later, and we have to find our way through it, right?
laura on November 3, 2013 at 12:38 am —
I actually crave that kind of meditation. I am impressed by your studies. That's not easy at all.
Julia on November 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm —
A good teacher helps, and I like mine - Jon Aaron.
laura on November 3, 2013 at 12:39 am —
"Time heals, but there is also a deeper letting go that takes place when we allow ourselves to slow down and simply be. When the mind and body are still, lulled by the rhythm of the breath and the gentle beating of the heart, a reassuring peace prevails" This statement is so true, so very true. Thank you for reminding us that we need to remain grounded in order to process whatever comes our way in life, and thank you for this little-warm-hug tea recipe.
Margie on November 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm —