What does “Conscious Grieving” mean?
It means that we walk mindfully into the process, as fearlessly as possible, with our hearts wide open. Our tendency when facing pain of any kind is to instinctively pull away from it, and for most of us, our primary intention is to make the pain STOP. But like any life-giving process, such as childbirth or healing from knee surgery, there are no shortcuts… the process must be experienced fully. In Conscious Grieving, we are invited to view our suffering not as a random, meaningless event, but as an invitation to explore our life’s purpose.
Does it help to have readings with mediums?
A reading with a trained, proven medium is worth its weight in gold. It offers hope and understanding that our departed loved ones still exist somewhere in the universe, and that it is possible for them to communicate with us. Readings can provide a lot of healing, because an evidential reading can often address issues such as guilt, blame and forgiveness.
However, some people become dependent on mediums in a desperate effort to find quick relief from their pain, and when that happens, healing can actually be thwarted. Most reputable mediums recognize this, and will not read the same person more than once or twice a year. If you encounter a medium that allows you to get a reading once a month, that medium is more concerned with building his or her business than with helping you heal. The best mediums will recognize when there are issues that can only be addressed through deeper work, and will refer you to resources that can help you find peace, such as spiritual counseling, shamanic healing, or workshops like this one. Some mediums are trained in grief counseling or other healing arts, but most are not. Relying on mediums to heal you is like eating a sugary dessert and skipping the nutritious meal that's supposed to go with it.
While readings with mediums can be extraordinarily helpful, they are not designed to shepherd you through the grief process. I have the honor of being very good friends with some of the best mediums in the business, and they would all agree that without doing the internal work required to accept and assimilate the loss into your life, even the best readings have the potential to be merely a band aid if not used correctly.
What can be transformed within us as the result of the workshop?
I think this question is best answered by quoting the following four points from my favorite Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron.* Her points are in bold, followed by my interpretation** of them:
1. We use our painful situations to wake us rather than put us to sleep.
This means that we can choose to become angry and bitter, to shut people out, to feel victimized and to live a disconnected life ruled by fear. That would be sleep. Or we could learn how to notice all the miraculous events that occur around the edges of any painful experience, and realize that these events are roadmaps leading us to new possibilities. Taking it one step further, it is, in fact, our own intention, our own higher selves or souls or God whatever you choose to call it, that brought forth the painful situation and created its gifts in the first place.
2. We invite in what we would usually try to avoid
When intense pain happens, we instinctively recoil from it, saying, 'please make this go away, I'm not ready for this, I don't want this." What if instead of resisting, we could say instead, "OK, I will receive this. What's in this that I need to know? Let it come, I will accept, and I will follow this path with curiosity and gratitude. "
3. We realize that only to the extent to which we expose ourselves to annihilation, can that which is indestructible be found in us.
The more vulnerable we are, the more we are willing to risk, the more information and guidance we will receive and the faster change and expansion will come. .
4. We learn that bad news, pain, fear, loss and tragedy are actually very clear moments that teach us to lean in and feel rather than to back away from feeling and experiencing. And in that sense, tragedy can be seen as good news, not bad.
Lean in! What a beautiful expression! Leaning in to pain rather than pulling away looks like this… You're diagnosed with cancer, your teenage son is a drug addict, you've lost your job, and your house is going into foreclosure. You've done everything you can to remedy these situations, but there is no quick fix on the horizon. Do you kick and scream and resist and fight and rage and vent and blame? Sure you do! For a few days. And then you wake up and walk boldly, openly toward the pain, with faith that there is a reason for the shift that is occuring.
*Chodron, Pema. When Things Fall Apart. Boston, MA: Shambala, 2000.
**Excerpted from Turning the Corner on Grief Street © 2014, by Terri Daniel