Mon, Jul

Moving Through Grief


WELLNESS - We are all born, and we all die, transition, or better yet, “transform.”  I think the most disturbing part of grief is the thought that someone we love is GONE. For children who lose a parent, a parent who loses a child, a partner who loses a partner, a friend who loses a friend, and also losing a pet, the reality is YES, our sweet dear loved one is “gone” on a daily basis from our lives, and we will no longer have the cherished opportunity to spend earthly time together any longer. This “loss” is not easily processed and takes time.

Keep in mind though, that Energy (Chi), doesn’t die, but merely transforms, so what may be “gone to our eyes” is actually transforming into new forms of energy.

Like water boiling and evaporating, disappearing into vapor, and like clouds forming one beautiful formation after another, then dissipating into an invisible state to us, Life as we know it also moves and changes forms, constantly. The evaporated water is still there, even though we can’t SEE it, the vapor that formed the clouds is still there, but we cant see it. The Energy of our LOVED ONES is still around but we just can’t see IT/THEM. 

It is as the Lakota and Sioux Native American Tribes referenced as The Great Spirit and The Great Mystery (Wakan Tanka), and as the Taoists termed The Way (Tao=The Way of Life)---the unexplainable but beautiful Law of the Universe that just “IS.”

In 1988 at age 26, I “lost” my sister Linda and my father within months of each other.  We had gone from a happy, typically dysfunctional American family of 5, down to 3---Mom, sister Kathy, and me.  I cannot remember a more shocking and devastating time.  

Shock is most certainly part of any grief---it is shocking to lose someone you love, especially if it is a sudden loss.  From an energetic standpoint, the person feeling the loss experiences an extreme energy blockage, an inward gasp, often a stalled frozen moment that sometimes, left unattended, or unrecognized, doesn’t unclench for years. At the time of both family deaths, I lived in the quite solid, concrete, 1929 historic Villa Bonita building in Hollywood. I remember answering the same phone and punching the same (hard) concrete wall with each devastating phone call. The second time as I punched, I thought “don’t do this again Scott,” but I did it anyway….. 

My energy became stuck, especially in my right arm, shoulder, and neck, while anger, sadness, and grief became emotionally and physically stuffed down into my body—sad moments stalled in my mind, shrouding my heart with an impenetrable cloak. This “holding in” and fear of the emotional release, was the unhealthy part, and was part of my experience.  

Having just moved to Los Angeles, on the wave of my hilariously fun aerobic career, I was traveling the world teaching at fitness conferences, carrying Jane Fonda onstage, modeling for Men’s Fitness magazine, and working out like a fiend---avoiding my feelings, and pretending all was well inside of me. It wasn’t.   

In 1995, seven years later, I entered a Tai Chi class with Master Tim O’Connor in Los Angeles.  As he taught the movements so slowly and beautifully, I was mesmerized by the elegance of the mysterious martial art.  As I stood grounded into my leg base, breathing slowly and fully, moving my body (and connecting internally) in a way that truly felt like a life-altering moving meditation, something amazing began to happen. My body began to “unclench,” my emotions started to flow, and my grief FINALLY began to emerge.

It was so intense for me that I had to leave class to go sob in the parking lot, something that was definitely long overdue. I began to understand that we can attempt to HOLD our Chi (unsuccessfully and to our internal detriment) or decide to MOVE our Chi in healthy ways, to unclench, and LET GO of Energy that is stuck and no longer serves us. Tai Chi, Qigong, and Movement Therapy continue to be healing for me, and for those I teach, creating a safe, loving place where emotions and energy are free to flow in a marvelous breath-filled continuum, coupled with the love of community and human touch.

I waited a month to go back to Master Tim and arrived late (on purpose) to just stand in the back. He turned around, looked at me, smiled, and nodded, like he KNEW I’d be back. Well, my first emotive experience with Tai Chi turned into a dedication to bring Tai Chi more into the Western world, so I continued my study, and began to implement Tai Chi principles into all of my classes and workshops around the world. 

In early 2001, I was offered to create and star in the Discover Tai Chi video series, which we filmed in November of 2001, on the sad, grief-stricken heels of 9-11. I remember that we were all still in shock and grief, as was all of America and the World. The date to film had been booked long before the horrors of September 11th occurred, and we chose to continue, to create something beautiful, which was, and still is, so needed. Of interesting historical significance: books, videos, and even some movies were delayed in release because America was suffering so much, and in too much grief…..so it was a year before the first copies of Discover Tai Chi went out to the public.     

Honoring our own feelings is so important, giving ourselves permission to emote, not just about grief, but about everything. Some of the best things we can do for others who are grieving is to make eye contact, listen compassionately, hold their hand, hug them, and encourage them to express their feelings. Never underestimate human interaction, a nice phone call (or message), and the Power of Touch. 

For the one grieving, it is vital to verbalize (when ready), to speak of the missing loved one, and to keep the grieving process moving…..It doesn’t happen overnight, and is an ongoing process. Allow everything to bubble up, don’t be afraid to emote, and definitely get out in Nature, where perspective can really help the healing journey.

I often explain Chi (Energy) like this: Stuck Energy is like a stagnant, smelly pool of water, not moving, not flowing, and very unpleasant for the Body, Mind, and Spirit. Once open to the grieving process, we can energetically emulate a free-flowing, fluid, non-stagnant, running stream of crystal-clear water, or envision clouds floating effortlessly through the sky, or be like trees blowing gently in the breeze, and thus, connect with Nature and Divine Energy to emote and begin to essentially MOVE through grief. 

Moving your Energy certainly won’t bring your loved one back, but it will clear the Cosmic pipes within you, and profoundly affect how you process and learn to accept the new reality---hopefully bringing you to a place of peace, knowing that your loved one is not “gone” but has left the body and merely transformed, as intended---as we all will when it is our time. And all of the above applies to processing losing our sweet pets too.

The following exercises are marvelous for helping “move your Chi,” so you can release pent up grief, anxiety, anger, tension, and stress—-moving into a clearer, happier space. Enjoy, they are quite beautiful, and so are YOU.  If emotions come up, let them flow ☺

The Happy Bird: The Chinese believed that opening your arms like a bird’s wingspan was good for the heart.  It is!!!  When we are grieving the shoulders slump forward in the posture of pain, and when we are happy our posture is upright and our hearts are open and alive, so breathe deeply, open your arms like a glorious flying bird, empower your heart, and release your sadness ☺

Loving Breath: Sitting quietly with your right hand resting gently on your heart, and your left hand resting on the Dan Tien (“tan-tee-en”), your Tai Chi “Energy Center” in your core just below your navel, breathe slowly and fully, feeling your own loving energy through the very vital palms of your hands (Lao Gong points).  Close your eyes, breathing deeply into your belly, each inhale an invitation for healing, each exhale a letting go of anxiety. Visualize the color “green,” the healing color of Yoga’s Heart Chakra.  

Earth and Sky: This is a gorgeous Qigong (“chee-gong”) move, an ancient Chinese healing exercise that brings energy up through your feet, spiraling through your body and out through your hands.  Bare feet planted, shoulder distance apart in Horse Stance, knees slightly bent, inhale as you slowly bring Earth energy up through your feet legs, hips, and torso, palms turning up towards the sky as you exhale outward through the arm circle back down to starting point again.  This is a continuous movement, fully connected to the breath, inhaling energy up, exhaling energy out, open to receiving healing energy from the Earth and giving healing Energy back through your empowered grateful hands ☺ 

Find the short free video of the above MOVING THROUGH GRIEF Movements on Instagram @scott_cole_wellness 

(Scott Cole is a writer, speaker, and wellness lecturer in over 30 countries. A former National Aerobic Champion and star of the iconic Abs of Steel videos, Scott created and stars in the over 1-million selling Discover Tai Chi series. You may have seen Scott throughout the years on The Doctors, LIVE with Regis and Kelly, The View, The Early Show, CNN Headline News, HGTV, The Food Network, and more. Featured on the cover of The Wall Street Journal for his “unique blending of the martial and healing arts,” Scott has also contributed to GQ, SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, Family Circle, USA Today, The LA Times, Newsday, WebMD, AARP, and more. He recently completed 5 years in Clinical Pain Management to help people MOVE THROUGH and out of pain, stress, and grief.)

He is available for lectures, classes, clinical work, and online trainings. Sign up on his homepage of ScottCole.com to be part of his worldwide healthy happy family!!! 

Join Scott December 7-13th, 2024 for his CHI week, at the famed Rancho La Puerta in Tecate Mexico