I recently participated in a telesummit in which I was asked to share ways that I have dealt with dark times. I decided to revisit my toughest loss, because it has reshaped the rest of my life. I’m grateful to have had this chance to look back and examine with new insights my deepest life sorrow and joy, all rolled up into one: the birth and death of my only child, Sarah Grace, 19 years ago.
My intention is to offer solace and inspiration during the grieving process by weaving in some teachings from Let Your Yoga Dance, yoga, and Positive Psychology: "Seven Healing Ways to Find Grace Within Grief". Having lived at Kripalu (at the time a yoga ashram, or spiritual residential community), for twelve years, I had acquired many tools to help me cope. In the last four years, I have discovered even more tools through Positive Psychology, which has reinforced what I had already been doing all these years. I think of these modalities as pathways to healing and deeper understanding.
I’d like to define Let Your Yoga Dance and Positive Psychology for any newcomers to these practices.
Let Your Yoga Dance is a moving celebration of spirit, where joy and fun meet the deep and the sacred. It’s a movement practice and a lifestyle, as well as a community of amazing people. I created the practice over time, during my time living in the Kripalu ashram. In my early years there, I enjoyed a movement practice called DansKinetics, but it didn’t take me deep enough into the foundations of yoga and dance. So in 1986, I started to study the chakras, the energy centers of the body, and incorporated my discoveries into my own blend of moving yoga, which evolved over time into Let Your Yoga Dance, also known as Grace in Motion.
The Mission of Let Your Yoga Dance is to spread joy and consciousness throughout the world by transmitting body health, brain health, heart health, and soul health to all populations.
Positive Psychology is the science of happiness. Instead of asking—as many therapists do when starting out with a new client—“What’s wrong?” Positive Psychology begins by asking, “What’s right?” It explores such important questions as:
What is meaningful to me?
What brings me pleasure?
What are my deepest strengths?
Although this science dates all the way back to Socrates, the person who really put Positive Psychology on the map was Dr. Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written many books on the topic, including Flourish. Another Positive Psychology mover and shaker is Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier and Choose the Life You Want. Tal is a world-renowned speaker, educator, and director of the Certificate in Positive Psychology (CIPP) program at Kripalu through the WholeBeing Institute. Tal, a brilliant teacher, dedicated lifelong learner, and colleague, took Module 1 of my Let Your Yoga Dance Teacher Training. I’m on the faculty for CIPP, bringing Let Your Yoga Dance, yoga, and meditation into the mix so that the students can explore resilience, power, and zest through movement. They experience the tenets Positive Psychology in their bodies and hearts, as well as their minds. Martin Seligman, in Flourish, laments that Positive Psychology - and Psychology itself - are too “neck-up.” My job is to rectify that fact.
Positive Psychology is by no means a woo-woo, New Age effort that expects 24/ 7 happy-happy joy-joy. It doesn’t try to pretend that trauma, grief, depression, and deep sorrow do not exist. It just wants us to remember that joy and resilience are within reach as well. Positive Psychology is a well-researched science that explores the possibility of thriving, of flourishing, no matter what the circumstances. Martin Seligman is working with the United States Army, teaching the military about post-traumatic growth (PTG). Most of us have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder, but fewer people know about PTG. In a Harvard Business Review article called “Post-Traumatic Growth and Building Resilience.” Seligman, speaking primarily about Army veterans, says:
The majority of people are resilient.....My recommendation was to measure and build resilience, and to create an army...that was just as psychologically fit as physically fit.
If veterans, who have stared death in the face in the worst possible conditions, can experience post-traumatic growth, then all of us hopefully can.
There are a myriad of ways to travel the war-torn paths of grief. In the last two decades, I have found seven that work best for me: "Seven Healing Ways of Finding Grace Within Grief". In this blog series, I will share each one of the seven healing paths. I hope they will resonate with you.
Megha-Nancy Buttenheim, M.A., is the founder of Let Your Yoga Dance: Grace in Motion®. An international presenter and corporate trainer, Megha is a 27 year teacher-trainer at Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She is also a faculty member at the Nosara Yoga Institute in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and Kind Yoga School in Cape Cod, MA. She brings her passion and expertise as a lifelong dancer, actress, singer, yogi, and educator in experiential learning to all her workshops and trainings.