There is hardly a time of year that is more filled with opposites than “the holidays.” Greed and giving, gratitude and wishing for more, warm homes and cold winter weather…Grief and Joy. In yogic philosophy, we acknowledge that exploring opposite sensations and emotions is a highly effective mindset for overcoming attachment and delusion. Given the amount of emotional release we might experience while we are moving our bodies, particularly during a yoga practice, it might be beneficial this time of year to consider an objective perspective on Grief and Joy.
According to B.K.S. Iyengar’s book Light on Life, emotional disturbances are inner conflicts, and inner conflicts must be resolved with intention and regular attention in order for peace to be possible internally and externally. In order to be victorious over the root causes of delusions or inner conflicts, one might consider employing discrimination and reasoning to distinguish present sensations from permanent spiritual delight
Let’s apply that to grief: the present moment sensation of grief can be physical, mental and emotional heaviness, sadness and emptiness. As a human being and seasoned yoga instructor I can verify that there is a physical texture to sensations, feelings, thoughts and emotions. Grief has a complex molecular structure in that grief is never experienced as present moment sensation; rather, grief drudges up and compounds every experience that has ever been rife with grief, as our bodies store emotional data on a cellular level. In other words, we might be grieving one particular incident or loss, but the body has grieved before so every cell in the body is engaged in every grieving process it has ever endured.
The permanent lasting spiritual delight within grief is that we ever loved the one we are grieving. The delightful spiritual imprint of that permanent love is not diminished by present sensation no matter its intensity. This is the joy within grief.