I dedicate this blog to a dear friend who lost their father too soon.
Heart + Mind
In Ayurveda, there is an aspect or subdosha of pitta called sadhaka pitta that controls communication between heart and mind. Sadhaka pitta is treated when there is a strong desire to know God or experience true love in an attempt to further deepen connection between heart and mind. Sadhaka pitta is also treated when connection between heart and mind is lost, severed, or broken from emotional trauma or the passing of a loved one.
Sadhaka is the heart asking the mind to listen to its feelings rather than the thoughts and emotions of the mind. It is the heart saying it is now time for me to hold the reigns and drive this chariot. It’s time to stop thinking and worrying and start feeling.
When we experience loss, the pain is often too great to tolerate, so we emotionally wall that part of ourselves off and become numb to those feelings.
Many years ago, when I was codirecting Deepak Chopra’s Ayurveda Center in Massachusetts, I had a patient whom I diagnosed with a sadhaka pitta imbalance from his pulse. I inquired about his emotions and asked if there was any recent emotional traumas or heartbreaks.
His eyes immediately welled up and he told me that two years ago his son, the quarterback of the high school football team, crashed his car into a tree on prom night and died.
My patient was a well-known real estate developer in the area where we lived and I remembered hearing about that accident. It was very disturbing news for everyone in that small town. He told me that ever since his son died, he hasn’t built anything. He said his wife wants him to be with her but he can’t and he told me, “I just go for long walks all day, come back, eat, and go to bed. I don’t want to build anything; I just want to be alone.”
When we lose someone dear to us, it is natural to retreat, protect ourselves emotionally, and become numb, but grief is a process of starting to feel again, albeit sometimes extremely painfully at first. Slowly, the urge to grieve allows us to feel again and, in small dosages, we learn to tolerate the pain as we move through it. Grieving is an important part of the process of becoming whole again after loss, regaining one’s passion, and even building a spiritual connection with those who have passed. I shared this with my patient and he said, “The pain is just too much for me to bare and I cannot go near it.”
We RecommendCultivate Relationships without Emotional Armor
Grief + Lymph
This process of building protective emotional armor from a loss is described as a protective block in the emotional aspect of kapha called tarpaka kapha. Kapha is the heavy (earth-water) dosha and tarpaka kapha is linked to congestion of lymphatics in the brain and central nervous system called the glymphatic system. Congestion of these newly discovered brain lymphatics has been linked to a series of health concerns including anxiety, depression, inflammation, infections, cognitive decline and even auto-immune concerns.1
Learn more about brain lymphatics and emotional health here.
Ayurveda developed deep cleansing strategies to remove congestion in the tarpaka kapha as a way to free us of old emotional trauma. The technique is called SAN, shiro-abyhanga-nasya.2
Learn how to perform this spa therapy at home here.
Creating a Spiritual Bond with a Loved One Who Has Passed
There is a Vedic idea that helped me find peace and then a deeper relationship with my dad when he passed a few years back:
Pain and fear are directly across from bliss. The reason for pain and fear is to get your attention so you can go to the pain, through the pain, and then access a deeper part of yourself and let that part out.3
The extent that we loved them and they loved is the extent that through their loss we—through the pain—have access to a deeper part of ourselves. According to the Vedas, when someone passes, they shed their emotional armor and find themselves yearning for and finally free to love us fully, purely, and deeply in a way they may not have been able to do while here: the emotional blocks are gone.
When a loved one passes, they tug on our hearts, encouraging us to go through the pain and grief so we can shed our emotional armor, too, and feel the love we too bury inside.
What is the point of all the pain of grief? To help us to go to it and through it, to find a place in our hearts where your loved one is waiting to have a new relationship with you, heart to heart, based on true love. They are now free to love us fully and are waiting to connect with us on this much deeper, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul level. The passing is as much growth for us as it is for them.
Communication with elders who have passed is a way of life in certain African tribes. Who says their soul is not accessible to us to have a relationship with? In fact, the opportunity, according to Ayurveda, is for us is to have a new, different, but somehow deeper relationship with them, one that they are ready for now because they’ve shed their emotional pain.
As painful as the process of grief is, it has a silver lining: a connection with your loved one that is very real and in some ways deeper and more pure than the relationship we had when they were here. Once passed, they are free to love fully and, if we choose to go through the pain of grief and allow the loss to bore a hole deeply into our very delicate hearts, we can find a place of peace, love, and deep contentment that we may have never known before.
This is the gift from them to us—encouraging us to grow, let go of emotional pain, and then experience true love, first with the one who has passed and then with our loved ones still here on earth.
When our loved ones pass, they sink a hook deep into our hearts and they will never let go of it, tugging on us to grow, shine, and be free. Soon, we will see a special relationship between the deeper part of them and the deeper part of us being created. This is a special holy time, as it is the birth of a new relationship, and this time, it is eternal!
Hear more on this topic in the article I wrote after my dad passed, Love after Death.