3 Practices to Help Embrace the Healing Process (With Video)

Willis Johnston

Yoga has meant many things to me on my path as a devoted practitioner and will continue to offer up new insights and lessons through the practice. Like a good friend, yoga has always met me at the appropriate time and place.

As a professional dancer in New York City and Las Vegas, yoga met me with an invitation to restore my mind, body and spirit while navigating an occupation that, at times, could be downright brutal on those three aforementioned things.

Yoga met me with space, heightened consciousness and perspective when I lost my mother 2 and a half years ago after a quick, yet nasty battle with cancer. Her loss propelled me to pursue my 200-hour teacher training, where I was met with respect, gratitude, and deep love for the ancient tradition.

Through developing and cherishing a more personal practice of asana, meditation, and self-study, I learned a lot about loss, grief, and perhaps the most beautiful thing: healing.

"You can't rush your healing. Darkness has its teaching. Love is never leaving."~Trevor Hall

I feel as humans in today's fast world, we are so obsessed with the idea of completion. Whether it is work or a life experience, we so often have our eye on the finish line.

Frequently, the idea of being "done" is cherished over the process. About a year after my mom's passing, I grew frustrated with how quick I linked my current situation with her physical departure. I came to realize that deep down I had an unrealistic attachment to the idea of completing the grieving process and wiping my hands clean of the pain.

I have come to realize that this journey is precious. Missing her is precious. Having days of remembrance and joy and also days of anger, sadness and pain is precious.

Energy never dies. Energy just shape shifts and takes on new forms and therefore new meanings. The practice and challenge has been to find out what that exactly means. How do I find her, hear her and feel her? How do I communicate with her and tune in to her undoubted spirit-presence?

Slowing Down and Embracing the Healing Process

Yoga has provided me the tools to slow down, drop in, tune in, and explore the subtle energies inside and outside of my vessel that connect me to the beautiful vibration of my mother's light. I choose daily to embrace my healing, not rush my healing. And, I always, always, ALWAYS choose gratitude over pity.

Below are three of many practices that continue to help me embrace the healing process and progress on the spiritual path. Give them a try. My prayer is that you can find some insight through these practices.

1. Talk.

Speak to the beloved that has passed. Do it out loud. Have a conversation — spirit listens. Ask for assistance, guidance, or even just talk about your day or what you had for breakfast.

This has proven, in my practice, to bridge the gap between the physical and spiritual realms. Something as common place as having a conversation while acknowledging the undeniable energetic presence of a lost loved one can elevate your faith and awareness in your ability to connect.

2. Meditate.

Meditation quiets the mind while increasing consciousness and the depth of the subtle energies. Pick a theme with your loved one in mind. This could be many things, but I often find myself landing on GRATITUDE.

Take a comfy seat, some deep breaths, and recall a few things your lost loved one has graciously bestowed upon you. Let these thoughts ease pain, make you smile, perhaps even move you to tears of joy. Soak up the warmth and beauty these thoughts make you feel, and simply transition into a simple mantra meditation: (inhale) I AM (exhale) GRATEFUL.

3. Dedicate.

Choose a quality that you admire about your departed and move through space with that quality as an embodiment of their spirit. For example, my mother devoted her career to working with people with disabilities. Her graceful benevolence astounds me to this day.

So, I often choose to focus on graceful and generous moments on my yoga mat, as well as in the world. I aim to donate annually, in her honor, to a charity that benefits those with disabilities, and/or do volunteer work with that same sense of loving generosity.

I hope these practices provide some platforms to spring from, should you need inspiration while navigating a process of healing. May your heart take wing and fly in peace. Namaste.