by Megha Nancy Buttenheim

I recently participated in a telesummit in which I was asked to share ways in which 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.

There are a myriad of ways to travel the wartorn paths of grief. 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.

Having lived at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (at the time a yoga ashram, or spiritual residential community) for 12 years, I had acquired many tools to help me cope. I also found healing through developing Let Your Yoga Dance, whose mission is to spread joy and consciousness throughout the world by transmitting body health, brain health, heart health, and soul health to all populations.

I created the practice over time, while living at Kripalu. 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. It 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.

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. 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 it dates all the way back to Socrates, Aristotle, and later to Abraham Maslow, the person who really established Positive Psychology was Dr. Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has written many books on the topic, including Flourish.

The person who is currently bringing this work to life is Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. Tal is not only a brilliant teacher but also a humble and dedicated lifelong learner, and colleague, who has taken Module 1 of my Let Your Yoga Dance Teacher Training.

Seligman, in Flourish, laments that Positive Psychology is too “neck up.” My job is to rectify that. I am on the faculty for Wholebeing Institute’s Certificate in Positive Psychology, bringing Let Your Yoga Dance, yoga, and meditation into the mix so that students can explore resilience, power, and zest through movement. They experience the tenets of Positive Psychology in their bodies and hearts, as well as their minds.

Seligman is presently working with the U.S. Army, teaching the military about post-traumatic growth (PTG). Most of us have heard of post-traumatic stress, 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. And what that means is, they go through a tough time after unemployment, after rejection, after combat, but a month or two later, by our psychological and physical measures, they’re back where they were. And then a large number of people show what’s called post-traumatic growth … My recommendation to General Casey 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 hopefully all of us can. I look forward to sharing more with you in next week’s post.

Megha Nancy ButtenheimMegha Nancy Buttenheim, MA, E-RYT, Megha Nancy Buttenheim, MA, E-RYT 500, is the founding director of Let Your Yoga Dance® and a faculty member for Wholebeing Institute’s Certificate in Positive Psychology.