How to Use Mindfulness to Get Through a Breakup

Alexis Novak is a yoga instructor, NASM-CPT, and mobility enthusiast. As a contributor for THE/THIRTY, Alexis will be sharing her knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, and meditation to help you find your balance between strength and serenity. Her approach to wellness is to simplify and keep a sense of humor. This month, she's sharing how to negotiate the end of a relationship with that kind of philosophy.

So it happened: The relationship you invested time, energy, and love into has come to an end. Now your only choice is to mend your heart and put yourself back together. When you are in the thick of a breakup, it feels impossible to do some of the most basic tasks, but I promise it won't feel like that forever. Time heals most, and you are stronger than you know.

It helps to keep your sense of humor close. Healing is an individual endeavor; it's unique for everyone. What has worked for me might not work for you, and what works for you may not work for others. Regardless of how you approach the process of returning to yourself, you are your first priority. You are lovable. You are desirable. You'll never believe what great expansiveness your heart will feel at the other side of this discomfort.

In my previous post, I spoke to how to embrace the "push away" emotions (jealousy, anger, resentment, etc.) and release that which no longer serves us. This is an extension of that.

If we peel back all the layers of emotion, decoration, and ego, we are at our core: love. Feeding this is what guides our life. We seek out things we like, and we push away things we don't. This is our attempt at "happiness." During breakups, this creates a glitch in the system. Not only are we trying to push away the feelings that we don't like (unfulfillment, rejection, longing, heartbreak, sadness, or disconnection), but we're also pelted with pangs of wanting to move toward the thing that we do like: the person who we were bonded to in that relationship.

If you approach mindfully, there's a way to use this difficult time with these complex emotions to deepen your own mindfulness practice. You can heal yourself gently from a breakup. These are a few starter steps and mantras that have helped me heal from a breakup using mindfulness practice. A more detailed outline can be found in the amazing book Training in Compassion ($12) by Norman Fischer.


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The opportunities for mindfulness are boundless

Meditation is doing whatever we are doing when we are doing it—whether that is driving, eating, or crying. Focusing attention on what is right here right now is a perfect place to start getting back to your body and sending your loving energy to your own life. During a split, it's easy to slip into thinking constantly about the other person and the relationship that was. Bringing yourself back to your present moment in healing is a great way to reconnect with your present breath and body. When you feel yourself getting sucked into a negative thought circle, that's the practice. I use the mantra My emotions are just information—they don't mean anything about my character to redirect my thoughts away from shame or guilt.

Begin at the beginning, and end at the end

In most instances, our frustrations can be boiled down to fighting with what is. We think the world should be one way (we want a certain job, relationship, or response from someone), and that isn't what reality has given us, so we get angry or upset. But what "begin at the beginning, and end at the end" reminds us is that everything has a life cycle, and reality has no slip-ups. If something has ended, it has ended, and that's okay, and it has to be, or we are in for a painful time. Fighting it will only frustrate us. I repeat this mantra to myself when I catch negative thoughts about something that has or hasn't happened creep up.

Either way, be patient

Nobody expects you to heal overnight, and you shouldn't expect that from yourself either. You'll feel better when you feel better, and there is no rush. Real growth and authentic mending take an intense amount of time, energy, and effort. When I was going through my most recent breakup, I kept visualizing that I was trudging, crawling even, through thick, dense mud. It would hold my ankles and make it so hard to move forward, but I kept walking. Sometimes I would slip up and backslide into old bad habits that I knew never helped me, but then right back into the mud I'd go. The only way out is through, and patience will keep you steady.

Be gentle with yourself. You're returning to you.