This week's guest, Maha Bodhi, who previously appeared on the podcast in season 3, shares her experience of saying goodbye to her dog and the grief she experienced as a result. Having to choose what she felt was right for her pet versus hoping nature would take its course is a struggle many pet owners face when their pet reaches the end of their life.
Pet loss is one of the most minimized losses. Those who don't experience pet loss, and many grievers, often see pets as being replaceable. Although Maha did attempt to replace Blake's loss with another dog a month after his passing, she quickly realized it wasn't the best decision for herself or the other dog.
In the following months, Maha was reminded of what she had learned through several Heart with Ears sessions with me, Victoria, while her dog, Blake, was preparing to transition. And that was that grief needs to be honored, felt, and addressed. One of the ways we can do that, which I had shared with Maha, is through the Grief Recovery Method, as described in The Grief Recovery Handbook.
Maha took herself through the method in the book and found tremendous value and relief. Although going it alone is not recommended for reasons explained in this episode, Maha gained new knowledge and tools that help her better support herself and others during times of challenge.
"The degree of your surrender is the degree of your success." - Maha Bodhi
This episode is sponsored by Do Grief Differently™️, my twelve-week, one-on-one, in-person/online program for grievers who have suffered any type of loss to feel better. Click here to learn new tools, grief education, and the only evidence-based method for moving beyond the pain of grief.
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Victoria Volk: Welcome listeners to grieving voices. Today, I'm excited to bring back a previous guest for a part two recording Maha Bodhi, we initially recorded, and you can I'm gonna link to the episode in the show notes, but it was from season three episode one zero nine, a quest for inner peace and freedom. And thank you so much, first of all, for coming back to record with me and the reason why I wanted to have you back is because since we recorded, you had a devastating loss that you've worked through and you've moved through. And so you're here to share that experience. And also, what's kind of just blown up in your world since in a good way. So thank you so much for coming back.
Maha Bodhi: Thanks for having me, Victoria. I'm so excited to be here. And I've been looking forward to our conversation to follow up on our previous podcast. So, yeah, I'm excited to be here.
Victoria Volk: I had actually met Maha initially at a women's convention thing. And you're a public speaker there and, I don't know, we connected after and kept in touch, and I actually invited you on my podcast. That was that first episode. And after that, you had reached out to me because you blake, your dog was incredibly sick, and he was going to be passing. That's why I wanted to have you back here too to speak to that experience because it hasn't really been covered on this podcast before. But also because you're kind of on the other side of it now, and I want people to realize the importance of that loss that it's because it is so minimized in our society, and if you would mind taking it from here and just speaking to that experience.
Maha Bodhi: Yes, absolutely. So I really, you know, I'm a a yogi first and foremost, and I truly believe that the universe always gives you the right people at the right time in your life that can support you throughout your journey. And we have met in the Woman Business Summit in the Conference where I was a public I was, like, the inspirational speaker, the keynote, and that's how we connected, and you have this great podcast in Europe. You're certified in Grief recovery, and that's kind of your area of expertise and your superpower. And when we did the initial podcast, I truly haven't experienced a tremendous loss in my life, so I wasn't able to really speak to that. And it's interesting that we did our podcast and that's it and we went our separate ways.
Maha Bodhi: And then my dog and he was such an important figure in my life. Like, my dog was or I don't have kids and we were really we had such as deep on it and I know a lot of dog parents can relate to this, but we were inseparable where I go. He goes. I would always tell my friends he's part of me like a limb. Like he's just always with me. We travel together. We do yoga together. You know? I do everything with him. And if, you know, I have even if it's a a work opportunity and they don't allow dogs, like, I won't go. Like, that's how I refused to leave him behind. And when I got him, he was he's a he's a rescue. So we really didn't know how old he was. They told me he's two years old, and then I took him to a vet, and they said he the vet said he's five years old. But we really couldn't tell.
Maha Bodhi: But I had him for eight years, and I thought that I still had more time with him. So I was really I was not prepared. It was a shock to me, and it happened so quickly, so fast that I took him to the vet and they said he has kidney cancer and he has and he's gonna and he's gonna die. Like, be prepared to make arrangement. I knew that this was gonna be a big deal for me. And I knew that this thing can I didn't want it to break me. So I knew that I needed support. And I wanted expert support.
Maha Bodhi: And so I reached out to you right away because I knew you were certified in Grief recovery. You also kindly suggested that I hire an end-of-life Doula, which I didn't even know such job existed, which I am so grateful that it exists because it's such noble work to help people in, you know, the most difficult time of their lives. And like you said, I really think that our dog's passing the way is really underrated. Like, when you tell someone my dog is not like, oh, I'm sorry. And that's pretty much it. But for me, he was my whole life. He was like my child, mine, everything. And like I mentioned, like, we wake up together, we sleep together with you. So then there's this emptiness when he's gone. It's like, what am I gonna do when he's gone? And I really wanted the support that I need. I wanted to process this in the healthiest way possible. I know it was gonna be painful. I know it was gonna be hard. And so I just needed support. And we did a few sessions together, and it was tremendously helpful. And the doula was because you're not we're not in the same physical location. So the doula was actually here in Los Angeles, so she was able to come over and really had really hold my hand step by step. You're helping me there, and she's helping me. So I really got incredible support, and I'm truly grateful. Because with pets, it's not just that, oh, your pet is dying, you have to make a decision. The most difficult decision that there ever is is whether you help them cross over to the other side or you let kind of nature take its course. And that's the most difficult decision. And I just felt like oh my god, not only am I grieving his loss, grieving his illness, seeing him suffering, but now I actually have to make this the hardest decision that I've ever made is like how you and it has to happen quickly. It's not like, oh, you have time to think about this. You have it's like he's suffering and you have to think and it was against everything in my nature. Are you telling me that I'm supposed to, like, I'm just gonna say, like, kill my own dog, like, that's not in my nature, that's not. And but then you see him suffering And I and it was just like, okay, what do I do here? And that's where you helped me. And she helped me.
Maha Bodhi: And I'm a deep meditator. And I tried to we even did Reiki with my dog together, and I really tried to tap into his energy. But I also knew him so well because of our bond. And I knew he was kinda done. He was done and who's ready to go. And animals, they're different. They don't have the ego that we have the clinging on to the life that we as human have. Like, he knew that his journey was over and his soul was ready to leave his body and he was okay with that. And so I just had to hold his hand and help him pass through when I had to make that difficult decision with the help of the doula. So we did everything together step by step. I actually I didn't want to do the unionization, but what ended up happening is that he ended up having seizures. Like really, really bad seizures. I could hear his, like, bone clicking. And I just was like, I can't, like, if it was me and I'm having these intense seizures, I would want somebody to help me pass away peacefully. So that's what I did. And it was an emergency because it was just hot. It was, like, at it was, like, at three in the morning and then and I called the doula. I mean, how amazing is she? She's, like, I'm on call. My phone is, let me know, and I'll come with you. And I call her, and we go at three in the morning, we go to the hospital, and the hospital was amazing, and I'm just so grateful that we even have these resources and we have these people and we have access to this support because I'm not originally from the United States and most other countries don't have these kind of resources. They don't have an animal hospital, an animal room, where you can go at three in the morning and the vet is there and the staff is there and and and they know what they're doing, their pros, and they know how to help you. And they put me in a private room and we were there with him the whole time. And I will say that I don't have regrets. I feel like I did the right thing to do because of my the meditations and the energy that I was tapping in. I just felt like this is this is just the right humane thing to do for him. And then we and in the hospital, they take they take the that they take the pet and they cremate him or whatever you decide you wanna do. But because I had my doula, I took him back. I took him back and we washed him at home, and we did a ceremony, and we did a vigil, and it was really truly healing for me. It really gave me that closure because it was really, really stressful before and I had to make the decision and it was just so and then once thou was over and I was really able to grieve and sit with him and sit with and pet him and he's just there's a put flowers around him and just meditate and process the pain. And I learned this from both of you to really give myself permission to breathe. It's okay to cry. It's okay to feel pain. And I would sit every single day and just allow myself to cry and sit and really create space. And I'm like, I'm just gonna sit here and I'm gonna and I cry and I but until I don't feel like crying anymore, I'm not gonna resist it. I'm not gonna try to distract myself. I'm not gonna try to run away from this pain. I'm gonna honor this, this like that came into my life. And I will say that it was really, really healthy and I kept seeing you and I kept seeing the doula after a few times and until I felt like, okay, I think I'm now in a good healthy place. And I'm ready to take the next step of the journey. So really thank you to you, Victoria so much you played a tremendous role in this experience that I had.
Victoria Volk: Thank you for sharing all of that. What people don't really may not realize, like, you didn't and maybe many other people listening don't. Is that because I'm an end-trained end-of-life doula, and it hadn't occurred to me either, even in my local area to pitch myself as an end-of-life doula to support people with their animals passing. Right? Like, as an end-of-life doula, we have this training that can transfer into these other areas of people's lives like pet loss. And so I'm glad that you I'm glad that I had that idea to share with you and that you took it upon yourself to do that.
Maha Bodhi: I did not even I have heard of, like, the birth doulas that helped bring life into the world, but I did never heard about end-of-life doulas. And I think people need to know that there is support available and there is a healthy way to process this. You don't need to do it alone.
Victoria Volk: And had this end-of-life doula, had she ever helped others, as a service in with pet loss before?
Maha Bodhi: Yeah. She's Verint.
Victoria Volk: Okay.
Maha Bodhi: Yeah. She's Verint. She works mostly, like, with people that are past in the way, but also she said, oh yeah, with animals and she also said that it's very underrated and people think, oh, it's just a dog, it's just a pet, but that loss is huge for me.
Victoria Volk: Well, and just like people who have a spouse. Right? A spouse passes away. That person becomes very much a fabric of your daily life. You have breakfast together or you have dinner together or you mow the lawn together, regularly what are all these activities, right, that you do on a day to day basis with a spouse, you were doing with your pet. And our pets are involved in our daily lives.
Maha Bodhi: So it. They don't talk. They don't, pets are just so unconditionally loving. And there's also a chemical literally, a chemical withdrawal that happens because dogs are known to induce dopamine, induce those happy hormones in the brain and the body. They say just snuggling with your dog induces all sorts of chemicals that induce happiness, induce joy. And there is a chemical withdrawal that happens when I've been living with the stock for eight years I come home, and he's jumping, and I'm smiling. Now when I come home, like, I don't have a reason to smile. I don't have a reason to giggle, to laugh, to run around because there's no one there. And so that's like literally a chemical withdraw that your brain has been used to your body has been used to inducing, and now it's gone, and it really drops your energy. But I mean, like I said, because of the grief recovery, and, like, your support and we're gonna talk about this in a little bit, I was really able to to process it in a healthy way.
Victoria Volk: And I do recall after he passed, you were looking for another pet, which is also our inclination. Right? Like, we want to replace that loss and
Maha Bodhi: Who said, don't do it?
Victoria Volk: Yeah.
Maha Bodhi: I'm just gonna be really transparent. I'm gonna be really honest and I struggled with this a lot. But I was looking for another pet and you told me don't do it because you're just gonna replace you're trying to replace your dog. And it just doesn't work first. And I think you even sent me an article and I read the article And I just I'm just so emotional. And it hasn't been, like, maybe a month since Blake, my dog passed away. And I just saw this furry animal online, and then he looks exactly like Blake. And I was like, I'm just gonna go and get this dog. And I went and I got this dog and I mean, it didn't work out. Believe it or not, because I'm a dog lover. And I was like, oh, I will love any dog. It's unconditional love, and it's and even though I was aware because I was educated by you and I read the books and I understood that they say, oh, don't just try to replace the dog. And I'm like, okay, this is a new dog. He's a puppy. Right? Like, when he passed away, it was older, it was mature, so it's a completely different energy. This is a one-year-old puppy active hyper different energy. We haven't bonded, this is a new completely new relationship And so I even though cognitively, like, intellectually, I was aware of that, and still the reality of it was very different. And so it was very difficult for us to bond even though I tried. And I would walk him and we'd try to do training sessions, and we and we did all these things and he and he was very high energy. If I wasn't breathing, it would have worked out. But he needed a lot of energy and a lot of attention that I didn't have the capacity at that time to do. He was chewing everything, chewing the furniture, chewing the remote, chewing my shoes, and Blake was beyond that phase in his life. And so that dog needed more training, more energy, more. And if I was in a like I said, in a good place, I would've probably would be more ready for that, but I wasn't. And it was because then what I was looking for was an emotional support animal. And what this dog ended up being, I was the one who needed to support the dog. And so it just it wasn't fair for the dog. And the dog didn't bond with me. So the dog, they're highly intelligent. They're so they're just feelings. Right? They're all, like, just intuition. They don't intellectualize. And so the dog felt like this isn't right. And so we tried for two months we did trainings. We hired professional dog trainers. And it was just the dog was so unhappy. Would distract the house, would it would try to bite me, would try to like, it was just the I can tell the dog was like, you're not my mommy, I don't wanna be here, and it was really sad and I had to rehome the dog. And I will say that I always judged people that overwhelm the dog. And I would always say there's no bad dog. There's only a bad owner. And this experience allowed me to change my mind about a lot of things. It was a learning experience, and it was my mistake that I didn't honor the process grieving and I didn't give myself time to grieve and I thought this would be just a quick fix and everything is gonna be okay and it wasn't and it was really really hard and I was ashamed I will say to rehome him because people will come, where's your dog? Where's your dog? And I just feels so like a really bad person to say I had to overwhelm the dog. But guess what? The dog ended up having exactly the parent that he needed. Right? He now he's happy. I even asked the new mom. I was like, is he chewing? It's just like, no. He doesn't chew in her house. He doesn't do destructive things at her house. And so it was the energy. Just wasn't the right energy. And ever since I haven't, I haven't gotten another dog. I was like, when the time is right, it's gonna happen, and the right dog will find me, and I will find the right dog.
Maha Bodhi: But it's definitely been a tremendously growth experience that impacted the work that I do. I'm an inspirational speaker. I'm a yoga instructor. I live with retreats and teacher trainings and all these things. And it really added a level of depth of my empathy, of my compassion, to people, to loss, to grief, and to understand it instead of running away from it. So I will say, like, before that, I was very focused on positive mindset, positive thinking moving forward And this was kind of the missing piece of the puzzle because the ying and the ying, that's really part of life. And it is superficial for us to just focus on, yes, positive, positive and moving forward is a great way to live life. But we also really need to honor and process the darkness and process the grief. And there is multiple healthy ways to do this. And if you don't and if you try to skip steps and you've tried to hack your way through it, it keeps building up, it's building up, and it's gonna come out one way or another, and you're just gonna make mistakes. And that's the beauty of life. It keeps nudging you in the right direction and it gives you exactly what you need until you face, what you need to face. And that's how you move. And it's called I'm sure you've heard the spelling post-traumatic growth versus post-traumatic stress, that's how you choose to grow instead of stress and get stuck.
Victoria Volk: Thank you for sharing all that because I did not know that piece that you had actually gotten another dog in all of that experience. So thank you for sharing that. I mean, for people listening too, it's it doesn't have to be a dog. I mean, this can apply to relationships too, friendships, spouses. Like, I mean, this is what we do. This is our like, are instinct to do. We, like, we just wanna we wanna get over the pain. Right? And so we just wanna feel better and it just doesn't work to push yourself through it or to sweep it under the rug and try to just
Maha Bodhi: Gonna come out one way or another, energy. It's literally energy. And if you don't give that energy time to liberate itself to process, to move through you, right? We know that saying about emotions or energy in motion, so they wanted to move, they want to. The energies want to be liberated. It's us that keep them stuck when we resisted, when we try to cheat, when we try to skip steps, that's when things get messed up. But if we allow nature to take its course. And we honor the process that's where growth in learning happens. That's where opportunity really happens. And it builds care and it makes you a better human in life and it makes you then better in relationship in your future because you've healed and you've processed what he's processing and you're not gonna dump your expectations and your pain and all the past information on this new relationship. So it's not even fair to the new relationship just like with my dog. It wasn't fair to that dog, and the dog was happier with someone else. And it's the same thing like you said, with the spouse, with the relationship, with the human being. So we're always trying to avoid pain as humans. It's in our nature to do whatever we can do to avoid the pain, to run away from no one wants to hurt. Right? But it's kinda counterintuitive that the caves you fear to enter, hold the treasures that you seek Joseph Campbell said that. And I always say that in my teachings, but leaning into the pain and processing the pain and allowing it to feel your feelings I mean, I can't stress this enough to feel your feelings. And I'm not talking about to feel the story behind the feelings, but actually to feel the sensations of the feeling, and a lot of people don't know how to discern between the two. So, like, feeling your feelings is, like, oh, I like, oh, I'm feeling I'm feeling sad. I feel I missed this person. That's an emotion. That's still you're still at the level of the mind. But to feel the feelings, it's this what is this sensation? This you're missing this person or you're hurting. You're grieving. You're you're experiencing loss. What is how does that manifest physically in your body? It's a physical sensation. So if I pinch you, The pinch, it's a physical sensation. So is it sharp? Is it heaviness in your chest? Is it hollow stomach is it a fidgeting, a shaking in the legs. So it's a sensation and it really took me a long time to get this. And so when we feel that heaviness in the chest, when we feel I sometimes I used to feel like my arm goes numb. And so what happens is that when we feel the sensation, the brain freaks out, and it's like, okay, solution, solution, solution. Let's run away from this. What do I? Because the brain is creative. Problem solving. Okay. Get another dog. Okay. Let's go shopping. Okay. Let's binge-watch. Okay. Let's grab the drink. Let's grab the alcohol. Let's let's do something so I don't feel this sharpness, this numbiness, this heaviness. But the secret is that you actually wanna lean into it. You wanna sit with this. You wanna hold your own hand. And be like, I'm gonna be here. We're gonna stay here and it's gonna be okay. We're gonna feel the feelings. And I'm not gonna abandon you. I'm not gonna neglect you like how everyone did in your life, I we talked about my upbringing in my past. And so we learned this abandonment. It's really your abandoning yourself when you grab the drink, when you grab, you turn on the TV or you grab your phone. You're doing what people who abandoned you did to you and you're just repeating the cycle. But if you say, hey, you know what? I'm not going I'm gonna love you unconditionally. And I'm not gonna leave you when you're hurting. I'm gonna be with you when you're hurting. And I'm gonna feel the hurt, and we're gonna be in this together. And then this tremendous liberation of energy happens. When you tell your brain, hey, you know what? You can go offline. You don't need There's no problem to solve. Okay? Just it's okay. It's safe to feel.
You can just be quiet and I'm gonna feel my feels. I'm not gonna try to fix it. I'm not gonna try to change it. I'm not gonna try to solve for it. I'm just going to feel it. It's as simple as that.
Maha Bodhi: And the moment you wholeheartedly do this at the liberation of energy because that energy that's being consumed and overloaded and trying to find an escape is now liberated. And there is this sense of freedom, and that's where really true healing happens. And it's almost like a superpower because you're no longer afraid of the pain. And that translates in so many areas in your life, Victoria. I mean, it translates it in you not being afraid in the world anymore. You're able to take more risks because you're not afraid of the pain. You're not afraid of rejection. You're not afraid of doubt. You're not afraid of uncertainty. You're not afraid of the unknown because, hey, no matter what life throws at me, I'm I'm okay with that. I'm okay with feeling the feels. I'm okay with feeling the pain. And that translates into confidence in the world that translates and you're really wholeheartedly showing up. Here I am, whole complete, not perfect, but whole and complete, vulnerable. Yes, I'm a human being. Yes, I have flaws, but I'm okay with that. And I accept myself unconditionally, and it all starts with leaning into the pain and allowing yourself to feel the sensations in your body and not running away from it.
Victoria Volk: So good. And when people listening, they couldn't see what I was seeing unless they're watching this on YouTube, but you kind of gestured to your left shoulder, which energetically is grief and despair. In biofuel tuning, that's where we see often is grief and despair is off the left shoulder. So I just wanted to share that with.
Maha Bodhi: And when we worked together, you touched upon that because we worked and you would ask me these things where do you feel it in your body, and I didn't even need to think about it. Like, I mean, right away, for me, it's always my heart and then my left sided. And all and if it's intense, like, when like, that it goes all the way down to my left arm, to my left fingertips, and normally I would freak out, before I learned about going for covering the pond how it manifests in the body and all these things and feeling the feels I would be like, oh my god my arm is going numb. Like, oh, let's call the doctor. Let's, what's happening. Right? But now I understand this. And I understand what's happening, and I just literally bold myself. Like, it's okay. I know you're hurting right now, and it's okay.
Victoria Volk: So when you had this realization that this second dog was not going to replace Blake, that you had to do something for yourself to get to move through this. What did that look like? What was that process for you then?
Maha Bodhi: I rehome the dog and I just took a few moments. I just took it one day at a time to be honest. I took it one day at a time once at that time. And, I'm a yoga teacher. I have a very strong yoga practice, and I embody yoga, not just, I don't know, like, a lot of people think yoga is an exercise. It's stretching and exposes and it's so much deeper than that. And for me, I embody it as a way of being I believe that yoga is a science. It's a science of being in the world. It's a science of living healthy in the world. Not only in your body, but in your mind and in your heart. And so when stress builds up in your body, when your arm goes numb, when your chest is hurting, that's energy in your body. And when we move the body in a very specific way, in a very mindful way, you're helping that energy to process. You're helping that energy to move. So yoga is deeply connected to the nervous system. It's connected to the mind, to the brain.
Maha Bodhi: So I had just had my practices, and I check-in with myself every morning I wake up and I'm like, okay, what is the diagnose? How am I feeling today? Because sometimes if you're breathing too intensely and the body is too overwhelmed, you actually don't wanna do the invigorating sweaty power yoga classes. You might wanna move a little bit slower and a little bit more gentle and do the more gentle flow. So I would every morning wake up and check-in with myself, how am I feeling today? Do I need to pick it up a notch? Do I need to slow it down? In the evening, I always journal to process my thoughts, so they're not just floating in my head and overwhelming. So I always write I always start with gratitude because we do have a negativity bias that the brain automatically wants protect you from danger. So the brain is always looking around what can go wrong. And so practicing gratitude is grabbing the steering wheel and be like, no, no, no, yes. There are hard things in life, but there's also really good things in life, and let's not lose track of those good things. So I would right away start to write three things that I'm grateful for, and they could be as simple as, I don't know. I had a a nice smoothy today. You know? It's it could be just as simple as that. And then if there's something that I've been struggling with, I'll key I'll start to process it and I'll start to write it down. In the moment you start to write things down, you it creates a little bit of clarity and you will start to really see things and you start to see even patterns in your journal and you start to see, okay, this is just, me in my default state and I actually have control in in the way that I process information in the way I process the world.
Maha Bodhi: So I always say we see things not with our eyes. We see things with our mind. And it was Dr. Wayne Dyer that famously said when you change the way you look at things, the things that you'll look at begin to change. Right? And so and that's what journaling does for me. It changes the way I see things, it changes the way I process information, and it gives me an opportunity to make a choice because we always, always have a choice even though when it doesn't look like we do, we have a choice.
Maha Bodhi: So those are my practices for the longest longest time, yoga, journaling, and my work, my work is really participating and helping people and being of service and contributing to society. And so because my work is deeply integrated with my personality, there's I'm very fortunate. And you this. I used to work in the corporate world, so it wasn't always like this. I used to have to be two separate people. I used to be have to be, Maha at home and then Maha at work. But because of now I'm so fortunate that I get to do what I love, and I am a living, breathing embodiment of what the practice of yoga is, there is no separation. So it's either I'm either practicing yoga or I'm teaching yoga or I'm creating something around yoga. And that I really heal through the work. When you do meaningful, purposeful work, you heal through the work and then you see people come to me and I can be just saying something so simple and they come to me thank you so much. You have no idea how much I needed to hear that. I don't know how you knew what I was going through. And I'm like, I didn't. No. But you need but you heard exactly what you needed to do. And yoga is so universal that it applies to literally almost every person no matter what you're going through.
Maha Bodhi: So really that's that's how it helped me through. It wasn't until recently that I actually did the grief recovery program. And I know when we were working together, you were telling me, and it was honestly thanks to you because I didn't even know it. It even existed. I didn't know much about grief. I'm gonna say that during those things to you that I really am now educated. You recommended. You and you kept drilling it. You're like because we log in and we'd have a session like this, and I'm just, like, complaining complaining complaining. Like telling you about all my pain and what I'm going through. And you keep telling me you have to do the program. And I think I was just in so much pain at the time, and enrolling in a program felt overwhelming. And I was like, oh my god. I am dealing with this, and now I have to do a program, and I have to, like, write things and all these things. And I was like, I just don't have the mental capacity to do it.
Maha Bodhi: So again, I was trying to skip steps. Again, I was trying to cheat my way through. And like I just mentioned earlier, there's it comes out one way or another. That energy is gonna be dispersed. It's gonna slowed one way or another. So it wasn't until very recently, and I think it's been, like, more than a year since we did our sessions. And it wasn't until very recently that I kept feeling this level of grief. And you know grief is not like, okay, my dog died and that was a horrible thing, but it's not it's not just that grief. It's all the griefs that you felt from the day you were born, one on top of the other, on top of that that you never processed in a healthy way. So that energy kept building up, building up, building up until, the dog dies, and then it's and then it's an explosion. And so then that just kept happening. I just noticed that I'm very sensitive and I'm very easily I don't like the word triggered, but I just I I just wanted to I I just wanted I'm like, okay. There's something off here. There's something off here, and it just won't go away. And I noticed because of my love of awareness, this voice in your head or this pain in your body. If you don't pay attention to it, it just keeps getting louder and louder. And louder until it forces you to stop and drop everything and look at me. That's what it's saying. It saying, look at me, I need your attention. And that's really just reached a point where it happened, and I can't tell you that it's like a specific incident. I think it was just an accumulation of events. And I was like, you know what? I need to nip this in the butt. I need to find the source of this grief and process it in a healthy way. And I remembered you and I remember the grief recovery program. And I was like, let me look this up. And I looked it up, and I found the book, and I bought the book, and I started reading the book. And I just started doing the exercise because it's literally a workbook and it's a step-by-step workbook and I just kept doing it. And I'm not gonna lie to you even though, I'm in this field of healing. I'm a yogi and all these things. It's not for the faint of heart, and I was nervous. And I honestly see the value of having someone like you a guide to guide you through. I just thought I was like, I'll just do it by myself, and I just did it by myself. And in the book, they always say it's better. So much better to work with someone, but they also give you an option to to do it on your own. So I just follow the instructions to do it on my own, and I drew the graph the timeline of my and it always usually starts with your parents because that's, like, the oldest grief ever. It always starts there. And so I did that and I did one for my mother and I did one for my father and I was so scared and because they tell you to write things, to process, to write the statements. I'm like, are they gonna tell me to show them this statement?
Maha Bodhi: And I was like, I almost stopped at that point because I was my subconscious mind locked in that fear, just locked in and I stopped at that crucial point, which I'm not supposed to stop. And I stopped, for a couple of days, I stopped just like, oh, tomorrow, tomorrow. Like, you know, like, I'm just so scared. And then and then I felt that the energy. Right? It's like it's like it wants to be released, and it's like I'm like I stopped in the wrong moment. And I'm like, this is not gonna go away until I cross the finish line. I need to cross the finish line. And I need to trust. I need to trust the process. This grief recovery program was built in the eighties or something. Right? So it's time-tested.
Maha Bodhi: Over forty years. Yeah.
Maha Bodhi: I don't know, like, how many thousands and thousands of people have been, you know, went through the program and it's highly highly recommended. So I was just like, You know what? You have to trust to this and not trust your fear. They know what they're doing. Let's just finish it. And if it ever gets too scary, you could always stop. So then I finish it, and it's funny the moment I opened the book. It's like the only I read, like, flipped to the next state. Exactly. You should never do not send this letter to the person that you're, you know, mad with or grieving with or and I was like, okay. There's no confrontation. This is really more about me and my feelings and my grief, and my personal journey because really that's what it's always about. It's your relationship with yourself more than your relationship with other people. It's your relationship to the grief. It's your relationship to the pain, not the person that caused the pain. And so I did I finished it all the way to the end and I instantly instantly felt a weight lifted off my shoulder, off my that literally, that physical pain that I told you in my chest, in my arm. It was like, like, lifted, like, immediately. And I was like, oh my god. Why did I wait this long? Why did I not listen to Victoria?
Victoria Volk: It's never too soon. It's never too late.
Maha Bodhi: And just because, like, well, why did I kept torturing myself for this long? You know, and I'm very strong. I'm a very strong person. I think that didn't serve me because I'm like, I'm strong. I can handle this. I can do this. But there's no reason to suffer. There's no reason to power through this, and they talk about this in the book, like, if you have a cut, like, if you're hurt, are you gonna wait? Are you gonna, like, oh, next year, I'll deal with it. I'm like,
Victoria Volk: Let me just let me just let it let's just let it fester and ooze with bacteria first.
Speaker 1: I'm strong. I'm tough. I'm gonna tough it out versus, like, you immediately wanted to clean it up and you wanna nurture and intend to and allow it to heal in a way that it deserves to be healed.
Victoria Volk: Well, and thank you for sharing that because I didn't know that either. And so to have you share the testimonial of the process for you is beneficial for the listeners to hear. I do want to share that so I tried it alone too. I was just like you. However, I was not I wasn't as what's the word? I hadn't evolved myself and my growth to the point where you had been at the time that you did this on your own, for me to have this awareness of myself to do it on my own. I tried to do it on my own and I realized really quickly that I needed, one, the accountability because for exactly the reason you said, Yes. Because this and even in the program when I'm working with someone in person or online, I tell them you know, next week, you're not gonna wanna get on Zoom with me. You're not gonna wanna put your shoes on and get out the door. And I'm telling you, do it anyway because when you've already pulled off that scab. Right? And if you don't tend to that wound, this is when those old behaviors and these old patterns start to come back. And it can actually put you back in progress. Like, you can actually go even it's like when you lose fifty pounds and then you gain a hundred. Right? Because you fall off the wagon and you just give up on yourself. It's the same way in this work. And so I don't encourage anybody to do it on their own for those reasons. Because it can
Maha Bodhi: Of course. I agree. Yeah.
Victoria Volk: However, you're different. Everybody's different, but you are in a different place in your own evolution of where you were too. Yes. And you were you I know I feel in my heart that had you felt yourself stuck in that place that you would have reached out to me.
Maha Bodhi: Yeah. Yeah.
Victoria Volk: Or another grief recovery specialist that you could have finished that work with?
Maha Bodhi: Yeah. Absolutely. Yes.
Victoria Volk: So I think it's important for listeners to know, yes. Grab the book. Learn a lot because you will. You will learn a lot. But don't go into it, adamant, hell or high water, you're gonna do this yourself because you don't wanna set yourself up for, first of all, that disappointment. Right? And then there's shame in that too. Right? Gosh. Canning. I can't do this. I just I can't even heal. I can't even do this myself. Like, you know what I mean? Then that
Maha Bodhi: Absolutely. Yeah. Now it's it's absolutely better to do it with with another person for accountability. Also for perspective to things that maybe you can see sometimes we get too caught up in our pain, in our shame, like you said,
Victoria Volk: Can't see the label from inside the jar.
Maha Bodhi: Yeah. Exactly.
Victoria Volk: And for anyone listening to, it might be let's say you're in a household of people. Right? You live alone and not everybody lives alone. And so you might be afraid somebody might find your writings and things like that. Right? That can be a worry for some people. I actually just discovered an app. It's called day one, and it's for journaling with your voice. Okay. So for a lot of people, if they don't feel like they can just for the journaling piece. Right? Like, I don't suggest doing using day one to do this grief recovery work. But, I mean, if it helps you move forward and helps you get to a place where I can finally reach out for help. Right? Because sometimes we just need to realize, I can't do this alone. I do need support because that was me for over thirty years. Right? I got this. Like, I can do this myself. You know, the DIY or that was me. But so how has this work going through that process now and being on this side of it, which I really fully wholeheartedly believed eventually some day you would circle back to. Because that's what loss does. Right? It just kinda worms. Because I was even gonna ask you what loss like, what came up for you that would have been a better lead to the squad to you talking about that. But what losses came up after you lost Blake? But you just described that. But how has this work now? You mentioned briefly that it's influenced or maybe it was before we started recording. It's influenced your work and what you how you work with people today. But, yeah, what's happened for you since doing this? How does it change things for you?
Maha Bodhi: Change my yeah, definitely with the work that I do, you know, I lead teacher trainings and these teacher trainings are trends formational, and they're long, and they're challenging, and they're physically demanding, and it's a two hundred hour train, and you go throughout and you go through this journey of ups and down. Sometimes you feel triumphant and sometimes you feel like, oh my god, this is too hard. And it could get emotional and your grief can come up because the mind and the body are deeply connected and we just talked about how the emotions manifest as a physical sensation in the body. And with yoga, what happens is that when you hold the pose because of the nature of the practice, you hold the pose, for a little bit longer than you would do in a gym and other workout. And you're you're guided to be present in the pose. And to quiet the mind because it is a meditation first and foremost and we add the poses to the meditation. So a lot of people get it mixed, and it's just a workout. But if yoga is, first and foremost, the removal of the fluctuations that disturb the peace within the mind. That is the very definition of yoga according to Potentially in the yoga sutras. And so when yoga is taught, traditionally and properly, you're in the yoga pose and it's, yes, it's challenging. Some can be very challenging. And you hold the pose, for a minimum five breaths. And you're guided to breathe. You're guided to quiet the mind. And be present to the challenge and not escape the challenge, which is literally a rehearsal. That's why we call it a practice. Because it's a practice for how to live life. It's a practice of how to quiet down the mind and to be peaceful in the mind. And to be present in the heart and present in the body and present with the challenges and that's how you kind of cross that threshold because it it challenges you to go be a little bit beyond your edge. Right? And that's where growth happens. That's where transformation happens.
Maha Bodhi: And so I see people when they struggle, sometimes you see people break down and cry, especially if they have trauma, if they have unprocessed grief, and they're going through this journey. And there is this, they crying so sweet. They're like, I'm so sorry and I'm like, why are you apologizing? Like, there's nothing to apologize for. This is a beautiful opportunity for you to process what's being demand it to be released, that your body has been probably craving a moment like this, a moment of liberation of this energy that has been stuck for, God knows how long in your body. And this is the only time that you're able to be still enough and present enough and quiet enough for it to be released. So, cry. Go deeper into this pain. Don't run away. Don't apologize. Don't try to fix it, don't try to rush through it and just be with it.
Maha Bodhi: So literally what yoga is, it's like an embodiment, a process, kinda a metaphor for your whole life. And so that's the level of compassion and the level of understanding for me to recognize brief in others to recognize pain in others. And I know you know this. That loss is not always just loss of, death loss. So many things are considered lost, a grief of even just a dream you had, a potential that you thought is gonna be your future, and then it disappeared. That's a loss. That's a great losing a job is, you have to grief that. Losing that relationship. Even if it's a brief small relationship, it's the dream behind the relationship. That that's what you're grieving. So it can it can be so many different things and that just deepened my level of understanding of grief in that. And before that, before this experience that I had, I would probably be like, hey, you can do this, like, just breathe through it. Let's you know, you're stronger than you think you are because I'm such a motivational, inspirational person, but now I'm like b with this. Be present with this. I'm right here. I'm not running away. I'm gonna be here, and that's okay. And I and I think that's in a much healthier way. And like we talked about the balance of, yes, the lightness and also the darkness. And we wanna honor the darkness just as much as we're honoring the lightness. And you see that symbol, I love it because it explains everything. Right? It's the yin, the yang, the lightness, and the darkness. But within the darkness, right, there's a little bit of light. And within the light, there's a little bit of darkness. That it all belongs and it's all part of the holistic experience, the holistic human journey. And once we understand that and we embrace that and we accept that as a whole. Really your life experience, the way you navigate through life, becomes way more graceful, way more peaceful, because you're no longer grinding, you're no longer hustling, any fix it mode, trying to change the world around you, and you're literally flowing with the current. Right? Like, paddling down a canoe down the river and you're letting that river kind of carry you through and you're just in it for the ride. Yes, you're navigating. Yes, you're choosing where you're going. But you're literally trusting the current of life.
Victoria Volk: Trusting the current of life. I love that. Yeah. We have really difficult time trusting. Right? Trusting ourselves. And so we have a difficult time trusting others and trusting the process. Right? of of
Maha Bodhi: But that's the level of them. It's always trying to some. And the truth, it's like so useless because that's the energy that's just being consumed and depleted and drained and really use useless way of using your mind, using your brain. It says that, like, the most sophisticated technology in the entire universe exists in your brain. Right? And no one gave you the manual. And everyone is using their brain in wrong. It's so sad, but everyone is using their brain wrong, solve it, solve it, solve it. How can I fix it? How can I control the world around me? You cannot control the world around. People are gonna die, your heart is gonna get broken, bad, things are gonna happen, and good things are gonna happen and then you're gonna grow and you're gonna be stronger and you're gonna succeed and you're gonna laugh and you're gonna love and you're gonna be all these things are part of the human experience, but you trying to control it is a waste of energy is a waste of time. But being present for the experience and seeing what's unfolding in front of you and then participating in this unfolding whether it's positive or negative I'm not checked out. I'm going to participate. I'm here for it all.
Victoria Volk: And there are tools to help you do that.
Maha Bodhi: Absolutely. Yes. And I know you have you know your your grief program. I have my yoga program, and it's not one size fits on. They're all these they're multiple tools and yeah. I'm a yoga teacher, but I need a grief recovery coach. I need an end-of-life doula too. Like, you need different things for different experiences that you have in your life. And there's plenty of that. We are so fortunate to live in this day and age where we have, you know, access to resources and information.
Victoria Volk: And so please share with my listeners some of your tools and where can people find you and work with you. When you got cooking.
Maha Bodhi: I can
Victoria Volk: know you got something to know better.
Maha Bodhi: I will say that the most, like, in-depth and premier experience that you can have with me is my yoga teacher training. My yoga school was accepted by Yoga Alliance under elevated standard. It was unprecedented. They're, like, a yoga they were, like, this is the fastest that we've ever accepted a yoga school. I put so much thought and so much work into it. And it's really the work of my entire life that led me to this moment. So all the pain, all the grief, all the growth and all the strength that I accumulated in all the education throughout my life. And I truly believe that this is my offering to the world and this is the reason why I am here in the world is to teach the science of yoga, which is a science of how to be in the world. So it doesn't really matter if you wanna be a yoga instructor, It's a way to help you, like we talked about, navigate through life with more of a embrace, and you literally take your power back, you take your mind back, you take, control of your not external environment, your internal environment.
Victoria Volk: So where can people find you to learn that?
Maha Bodhi: Yogimaha.com. It's my website. All my events are there. So my teacher training, the dates, all the details, how you can sign up, is there I lead yoga retreats, from time to time. So if there's any upcoming retreats, you're gonna see it on my website. I'm on social media, @yogimaha108, so you can follow me on Instagram, on Facebook. Yeah.
Victoria Volk: Thank you so much for sharing everything that you've shared today. And I loved this follow-up in this part too. I think it was much needed. Because we can see, we can have this bird's eye view or this be the, like, the fly on the wall of a conversation of someone's life. But to see it in this stent. Right? Like, to see the I always wonder, like, sometimes when I hear a story, oh, I wonder what happened to so and so. And so I think it's important that we share the darkness in this light. Right? Because you had that in your first episode, but then life continues. Right? And it stuff gets are on our way and challenges happened. And so thank you for sharing about Blake and how that experience just really opened you up even more to this deepened learning and experience. So thank you.
Maha Bodhi: So honor Victoria. Thank you so much for having me, and I'm so glad we were able to have this follow-up.
Victoria Volk: Check out Maha's website, yogimaha.com. I'll put the links to everything in the show notes. And remember, when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. Much love.