Understanding Grief and Love: Presenter Spotlight with Antonio Sausys
Please share what you do.
I work with grieving individuals using a somatic psychotherapeutic protocol to address grief symptoms. It enables the re-identification process that follows an important loss.
Why do you do what you do?
I learned through my own grief, related to the loss of my mother, that the body, the mind, and spirit are all affected by grief. Integrating them is crucial for grieving in a healthy way. The current field of thanatology lacks the necessary integration, but yoga truly helps grievers. Grief is the price we pay for attachment. By aiming to consider ‘detached attachment,’ I bridge the Western psychology model with yoga, and its philosophy of attachment and detachment.
What are you currently fascinated by in your work?
I’m always fascinated by yoga’s profound ability to help grievers re-define themselves after their identity has been shattered by loss. The new identity is often in a much deeper and more spiritual one. I’m also fascinated by how in times of grief, the veil that separates us from the Divine gives us an amazing opportunity to grow spiritually.
How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers?
When I was twenty years old, my mother died of a stroke. For two and a half years, I lived in a state of denial, completely disconnected from my feelings. When I was finally able to be with my pain, I discovered, to my astonishment, that my body had created an additional calcium deposit between one of my ribs and the breastbone — what the body will sometimes do in response to a fracture. In essence, what my mind had been hiding, my body showed with pristine clarity: I had a broken heart. I was studying humanistic psychology, and the experience showed me that talk therapy is not enough. Then I dove into somatic psychology. Along that path, I discovered yoga and engaged in a teacher training course.
What book(s) did you like reading this year?
For personal reading, I enjoyed Alice Miller’s The Drama of The Gifted Child. For professional reading, I always go to William Worden’s Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy. It’s a simple yet detailed roadmap for grief.
What is one surprising thing about teaching at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat?
I teach in various parts of the world and at vastly different settings, ranging from yoga studios to battered women shelters … from yoga therapy trainings to psychology conferences. Teaching at an ashram allows me to invite participants to immerse themselves in true yogic lifestyle. I personally resonate with Master Sivananda’s teachings, so it is a personal pleasure to meditate, chant and attend satsang in the Bahamas ashram. Plus, what is there not to like about the exuberant nature and pristine waters — an ideal setting for the development of one’s full potential!
Antonio Sausys is a somatic psychotherapist and yoga teacher specializing in one-on-one yoga therapy for people with chronic and acute medical and emotional conditions. The author of Yoga for Grief Relief and television host of YogiViews, he lectures and teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies, the University of California Berkeley, and College of Marin and has also developed a Yoga for Cancer program. Antonio was the founder and executive director of Yoga for Health, an international yoga therapy conference.