Yogi Warrior: Death & Dying

A little while ago, we attended a 2-day workshop with our meditation teacher about “Spiritual Care in Death and Dying”. Some of you may ask why? Why indeed! Most of our lives are spent not really talking about death until it arrives at our doorstep. It may be a family member or a close friend taken ill suddenly, or after a slow decline. At that point we are left not knowing how to best manage all the emotions and experiences that arise, and sometimes not experiencing the emotions for many years. If we are truly honest, most of us feel that we would be ok in dealing with such an event – but deep down we may just be muddling through the emotions and even becoming numb in waiting for the situation to pass.

We have both experienced different emotions around the death of loved ones. From delayed feelings of emptiness, loss and grief, sadness and numbness often years after the event. And often overlooked is confusion and fear – even if we thought things were ok.

The only certain thing in life is that we will all die at some point – sounds pretty obvious and trite – but spectacularly overlooked as we scurry around attaching ourselves to this and that as if it will last forever – taking on opinions and ways of living as if that’s the way it should be – all the time – forever. This just makes us so uptight and stiff. We come to realize that we are mainly held together and smothered by self-infatuation.

So why don’t our elders tell us how we can live this life well, so that we can die well? Because that’s a good question isn’t it? Can we die well? After these two days looking into Death and Dying we believe it is possible. We all can start living our life in such a way that we can become well prepared for whatever our end brings us. This is such a big thing. There is nothing more heart churning than watching the suffering of another, and, coming in touch with our own. And perhaps in that, there is an opportunity for release and letting go.

As human beings we really don’t like discomfort. We will do all we can to avoid, avert, and resist feeling unpleasant physical sensations around the subject of death and our inevitable demise. There is so much denial, so we don’t have to get in touch with this issue. We cannot predict our death, which could happen at any point. It’s unpredictable. So we think, why worry about it? Well ok. We can only hope that we are just as relaxed when our time comes and that we can also support another in their time of need. But if we are honest we may see that we fear our own pain and struggle let alone helping another through theirs. Now this could be emotional pain and struggle or physical, either sucks. So how can we prepare?

Everyday we are faced with pain and struggle, it may not be extreme, but there are constantly little things that don’t go our way, we don’t get what we want and we become frustrated, irritated, annoyed, disappointed at ourselves and those around us. We may experience physical pain or unpleasant sensations from the emotions just mentioned, and this is not too dissimilar to when our bodies start to get sick or an unexpected virus invades our body.

After listening to two palliative nurses talk in depth about this subject, we begin to see that our everyday life undergoes similar experiences and similar emotions and discomforts that are present around the death of the body. It makes sense that if we can start to work daily with what we experience this will inevitably lay the groundwork for the struggle that may come when we pass.

As we get closer to the end there may be regret, guilt for actions we have taken in the past, maybe forgiveness is needed not only of others but also of ourselves. Is this really something we want to be managing at the end, don’t we have enough to manage at that point? And besides don’t we want to be at peace within ourselves at that point.

Try and recollect what happens when you wake up in the middle of the night perhaps to go to the bathroom and then your mind just won’t settle down after that. We may want to reflect how restless our minds are now let alone when we are facing our mortality. So perhaps we can take up some Yoga or Qigong or meditation and perhaps begin to relax and breathe out a little more?

So here it is, if there are bridges that have been broken between friends and family that you feel need to be rebuilt, then rebuild them. If there is forgiveness needed start with yourself, then maybe you can forgive others. If there is regret and guilt, work with self-compassion, maybe the choices you made at the time were not with awareness. Forgive yourself if you realize you just didn’t know what you were doing. Make peace with those around you, this may not happen quickly but consciously making the choice to start will have a dramatic effect. It is said that nothing weighs down the heart more that remorse and regret.

Start to live life with awareness by being honest with yourself and others, don’t knowingly harm yourself or others, be kind and grateful for this wonderful life we have and be careful with intoxication, yep that’s right – having one to many can create the platform for words and actions that we can regret in the morning and take us a long way from peace of mind and a settled heart.

Coming to the end of this body’s life, needn’t be full of regret and unresolved issues. Start today, pick up the phone, be kind to yourself, be grateful, just one step at a time, one day at a time we can begin the journey to support the only thing that is certain – our death.

What an exciting, challenging, rewarding journey to begin.

Reflection:

When was the last time you said thank you for the fact that you actually woke up this morning – why was making it through the night a given? ‘Well there’s nothing wrong with me so why shouldn’t I wake up tomorrow and the day after?’ Quietly this is how we keep living until one-day we realise that we have made no preparation – and we spent such a long time avoiding this obvious truth – everything changes – we just cannot predict the end – we live as if we are just going to keep living for as long as we want, in the way that we want.

So just sit quietly for a moment as you are and become still. Connect to your heart, and try and get a sense of this wonderful life that we have. Yes it can be tough at times, and often we get so wrapped up, but… it might just actually be… that getting here was the really hard work… and we carried out that work with so much joy and compassion in our hearts for others, and ourselves, that we get a shot at doing it again?

Such a beautiful mystery. So what do you want to do with it?

Relax into your heart and repeat

Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou…