Death: A Meditation
In this article you will find:
Some words on death and what is has to offer to life.
A meditation with death you can do at home.
When I draw the Death card from the Major Arcana of the Tarot for a client, the reaction vary from an uncertain fear to laughter. The reactions are never neutral. Unless the exploding Tower is in the mix, Death, if on the table, is the first to draw anyone’s attention.
Yet, in day to day life, death seems elusive. If someone dies, their bodies are put on a cart and covered, staying in public space only for a few minutes as they are quickly carted from home / place of death into a black car and gone is the person that once was.
No wonder many of us become anxious. Death as a hidden thing holds more power than when we dare to face it directly. Perhaps, like me, you think of your own death often. I used to do this in a quiet way, getting nervous at all the possibilities I found myself imagining for the end of my life. The news never headlines the story, “They died peacefully in their sleep at old age.” There is a profitable preference for the headlines of sudden death, epidemics, the unexpected and the terrible.
Death also holds so many gifts that we tend to forget about.
For one, if we spend some quality time facing death and bringing its existence to the foreground of our minds, it holds less power as something to fear.
Not only that, but thinking about death can offer great insight into what the real priorities in our lives are. This is usually something only reserved for those who have realized their old age and that there is only a limited amount of time in their lives. You can read “Aging as a Spiritual Practice” by Lewis Richmond for more insight on this.
When we face our own mortality head on, we get the chance to check if we are truly living our lives the way we want. What dreams are there still left to fulfill? How do I spend this moment if the next moment could be my last? How do I spend every moment if I feel it as my last? When I think of this I usually end up smiling and if people are around they return my smile.
I also feel a lightness and when I take clients through a meditative journey where they get to experience their own death, they always return with that same lightness. The grass is suddenly greener on this side, in this moment, and there is a clarity and presence that comes to life.
Death has become one of my most powerful teachers on how to live and how to make the most out of every moment I have. Not in the past, not in the future, but now, in this breath I am taking, with these words I am pouring out with love. I have made some of the bravest decisions of my life when I have confronted myself with its fleeting nature.
Here is a meditation I like to do. It is simple and you can easily try this at home.
Sit in a quiet space. I like to play some relaxing music. Currently my favorite music for meditation is the album “Chinese Traditional Zheng Music” by Hong Ting.
The morning hours are a wonderful time to do this practice.
Sit on a chair or the floor. Ideally your back is straight to allow the flow of breath.
As you breathe, take a moment to notice all your senses.
What do you see?
What do you taste?
What do you smell?
What do you hear?
What do you touch?
Scan your body and notice how it feels as you come to your center, the point where all your senses meet.
Bring your awareness to your breath. Become aware of breath as the movement towards death. Each breath you take brings you closer to death. If any thoughts, sensations or emotions arise as you do this, just notice and continue breathing, keeping the focus on the breath.
Breathing deeply, now notice how with every inhale you draw life inwards and with every exhale you release it. Notice every exhalation as a small death and every inhale as a small birth. If any thoughts, sensations or emotions arise as you do this, just notice and continue breathing, keeping the focus on the breath.
Breathing deeply, become so aware of the breath that nothing else exists but the breath, moving in and out in a vertical line in your body. Feel time itself become this vertical line. We tend to think of time as horizontal, with our lives having a beginning, middle and inevitable end. Feel how when there is nothing but breath and the vertical line it moves in, you enter into an infinite moment where everything is possible.
Feel every breath as a fresh opportunity.
Begin your day.
I leave you with a quote from the film “Ghost Dog.”
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