Introducing a straight-forward series of posts on the delicate topic of
Death and Dying.
I doubt anyone on this globe hasn’t been thinking of their own mortality. If fears of some disease taking hold and killing you and your loved ones didn’t get you, then the life-abolishing threat of nuclear war may very well have. But the subject of death is often deemed unsuitable for discussion and we are left alone with our anxieties.
Since Selfcare, at least the capital S kind, deals with all aspects of life and requires a commitment to facing challenging topics, I thought I would share some of my own explorations on the topic of death. Over a series of posts, I hope to get us all thinking in ways that might reduce or eliminate altogether the anxieties surrounding the 100% eventual loss of everything we ever thought we owned, knew or loved, ultimately including our own life.
Death is a Constant
I was listening to a fabulous satsang, or teaching, by Alan Watts in which he said, “Death is constant”. He’s not exaggerating. We die in every moment to the one that follows. And we are, for our entire lifespan, mysteriously reborn into the next moment. Sometimes, these moments pass with some fanfare and other times, we barely notice a difference. But this is the truth of our physical existence. Death isn’t some end-of-life event. It is happening now, and now. and now.
At least for me, this perspective seems to make the ultimate death somehow less important. It’s just one more little loss in a life that is actually full of such losses.
Look at it this way…
Can you imagine a tree that every Fall started to freak out the dropping of its leaves? This sad little neurotic tree would be giving itself so much anguish over something it had zero control over. It would dread the winter and the thought of all its branches exposed for the world to see. It is no less absurd that we fight against or even try to deny what is a very natural, unavoidable part of life.
A Recent Dream
A few weeks ago, I had a powerful dream. I was outside under a tree on a park bench with my sister. On the table was a plastic cup of some kind full of liquid starting to bubble and fizz. I told my sister we needed to move or back up or something. It kept heating up and went through the container but then it wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t flowing like liquid. It was burning like heat.
The dream scene changed to my old room but the bubble and fizz was still there boring through what surrounded slowly. I realized we needed to move everything out of the room. It was a process of deciding what mattered and what didn’t. We carried stuff out, but that light kept boring, like a white hole. Back and forth with notebooks, stamps, postcards, clothes…
I had a realization of the depth of the situation. That boring wasn’t going to stop. It would take the entire room, then eat away at the next and so on. I was credulous. I thought, “this can’t be happening.” I walked up to a mirror and could see my reflection in it. I said, “Wake up. You’re dreaming.” I lifted my hands to clap, but they were all foggy. I repeated the chant three times trying to clap.
I felt my body drop like a ghostly sack; I felt a second of fear and then felt myself faint from outside my body. In an instant, my consciousness came back to my sleeping body as I woke up.
Waking from the Dream
Maybe that’s all death really is…simply waking up somewhere else. Or, as Alan Watts put it, “Death might be how we wake up from the dream called life.”
Death is not only a constant; it is a certainty. The better we are at dying to moments, the easier it will be to face that final one. Our souls will simply slip out of these containers and that ineffable something that we are will suddenly be elsewhere, the dead self never-the-wiser and the new self ever wiser.
About the Author:
Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing Yoga, Mirror Meditation, E-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:
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