Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Tag: Death (Page 1 of 2)

How to Live and Die with Presence, Compassion & Grace

Letting Go w/ Love and Mindfulness | Terminal Illness

One of my readers asked me to write about living with terminal illness.

Since, I haven’t faced the shock of a terminal diagnosis myself, punishing rounds of treatment to forestall an ultimately incurable illness, or the emotional turbulence that insists upon coming along with a final prognosis, I wondered what I could write that wouldn’t seem intellectual, impersonal or trite.

At the same time, I think about impermanence often.  I’ve studied the Buddhist teachings on death and dying.  I’ve had moments I thought might be my last.  And I spent a year wavering around 84 pounds, not sure whether my weight would go up or down.

So perhaps something I share today may provide comfort, bring insight, or help you release attachment to this life, whether you are facing terminal illness or not. Because learning to let go is crucial to finding a deep abiding peace whatever your stage of life.

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Critical Choices on the Border of Life

What choices will you make due to life-threatening illness?

The common man whose identity is based on ego will do everything to live, but the spiritual man who is searching for truth, will take every opportunity to die. What does it mean to die? To die to one’s ignorance, to die to the ego, to die to fear, to die to suffering, to die to misconception, to die to judgements so they can really wake up to their timeless reality. – Mooji

Raw.  Vulnerable.  Honest.  Those words jump immediately into my mind when I attempt to describe the New York Times Bestseller, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

I rarely read books these days.  But this one traveled around my circle so I couldn’t miss it.  And, to be honest, I’m fascinated by death at the moment.

I want to know death in its stark reality so I can face it truthfully.  I want to know the myriad emotions that might arrive when death says hello – from fear to denial to great compassion to release from worldly concerns.  I want to know the gifts a prospective death promises to bring, at least to those who are willing to acknowledge and embrace it:  For example, the ability to embrace each moment fully with loving awareness.

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How to Let Go of Attachments and Find More Ease

Ocean - Letting Go of Attachments

Human beings face two causes of death: untimely death and death due to exhaustion of their natural life span.  Untimely death can be averted through the methods taught for prolonging life.  However, when the cause of death is the exhaustion of the natural life span, you are like a lamp which has run out of oil.  There is no way of averting death by cheating it; you have to get ready to go. – Padmasambhava

I know!  Death is probably the last thing you want to hear or think about.  But honestly, accepting impermanence and death is the best way to learn to live fully in each precious moment given to us.  That doesn’t mean dying will be easy, but it could be easier.

The ability to meet death with an open heart depends, however, upon letting go of all your attachments.

Yes, every single one!  You have to let go of everything when you die.  Your possessions, your relationships, your work, and your body all get left behind no matter how deeply you cherish them now.

Can you imagine that?

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How to Avoid the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

White Lily

In her best-selling memoir, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, Bronnie Ware shares 5 disappointments people commonly express as they near death. See if any of these ring true for you:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Do one or more of these fit for you?  Then you know where to begin to avoid last minute regrets. And it would be good to start now because it takes time to change habits.

However, your regrets may have an entirely different flavor.  Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until you’re dying to know what you’ll regret. Just take an honest look at your life right now.

If you died this very moment, what would you regret? 

Grab a piece of paper and jot down what immediately comes to mind.  Then sit with it for awhile.

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Are You Ready for Death to Arrive?

Autumn Leaves

Although we might prefer to ignore it, death is real and, often, it comes without warning.  It doesn’t matter your age, wealth, or health status.  You might be alive with this breath, and gone with the next. Or, you might suddenly be diagnosed with what is certain to be a protracted illness that ends in death.

Naturally, we all want to have a peaceful death, experience the least suffering possible in those final moments, and leave this earth with no regrets.  So doesn’t it makes sense to accept the inevitability of death, and prepare for it now by taking charge of your mind and affairs?

Take these four steps in the present so you will be able to meet death with greater ease.

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Step Into Uncertainty

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What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night.  It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.  – Crowfoot, April 1980, on his deathbed.

I have been waylaid for more than a month.  First, my back took a u-turn.  Then, a virus invaded my respiratory system. To protect me, my brilliant body created copious amounts of phlegm and its counterpart, the unending hacking cough. In her thoughtful hypervigilance, she seems to have forgotten to turn these off.

Life narrowed to bursts of work alternated with rest and multicolored moments of presence, embracing whatever happened to appear.

All this distress, and the temptation to wish it wasn’t so, made me wonder why we strive so eagerly for the illusion of a permanent happiness as if we actually have control.  Life unfolds our past karma – the result of our very own thoughts, words, and deeds – and so we never know what will come next until it surprisingly appears.  It might be joy or sorrow. It could be wellness or pain. Even death could unexpectedly follow this particular instant.

Don’t Wait for Happiness

Please don’t wait for happiness or imagine it’s right around the corner. Instead, find nourishment and truth in whatever circumstances arise. What awaits this body is the discomfort of disease, old age, and death.  The law of attraction people may decidedly protest, but have you ever seen anyone become immortal after reciting affirmations day in and day out?

When the time of death arrives, how exactly will this mind of mine respond?  Will I open to death’s naked reality or pull away in attachment or fear?  Will I rest in my heart or be embroiled in transitory thoughts and emotions that have little importance or reality?  This illness told me there’s far more mind training to be done if I wish to live with awareness and recognize whatever appears as its magical display.

I know the state of my mind will be all that matters at that watershed moment as I step from this life into the uncertainty of the next stage.  All the possessions I’ve accumulated and ordinary accomplishments will be left behind, irrelevant and meaningless like a handful of dust or a forgotten dream.

The  change and uncertainty that occurs at death is mimicked constantly in each moment that passes by.  Now’s the time to learn to be present and step into uncertainty with confidence and ease.  Then death will be nothing to fear.

Life lives in tiny moments, which exist right now.  When you die, will you have regrets because you didn’t live in this precious now?

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

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