My 148-year-old rocker was waiting for me. I sat down and began to focus on my breath, feeling its familiar rising and falling to a count of six. Relaxed and comfortable, I continued in this way until time seemed non-existent. I began to recall impermanence and how it touches everything in the universe except Source. This means that all energy and matter follows a cycle of life evolving into death. Nothing is exempt. Strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, friends, and relatives came to mind. The last category hit a nerve, as one of my relatives is currently experiencing a health crisis. My breathing quickened and became shallow. Keeping the same inhale count, I lengthened my exhale to a count of eight, which usually relaxes my sympathetic system (fight or flight reflex). This small change seemed to help.
I remembered the cycle of life evolving into death demonstrated in the forming and crashing of waves, changing seasons, planting and harvesting the garden, letting go of beloved pets, and even regenerating my skin cells. I know life moves to death, and the cycle continues to repeat. These examples were substantiated by experience.
Suddenly, something in me became highly alert. The words, Nothing is exempt, resurfaced. Wait a minute—I’m personally involved. I am matter and energy. My death is certain. Actually, each day I get a bit closer to my unknown expiration date. My body, mind, emotions, and Ego will die. Quick breathing returned, accompanied by a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms. I felt sick. I heard an insistent voice.
Ego What is going on?
Higher Self I am thinking about my own life into death cycle, my death.
Ego Why are you doing that? It will only upset you.
Higher Self What you really mean is that thinking about death and dying upsets you because it leads to your demise.
Ego Well, I don’t know about that (I can’t admit to HS, that s/he is right!)
Higher Self Thinking about death and dying in the moment helps me to figure out what really matters for living and to make decisions that count. I can be myself.
Ego Decisions are up for grabs. If you don’t like something, just change your thinking. Besides, don’t you already know what matters? Trips, wealth, electronic devices, cars, boats, houses, travel, clothes—that’s what I say. The more, the merrier!
Higher Self By giving myself time and going inward, I discover what truly matters and let everything else simply “be.” The things you just named are “stuff” and they echo appearances, not who I truly am. Without attention, the “stuff” will have no meaning.
Ego That’s a huge leap—no longer focusing on things that have anchored decades of your life.
Higher Self Yes, but love, kindness, generosity and service hold a deeper meaning for me now. Becoming these characteristics defines my living.
Ego And what about me? Am I not important any longer?
Higher Self I appreciate your guidance regarding safety. Yet, as I age, I choose simplicity in all things and appreciate the clarity of “being” over “doing,” of fewer regrets, and of less fear in losing control. My direction is sure. I feel lighter and happier. I Am remerging with Source, knowing that my essence is well-cared for.
Ego I won’t be around, yet I admire your conviction.
As the awareness of being in my rocker returned, I realized that I had equated death with me. I felt slightly better, relieved that I had moved in the direction of thinking about death, saying “death” aloud, and exploring its meaning. I know that this is just the beginning of my dialogues. More questions need exploration. More wisdom is forthcoming. More acceptances are in store.
I am slowly realizing that I am more than my body, my mind, and my emotions. I Am the observer and what is observed all at once. My “being” affects the “being” of every thing. The rocker grounds me with love and support; its silent stories evoke warm memories. We are a lot alike, my rocker and I. We offer service in this plane, yet our essences radiate heart and care.
Contemplating my dying process and death is not a one-time experience. To create more awareness of Self, I return daily to learn greater understanding of this culmination of life, knowing that successive dialogues will be easier. Source gives me insights as I am ready to receive and digest them—all in divine order. I welcome these knowings and feel them with a full heart. Collectively, they are the vast unknown that I trust, beginning with the mysteries of arrival in and departure from this plane. Had I been aware of what birth would be like, I may not have chosen to participate. Yet, here I am, no worse for the adventure. Without resistance, hope unfolds. As in birth, death is a solitary proposition. People may surround me with great love, tenderness, and anticipation of the Beyond, yet I, alone, will make the journey. Opening my heart to death, little by little, I will continue to explore questions, being grateful for insights.
Inwardly speaking: Can you find examples of impermanence? This is Source’s way of showing you that death is part of the life of every thing. Death is neither bad nor good. It just is, a natural part of life. Say “death” and know that you don’t need to fight it.
© 2015 Barbara L. Krause