By Richard West
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Death – it comes to us all. We all know this, but how many of us have really explored our deaths?
What I’m about to say may shock you – but in many ways, those who get some advanced warning of their deaths through terminal prognosis – they are the lucky ones! Of course many of you in this situation will definitely not be feeling lucky and I completely understand. A life shattered, knowing that it will all come to an end so soon, can be one of the hardest things for a person to deal with. But let me explain why these people are ‘lucky’. It’s not because of the suffering they may go through, but because of the tremendous opportunity they have.
Death as an opportunity
Going through life we hit many small ‘deaths’ along the way. Loss of loved ones, relationships and jobs, and more profoundly, loss of health, abilities and identities. Even if these things are only temporary, they provide a great opportunity for exploration of dying, in which we will ultimately lose all of these things.
Many people expect that if they manipulate some outer circumstance, for example dying at home surrounded by family and friends, then they will have a beautiful death. But if you’re life was one of holding on, to things, people, or roles such as being a parent, then death will magnify this tenfold. Even if your life was one of giving and caring, if this was motivated by a subtle need to boost your self-esteem, if you clung to the notion of yourself as a ‘caring’ person, then your death will also be a clinging. What matters when dying consciously is what is going on inside. Then the outside world will reflect that which is in you.
So, those who are in the position of knowing that their death is coming soon, will be going through many stages as they process all of what dying means for them. It is these stages of the dying process that provide us with the opportunity. They are opportunities to look at ourselves – all of our deeply unconscious fears will be bubbling to the surface. We can use this as an opportunity to heal a lifetimes worth of pain and suffering that we couldn’t quite go beyond before because it was buried too deep. We can use them as an opportunity for deep healing.
Death as healing
“If there is a single definition of healing, it is to enter with mercy and awareness those pains, mental and physical, from which we have withdrawn in judgement and dismay.” – Stephen Levine
Death presents us with the ultimate healing opportunity. If we can look into the darkest aspects of our being with compassion, and learn to let go of anything that is holding us back or no longer serving us or those around us, then we will already be coming ‘back to the source’ of our own being – from there dying is simply like taking a well-trodden path to a new destination.
What are the benefits of dying consciously?
Why go to all this hassle of digging down into all the muddy bits of your being? There are of course plenty of ways of avoiding pain and suffering. Entertainment is enticing. It is a method we have used our entire lives as society surrounds us with it and pushes it on us. Medications work wonders but many of them do so at the price of consciousness – essentially they hold you in a bubble of consciousness, numbing anything that gets pushed outside the bubble, such reception to pain and emotions, but also intuition, creativity and thought processing among other possible things.
If your pain is looked at in a conscious way – that is non-avoiding, compassionate, non-judgemental, but also with respect for where it has come from – then you connect with parts of you that have been distorted, healing them and becoming whole. This also has a ripple effect into the outside world and many relationships can be healed between loved ones.
Some of the benefits of practicing Conscious Dying include:
• Expanding through physical pain – non-identification with the body
• Flowing through each stage of grief and of death with relative ease and coming out the other side with a fresh perspective – non-identification with emotions
• Releasing attachments that hold you back and embracing your source energy
• Healing relationships with loved ones through forgiveness and finishing business
• An expansion of your being – opening up into the unknown
• Release of Karma which would otherwise draw you back to similar circumstances in future lives
Karma is the word that describes blockages that have built up over time. They are blockages in the flow of your soul attained through identification with the 3 lower planes of the physical, emotional and mental. As your soul is ever being drawn back to the source (oneness) it will be looking to release this Karma. In order to release Karma, you will draw circumstances in your life through the law of attraction which will cause you to confront those places in which you’ve become identified.
The dying process will likely bring most if not all of these identifications to light at some point. Conscious Dying helps you to confront these blockages and transcend them, making the dying process ‘smoother’. Of course if these blockages are not confronted it’s also OK. You will simply attract other circumstances in other lives. But why not use such an incredible opportunity when it comes? For a brief period, dying magnifies all of these attachments and makes them simpler (not necessarily easier) to work with.
Releasing Karma will mean that your soul can move on to other adventures after you pass on, instead of being drawn back to the same circumstances. It will put you ever more in harmony with the flow of your soul and the rest of the universe.
A choice to make
So, Conscious Dying is a choice. It’s a choice that only you can make. If there are pitfalls along the way (as there likely will be) it’s OK. There are no hard and fast answers, but you have all the time in the world – who says the work doesn’t continue after you’ve passed on? But, why not seize that opportunity while it’s there? Why not do what your soul is yearning to do? Why not begin today?
About the author:
Richard West is a carer, psychologist, spiritual facilitator and writer. He has worked close to death for 7 years and is passionate about helping people to move on in a conscious way, even though society is geared to fight against death. He is also a spiritual facilitator at Openhand. He offers services in Spiritual Facilitation and Conscious Dying on his website ‘Back to the Source’ and writes regular articles on his blog.