I simulated my own death this is what I learned

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the quaint town of Serenbe, Georgia, in order to contemplate my own mortality. Well, more specifically, I was invited to take part in the exciting-sounding "Forbidden Weekend: Sex, Drugs and Death" at The Inn At Serenbe. The event was hosted by Angel Grant and Michael Hebb, co-founders of Death by Dinner, an event designed to help people discuss their feelings and intentions about death with friends and family. (They're really cool, and you should check out how to host them.)

Our weekend starts at the end. On the first morning, after a nice swim, it was time to experience my own death simulation through a death meditation. The purpose of death meditation is to allow you to face your own death as if it were happening in real time so that you can better see your life. "Meditating on death is really about embracing life," meditation leader Grant tells Busy. "Death meditation is a fundamental part of my spiritual practice because it keeps the distance between my heart and my loved ones to a minimum. I remember that I don't want to be careless about time."

Of course, there are other ways you can face death—"When you're abandoned or fired, those are deaths, opportunities to practice letting go with an open mind," Grant says. "Death meditation is a gentler way to practice it." That's it.

How to do death meditation

For a coaching approach, Grant offers one-on-one death coaching to reduce anxiety about death. For over an hour, Grant's guided meditation led us to imagine that our bodies were shutting down bit by bit and that our blood was actually running cold. We were asked to imagine things like losing feeling in our limbs, having difficulty breathing, and feeling like our heart was slowing. It was pretty intense - but definitely informative.

You can also follow some of her questions below to set up your own session (hey, we all die alone, so this is appropriate). To confront these issues, Grant recommends "Start by sitting down for a brief meditation, just witnessing the rise of the body on the inhale and the descent of the body on the exhale. Focus on feeling each sensation that arises rather than trying to change any of them. Any. As you continue to focus on your breath, the body begins to soften and the engine of the mind loses steam."

You can lie down in corpse pose, perhaps covering yourself with a blanket to keep warm. Just like regular meditation, she adds, it doesn't matter how many times you get lost in thought during meditation; what matters is that it affects your thinking. What matters is how many times you choose to bring your awareness back to your breath.

7 questions to ask yourself when facing death

You can consider the following questions to guide you through your task. "Before you begin meditating, write down the following questions," says Grant. "After four to ten minutes of witnessing and feeling the breath happening in your body, sit down and ask questions and answer them without spending too much time thinking. Write down what comes first. Don't take more than four to five minutes per question. "

1. If I died today, what dreams or goals would I lose?

Grant suggests you also ask yourself, "What do you plan to do later when the conditions are right? How can you start these things now if your life isn't over now?"

When I think about this, I realize that my dreams and goals are less professional in nature and more based around creativity, relationships, and travel, so I should probably try to structure my life accordingly. Apparently, this is not an uncommon revelation. “If my daily life is filled with distractions, I’m likely to spend most of my time focusing on the big values ​​of our society—achieving, finding attractive, more and more of this and that Things weren't bad; they just weren't the most important thing when I was dying," Grant added. I expected to ultimately regret not writing a book, but imagining my own death, I discovered that what I cared about most was the loss of my dream of a future life filled with travel and love.

2. Who have I not forgiven?

Grant says you can also ask, "What resentments or resentments are taking up space inside of you? Are traumas or heartbreaks early in your life affecting the way you live your life now? Do you want to hold on to them?" Until you're on Earth Last minute? "

If the answer is that you feel bad about not forgiving someone, you can take small steps after meditation to start correcting it now. One woman I interviewed in Serembe said thinking about this issue prompted her to reconnect with her father.

3. If my life ended in one hour, what would I be most sad to miss?

If you sit and imagine the pain of this - that you really only have an hour left to live, and really try to think of it as reality - you can also try to sit with the pain of what you might not be able to experience. Feeling sad.

It's similar to the first question, except this one asks you to pay special attention to any sadness that arises. For me, the saddest thing is that I don't get to share more of my life with my current partner - in a way, that actually tells me that I'm on the right path. Rather than regretting the way I was living my life, I was eager to deepen what I was already doing. Likewise, I regret not traveling more, which again proves that I need to find a way to make this a priority in my life.

4. How do I stop love from entering my life?

In answering this question, I thought about some of the family members I have intentionally distanced myself from. Grant adds, "When has life offered you love in any form and you turned away? Why did you turn away? On your deathbed, did you feel at peace with those decisions?" Likewise, if the answer is No, you can take steps to start remediating it by reaching out or challenging yourself to accept love the next time someone offers it to you.

5. What do I want to be remembered for?

Grant suggests you also ask, "What are you doing in your life to create these memories for those around you?"

When I ask myself this question, I care more about being remembered as a caring person, a good friend, and an activist than as a great writer or editor, which is what I'm thinking about my life Goals are things that require the right attitude. How can I remember this every day instead of just thinking about what I “should” be doing?

6. What things in my life are unfinished?

Again, this is similar to questions one and three, but the point is that you feel like you have unfinished business.

While I do feel like writing a book is an unfinished business, again the only thing I feel really uneasy about is missing out on a future full of travel with my partner and maybe missing out on starting a family, or at least one A real home. Imagining myself in my last hour of life, I felt a sense of sadness that time was running out, which reaffirmed to me that my fear of death was rooted in a fear of missing out on more life, rather than a regret for living.

7. Who would I like to be with me as I die?

Grant asked: "Whose presence would make you feel more at peace in your last hours? Who do you need to say something to before you die?"

It was the only time I cried toward the end of my death meditation. I immediately imagined my partner holding my hand. What do I want to say? "Thank you, I love you. Thank you, I love you." That's all I have to say.

post effects

I can’t say that death meditation has cured my fear of death – if anything, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and facing the reality of death more directly. But simulating my own death did allow me to reexamine important choices I had to make recently and focus the meaning of my life. I also learned some comforting facts from meditation, like that your body releases dopamine before you die, making you feel better. As Grant encourages us to imagine, I am grateful that my body will be working until the very end to make me as comfortable as possible. But no matter what, meditation reminds us that there is no getting away from the fact that no one can die for us.

After all, death is life's prepaid calling card (or maybe it's the other way around). There's nothing I can do about it running out - but that's all the more reason to call my partner after my meditation is complete and tell him those last words while I'm still alive. Thank you and I love you.

Image: Pixabay; Jiffy