Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If I Should Die Before I Wake: Part One

"Dream as if you'll live forever.  Live as if you'll die today."  ~James Dean

First off, my only qualification as an expert on death is that I am alive, which means someday I will die.
I hope it is not a shocking insight that this is true of you as well.

Death. We all have a very intimate relationship with that word, that force, that reality. This relationship, like any in our lives, is probably complex and messy, and this one is (almost always) riddled with fear, resistance, pain, and denial. Unlike many events, people or things we relate to in life, when it comes to death we don't get to choose. We can't break up with death, can't kick it to the curb.

I live a yogic life, and yoga has a lot to offer into this relationship with death. Fear of death, or clinging to life, is cited as one of the sources of suffering that yoga aims to liberate us from. As my teacher Devarshi says, "We are infinite, eternal and whole, or not." Here is where we can find some choice in this matter. We have choices in how we can relate to death and how we live our lives. We can choose to live in denial or sense the preciousness of this life and dive into this chance to explore, to seek, to inquire. The question at the core of the matter is "Who am I?" "Who am I really?". (I will come back around to that in part 2.)

Are you living? Are you REALLY living? Do you sense a soul connection and fulfillment in the activities, vocations, and relationships you invest in? Have you said, as of this moment, all you need to say to the people that matter? Is there peace in your heart or is there resentment, anger, fear? Healing and forgiveness should be a high calling, not an afterthought, especially for ourselves.

 If today was your last day, what would need to be done? Who would you say "I love you." to?

 If you only had a year to live what would you delay no longer? What dreams would you finally invest in or relationships would you mend?

If you should die before you wake, would you be at peace?

Living with an active inquiry into and relationship with death can bring more life to this life.

I completed an extreme trail marathon this summer. The race shirt said on the back, "I realize that my participation in this event may result in injury or even death." For whatever reason, that shirt really got me to thinking. Wow! What if I did not make it through this? This brought all the questions listed above to bear upon me over the next few weeks.

What I realized is that although I have fear of death, I am quite content with who I am and what I have done in my life. I have had a lot of deep struggle, to the point of despair in periods of my life, but luckily I have been gifted with the time to work through things, and I have had deep awakenings and amazing opportunities. I have said yes to what lights me up; my marriage, my children, yoga, dance, spiritual seeking and teaching.

I used to be unsure of my worthiness. I felt like I had to prove to myself, and the world, my right to be. That still comes up sometimes, but in the last few years I feel I have outgrown that pattern quite a bit. I look at where I am, who I am, and feel so grateful because I am a living miracle. I have achieved more than I ever imagined possible at my lowest of lows, at the age of twenty, when my life was on a crash course with complete devastation. I have come so very far, through years of healing my depression and anxiety, and engaging in intense soul searching.

After the race, I realized that I do have peace in my heart. I endeavor to live each day fully and also mindfully. I have big dreams, huge dreams, but I am also full right now, complete.

I choose infinite, eternal and whole.
More on that in part 2.                

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