How to Meditate, How to Die
Of all the footprints, that of the elephant is supreme. Similarly, of all mindfulness meditation, that on death is supreme – The historical Buddha
Death is Certain, Meditate On This
Today I found out that a dear friend, Shira Shaiman, had lost her 4-year wrestling-match with death. In the end, this strong, resilient, and beautiful woman succumbed to cancer. She leaves behind a wonderful husband and two young sons, ages 7 and 4. But more than that, she leaves behind a powerful reminder to all of us; meditate on death. Death is certain, yet the time, hour, and circumstances of one’s death remain a mystery.
Why Meditate On Death?
In a previous post, How to Meditate, How to Die – Part 3: Meditate on Death…, I wrote a great deal on why the meditation on death can be such a powerful tool. In fact, if you haven’t read that post, check it out.
Death is a powerful reminder to remain in the present. It summons us to be present and aware in all that we do, to be our best, to find closure with those with whom we disagree, and to practice keeping a mind that isn’t distracted by the worries and preoccupations of daily life.
Whenever I start getting too caught up in the soap opera of my daily life, I come back to this one thought and it pulls me back into the present like a rubber-band snapping me back into a state of alertness and awareness. The thought is this:
If I were to die right now, is this the mind that I’d want to greet my death with? If so, remain that way. If not, what mind is it?
It’s a powerful meditation because it reminds me to remain in the present by using the uncertainty of the hour and time of death as an anchor for my meditation.
More On Meditation and Death
I’m going to leave it at that. There’s more to be said about how we can use the thought of death and dying as a the source of a powerful meditation practice. I’d encourage you to check out these other posts:
- How to Meditate: Pretend that You’re Dying
- How to Meditate, How to Die: Even Famous Rappers Die
- Meditation and Compassion: Meditating on Suicide
And now, take a moment to think about those in your life who you’ve forgotten to say I’m sorry to, those who you’ve loved who have passed, or those in your life who bring you joy, and just remain in the moment, appreciating all that you have, without altering your mind, remaining free from distraction and appreciate who you are…right here…right now.
There is no guarantee that you’ve got any moment other than the present one to live, so live it fully, love fully, and do good deeds.
This site has tons of tools for learning how to meditate and be compassionate.
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