Thinking about Dying

In the famous words of the Flaming Lips, "Everyone you know, someday, will die."

This piece of information is nothing new, profound, or shocking, but at the same time it's also pretty easy to avoid thinking about. As humans we are extremely attached to things in general and especially people in our lives. And we're attached to living.

But why? Is it because we don't know what it's like to be dead? Well, believers in reincarnation would say that we do know what it's like to be dead and that's why we want to avoid it. Dying, that is. Because through dying we will make our way to being born again? And doing this all over again? Does it boil down to a fear of the unknown? Or is it simply that we're extremely into living—the act of being alive is so tangible, so present that we cannot detach ourselves from its grasp?

I don't have any answers as to the particulars of our attachment to life and avoidance of death. But I think that one way to approach this fear is by thinking about it. A lot. I've started trying to spend a few moments everyday thinking about the fact that I will die. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in fifty years. I don't think it's morbid or scary—I think it's realistic.

And then on top of that, I try think about the fact that "everyone I know, someday, will die."
That includes Mom, Dad, Shannon, Logan, Tim, Colleen, Laura, and on and on...

This mind training can be associated with many of the concepts we work on in the yoga path—impermanence, perspective, attachment/detachment, present moment, mindfulness, fear, suffering—and I like to consider it just another of the useful tools I picked up along the way. If you have a meditation practice, maybe consider using the first moment or two to commit to the idea that you will die. And then that your parents and siblings and children and lovers will all die too. You could also do it just before you go into Savasana or maybe as you blank out on the tram or when you wake up in the morning. Maybe by exploring the fear that surrounds your ideas about death you can enjoy a level of peace around death that was never present before. Or maybe not, and then you have something to work toward.

Listen to Do you Realize by The Flaming Lips on youtube