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Gillian Florence

Mindfulness of death

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I thought I would add another category in this community to focus on mindfulness of grief, loss, and death. It is a difficult subject to broach, one that looks and feels differently depending upon what we are presently experiencing. For instance, we might meditate upon death differently if we are going through grief and loss as compared to times when we are not. Actually, perhaps the meditations would be the same but the experience of it different.

In any case, I am going to start a list of resources we can explore on the subject. Feel free to add your own, as well as your own reflections and insights on this topic:

Mindfulness of Grief with Sean Fargo (from a past Q&A call)

Acceptance of Death and Meaning of Life - Alan Watts

Meditation on Life and Death Worksheet

On Death - Ajahn Amaro

 

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For those interested in exploring mindfulness of death, there is a new blog post up on the ME blog that explores the topic and includes some practices:

https://mindfulnessexercises.com/how-to-practice-mindfulness-of-death-and-why-its-important/

I really enjoyed the conversation on this subject in Sean's Q&A call from a couple of weeks ago. If you missed it, you can find it here:

https://teach.mindfulnessexercises.com/02-03-21-sean-fargo-mindfulness-of-death/

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Hi Gillian - Thank you for starting this thread. I work as a Buddhist Chaplain and deal a lot with grief/loss. I've shared an article I wrote at the beginning of the pandemic. If it's not appropriate to share please feel free to delete. My intention is not to self-promote, but rather add the importance of holding the space of impermanence to this conversation.  Thank you again for this thread. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/a-buddhist-chaplain-shares-how-to-cope-with-the-pandemic/

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Hi Paula,

This is an absolutely welcomed shared. Thank you for it! And I am so sorry to read about the loss of your son in 2010. There are no words for this loss, none that I can type anyways. But, your story touched me very deeply, and what a gift you are now offering to others.

I felt a mixture of emotions reading your article. The story about the man who was not able to see his son one last time due to COVID sparked great sadness and anger in me. What strange times we are in. This anecdote reaffirmed that for me.

I am wondering - have you heard of Francis Weller? I came across this video of him a couple of months ago (see below) and it resonated so deeply. He speaks of all the different types of grief we can experience and some of them really hit home. 

Thank you for this gift you offer to the world. We truly need it.

 

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Gillian and Paula, Thank you both for starting and contributing to this topic. While I have known for many years that I never dealt with my father's death when I was 8 years old, it is just recently that I learned of the impact of this on my life. A counselor pointed out that people who do not grieve such a loss put a cap on their emotions. This, she said, keeps such people from really connecting with others' feelings. While my expereince is not so absolute, as a spiritual guide/relationship coach I do think I am aware of others' feelings, I do think her words have some validity. I am exploring a way to release and be open, to grieve as is fitting at this time. Your words make a difference. Again, thank you. 

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Thank you for this open and touching sharing, Alan. I am very glad you are exploring how to work with grief at this time of your life. I am doing the same, but not for the loss of a particular person. There are other losses I am working with (some of what was referenced in Weller's video). In any case, I find this topic to be of immense importance. Grateful for all those doing work with this, either personally or professionally.

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It's so timely that this topic has surfaced at this time when the veil between worlds is thin. The ritual of creating an altar to honor those who have passed is a comfort to me.

This time of year brings great joy and sadness to me as it is the anniversary of the birth of my son who died at age 2, my own birthday and the birthday of my oldest daughter. I also recently lost a dear nephew to tragic circumstances and have been navigating this with my sister as well as experiencing the depths of my own grief. I find it such a fascinating and shocking process. Even though it has been many years since the death of my son, the grief is sometimes so raw and feels brand new. I have found it helpful to sit with these  feelings when they arise and believe this practice has helped me to  be present with others in this dance we call grief

 

 

Molley

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Molley,

Thank you for this touching, vulnerable, and deeply human sharing. I am so sorry to hear of the losses of your son and your nephew. I have no good words but to say my heart goes out to you and your family. What a beyond difficult time this must be.

Grief is indeed a mysterious process with many phases that are not linear and that we can circle back through at any moment. I am glad to hear that sitting with your feelings has been helpful for you - and that it has enabled you to be present with others in this way as well. 

Sending you much love,

Gillian

 

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Thanks Folks, for posting these resources; I can add that during Holidays re-arises those feelings of Loss...what works in conjunction is to recall ways we celebrated as a Family to recall positive Family events, and to admit, anything that comes up in the present moment, feelings as well. For me, it is Family celebrations we had, smells of finest meals, Special Homemade deserts, and all, too....what habits & or Stories that were brought to the Dinner table...

For instance, I had an Uncle who was an avid Boston Red Sox fan who gave me my First Baseball glove as a Child, which lasted for many years...this same Uncle was buried with a Boston Red Sox Cap resting on his chest in the Casket which deemed his Loyalty to his team; in his ripe old age, he was bragging to me at another Family Funeral that he actually wore a Red Sox T-Shirt under his overcoat, which made me chuckle at such a solemn event.:)....even now makes me smile! These are ways that helps to me to deal with Holiday Stressors.

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Thank you for sharing all of this Rick. The holidays can be a difficult time for many - generally speaking absolutely, but also given the circumstances we find ourselves in re: the pandemic. 

What you've wrote here prompts me to share a new blog post that was just added to the Mindfulness Exercises website. Hopefully it is helpful for some who are experiencing stress or difficult emotions during this time of year:

9 Mindfulness Tips for Holiday Stress

 

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