Holding Hands With the Dying

 

1354 Relax and Succeed - Holding Hands with the DyingWhen I do it, it’s usually for a client. But not that long ago I helped a dear friend die. The way it happened we didn’t have a lot of time, but enough to have a couple really beautiful heart to hearts.

Like many sick people, he liked that I didn’t have a hyper cautious or maudlin way about me. Unlike many, he loved the world the way it was. He wasn’t interested in overextended expressions of sympathy. He was in a state of acceptance and he wanted connection.

Dying is new for each new ego. Having someone there to hold our hands in a particularly profound (even if not physical) sense can make that journey less daunting and more wondrous. Due to preparation, we didn’t have much ‘daunting’ stuff to deal with then, but we did talk about awe, which can feel similar.

I’d met this friend as a student of these classes, so our flow of language was very helpful. We had some terminology for some pretty nebulous things and at that time that really helped. He had always been eager and diligent and he made the most of everything I shared with him. Anyone who knew him considered him a lightning rod for energy and enthusiasm.

He was very kind and generous with his words and he was extremely forgiving as well. By the time he’d died he had the ability to extend all of those qualities to himself too. That too is a beautiful thing. With no history to slay or lost future to hope for, we stayed present and talked about the journey he was on.

Part of that included discussions about potentially embarrassing physical issues and hospital life, but almost all of it was about the wonder of a lifetime and the wonder of death as well.

1354 Relax and Succeed - Even through death

 

We discussed the fact that he didn’t have to worry about dying itself. Death had plenty of experience and it was in charge. Mostly we talked about how marvellous his life –ugliest warts and all– had been. And how exciting the next mysterious step was.

The joy he felt in looking at his life in that non-judgmental way was so incredibly beautiful to behold that it still stirs me deeply. Even his anxious excitement about death felt more like someone breathing deeply before stepping onto a stage for the first time.

It was difficult knowing that so many people in that building were facing a similar fate, and yet so many are often scared and alone –if not in the physical sense, at least in the spiritual sense.

Several times I’ve overheard the loving visitors of other patients struggle so hard with gigantic emotions that they would end up unwittingly saying things that felt as wrong to the speaker as they did to the listener. Presence must be practiced. It’s a form of psychological balance.

If it wasn’t such a personal moment between them I almost wish I could have comforted the dying person afterwards. There were ways to do that and help contextualize the visitor’s innocent mistake.

1354 Relax and Succeed - Everybody wants to go to heaven

Hearing those people struggle makes me look forward to the day when –instead of someone calling me for help with a family member’s death– every family will know how to handle it with grace. That will be a victory for the dying as well.

My friend had a great life and a great death. Although I will say, I think he made one mistake in his clarity. He forgot that the people he left behind don’t live with his enlightened perspective, so his lack of a funeral gave everyone no way to close this chapter of our lives with an event.

I presume he didn’t do that because he was concerned it might be a maudlin gathering he would be asking people to participate in, but in that case he underestimated himself. Because through his influence, I feel quite confident that everyone who knew him would have learned enough from him to forgo grieving his loss in favour of celebrating his existence.

Learn from my friend. Don’t be afraid to die. Live fully instead. And work towards profound and non-judgmental self-love. Because in every moment we achieve it, we are winning at life.

RIP Orest. I love you.

peace, s

Accepting Yourself

1354 Relax and Succeed - We can't show others

Much like the ‘hide your light’ quote from Marianne Williamson is often attributed to Nelson Mandela, this poem is also often mis-attributed to Charlie Chaplin. In fact it has a strange and convoluted history that makes noting its authors complex.

It started as a portion of a book titled When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim and Alison McMillen, but it was later translated into Portuguese, and then the Portuguese version was re-translated back into English by someone or combination of people. That change included the usual shifts that go with translation plus some actual re-writing.

In the end, it’s a collective offering, and a student of mine said a wise thing when she sent it with the note that she felt it was my class presented as a poem. If what I do when I work with people is to teach them to swim, then this poem is like reading about swimming.

 

As I began to love myself
I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living
against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is Authenticity.

As I began to love myself
I understood how much it can offend somebody
if I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right
and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call this Respect.

As I began to love myself
I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything
that surrounded me
was inviting me to grow.
Today I call this Maturity.

As I began to love myself
I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call this Self-Confidence.

As I began to love myself
I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects
for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness,
things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way
and in my own rhythm.
Today I call this Simplicity.

As I began to love myself
I freed myself of anything
that is no good for my health –
food, people, things, situations,
and everything that drew me down
and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is Love of Oneself.

As I began to love myself
I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since
I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is Modesty.

As I began to love myself
I refused to go on living in the past
and worrying about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment,
where everything is happening.
Today I live each day,
day by day,
and I call it Fulfillment.

As I began to love myself
I recognized
that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart,
my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.

We no longer need to fear arguments,
confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide,
and out of their crashing, new worlds are born.
Today I know: This is Life!

I haven’t read the book, but it based on this small excerpt, even if the original was altered, it looks like it may be a worthwhile book for kids. Even for adults, sticking it up on a bathroom mirror for daily perusal might not be a bad idea, because even a poem this good can only help us if we stay conscious of what it says.

peace, s

Seeing Ourselves Without Judgment

1351 Relax and Succeed - Can you look without the voice in your head

Most Earthly communications toward either God or The Universe are generally requests. Desires to have a desire filled, the desire to have a question answered, or the desire to know something, or for something to begin or end. And the reason we can do that and not feel better is because, as the Buddhists note, desire is at the heart of suffering.

Whether we imagine a forgiving God or in a scientific but infinite universe, each of those at its heart features an awesome force that extends everywhere and includes everything. Most importantly to us as people; the lack of judgment is the same. It –God or the Universe– simply is. But it does not judge. (Egos do all of the judging for the universe.)

People who tilt toward the less religious and less scientific doorways into wisdom are often into secular spirituality, and that often leads them to be familiar with Esther Hicks.

As Esther describes it, her wisdom comes to her through a council of non-physical entities she refers to as Abraham. If we’re more on the scientific side and think that idea is crazy, we should remind ourselves that a Nobel Prize was won by a famous mathematician who got those award-winning formulas ‘from aliens.’

Whether the source is real, the result of a disorder, or or even a charlatan, we should care more about whether it’s good information than what the source is. In fact, many of the problems in society today stem from our desire to always trust some sources and never others. In reality we would be better to ignore making blanket choices based on what group we’re in and we should look at each piece of information on its own merits.

Whatever her ‘source’ is, Esther generally shares the same wisdom this blog does. But that’s not why I mention her.

She talks of ‘the council’ when referring to ‘Abraham.’ She describes them as a group of timeless, energy-based entities that not only completely lack judgment, they offer only love. Even if we don’t believe Esther or those notions, let us imagine such a council overlooking our own lives anyway.

1351 Relax and Succeed - I shall tell you a secret

Remember: ‘the council’ does not judge, it represents God and the Universe. They understand everything so well that everything makes sense to them. Rather that our lives looking like failures and successes or problems and solutions, they simply see rippling, beautiful water, off which our light sparkles and glows. And it makes them love us all the more.

Imagine them. They’re looking at you right now. They aren’t bothered by how much you weigh, or what you think, or what you do. They don’t care if you got drunk last night, or went back to an ex you ‘shouldn’t have.’ Even the things we can self-hate ourselves the most for –they love us for those parts too. To them it’s just water dancing. They love you. Unconditionally.

Now imagine you from their perspective. Imagine you at this moment, knowing what you’re internal ‘issues’ and external ‘problems’ are. But you have no judgment. You just see yourself like an ant in an ant-farm. You can’t see the thoughts, you just see the actions. You’re just watching without expectation or judgment. Can you see how earnestly engaging with this perspective changes how we view ourselves?

When we do this well, we can see that our dramas are in our heads and not in our lives. From ‘The Council’s’ perspective, they don’t see us as procrastinating or letting anyone down or failing, because we/they have no expectations. We are then just either working, surfing the web, masturbating, or looking in the fridge again. They understand that those actions are what the people we are being in that moment truly want for ourselves.

They know we want that because we are always free. No one controls our minds or bodies except us, we just sometimes use our freedom really blindly. This is why there can be value in checking in with our personal ‘Council’ every now and again so we can look down on our little lives and see them for what they really are.

Doing this well is really quite comforting, although you may find yourself often feeling silly about your dramas when you see them like an observer. But humility only comes through freedom, so even that is a good sign.

Each time we’re faced with a choice about what to do, we can imagine our own council watching us. Is what we’re doing what makes sense for our life, or is it merely an unconscious habit? Our council won’t judge us, but it will see our actions for what they are, whether we’re moving our life’s pursuits forward or backward.

We are simultaneously insignificant and infinite. Either way, either our problems are either too tiny to matter to God or the Universe; or those two things are so infinite that either can easily absorb our mistakes. Either way we can relax. And then we can succeed. Because the way this page got its name was that I noticed that everyone got those two backwards. They always think the success leads to the relaxation, when in reality it’s the relaxation that leads to the success.

Now go love your day.

peace. s