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

#YEG Secular Sunday Walks Begin

Please note, the schedule for the walks is that we now start at 11am, walk for  an hour and then anyone who wants to continue talking afterwards is welcome to stay afterwards to do so.

1330 Relax and Succeed - YEG Secular Sunday Walks Begin

Many people with no definable religion can still appreciate the value of communion with like-minded people. Sharing through silence or through words allows us to be together in a spiritual space that leaves us all feeling stronger and clearer for having experienced it. We can come alone, or we can plan to have friends join us too.

Even if you’re not here in Edmonton where I am, people can still find like-minded people to do this with. I recall a woman in Australia who met regularly with two friends. They would meet in a park where they would begin by reading a blog of mine, and then they would walk and discuss how they saw the principles in that blog come alive in their own lives. They all found it very helpful.

If you are in Edmonton, some of you may be former students, some may be people thinking of working with me that have questions, and still others might simply be people who want to spend more time with other people who are actively engaged in the act of increasing their awareness and controlling their over-thinking. And some might just like the idea of a pleasant walk outdoors (we’ll figure out a backup plan for rain).

It is a busy time of year, so maybe I’ll be alone. Maybe there will be lots of you. But the walk will be rewarding regardless. It will be a joy to be in nature, and nice to talk to or share silence with those present.

For those who would like to join others in a shared intention for the walk, I will give a brief talk before the walk starts. That way we can establish a shared focus for those who haven’t chosen one of their own. Other than that the walk will be about relaxing and opening up and sharing, so if you would like a regular dose of healthy peace and enlightening conversation, consider joining us.

Walks will commence on July 14th at 10am and will happen each successive Sunday until further notice. Note: this schedule has been changed since this post. The new information is below:

 

#YEG Secular Sunday Walks

11:00am-Noonish
Sundays

6750 – 88th Street
Argyll Community Hall

(Meet just south of the Japanese Garden)

Nearest Bus Stops: #2224 or #2531

I look forward to it.

peace. s

#YEG Secular Sundays Announced

1322 Relax and Succeed - In every walk with nature

I had previously noted that my schedule in caring for my parents leaves me with too little time to engage in nature with like-minded souls. In order to resolve this and simultaneously do something worthwhile in the world, I am experimenting with Secular Sundays, a way for the non-religious to still have a gathering for spiritual purposes, in the greatest temple ever created: nature.

Barring emergencies, the #YEG Secular Sunday Walks will commence in Edmonton, AB at 11am on Sunday July 7th. If you would like to know which path we’re walking any given week, please just drop me a note at scottis@relaxandsucceed.com.

Depending on how many of us there are, I may begin the walk with a brief talk. After that, people are welcome to walk with me to ask questions, and there may in fact be former students who’ve lived this way for some time who also can likely answer some questions. At the very least, everyone will be people who love the subject matter.

If you’re looking to grow spiritually, and if you want to get out, get some exercise but not be strained, and if you would like the company of others that have similar values regarding cooperation, compassion, empathy, respect and love, then this might be just the walking group for you.

peace, s