The Practice of Dying (Just a bit morbid, I promise)
I recently took an online yoga class with J Brown (I really recommend his live-stream subscription) and during Shavasana, he said something really interesting. As you might know, Shavasana is the Sanskrit word for saying Corpse Pose.
Practically, it is an exercise we do in dying.
In the West, we often conceive of death as the opposite of life, but in the Eastern tradition, death is often conceived of as the opposite of birth. Meaning, death is the end and birth is the beginning. And as the old saying goes: “Every end is the beginning of something new”.
This made me think about few things:
- Why do American Jews (like J Brown, hmm hmm) always need to talk so much, even while we are practicing dying here? (but that has nothing to do with this blog, so let’s just leave this question open)
- Why do we practice dying?
I cannot say that I know for sure that rebirth is the truth. After thinking about it for quite a while, I came to the conclusion, that this is the thing that makes the most sense to my own understanding.
I also came to the conclusion, that thinking that I can know the truth about what happens after death, would be a really stupid thing to think. It is completely delusional, and I practice in order to awaken from my delusions — not strengthen them.
Since you probably wonder, the main reason the idea of rebirth makes sense to me is that I can see in my own life and in nature, that nothing comes out of nothing. If no other thing seems to emerge out of the absolute void, and everything functions as a continuation of something, why would my own consciousness be different?
It also doesn’t make sense to me that my consciousness is just a side effect of my body, and when my body is gone, my mind will be gone as well.
It is kind of like saying that my mind is my brain, or that my mind is a product of my brain, but I tend to think that the two are kind of working in synergy with each other. My brain is not the boss of my mind, and my mind is not the boss of my brain either.
But what the fuck do I know?
Anyway, what I do know is that beginnings and endings are definitely things we experience all the time. And often, like any other birth and death, it hurts.
As I practice mindfulness, I have noticed, that death and birth are really everywhere . There is no one thing in my life that did not emerge out of its own causes and conditions and at some point, will transform into something entirely different, that may, or may not, have to do with my life.
So we need to practice dying, so it might not hurt as much.
Look at 2017, just gone. Before I even managed to do anything significant with my life, the time just passed by.
It also made me wonder about the passive nature of dying.
Birth is usually really loud and requires quite a lot of effort. But in order to die, at least in a yoga class, all you need to do it just to lay there.
So in this light, I can see even more how much dying, how much letting go, dissolving and vanishing is really needed in order to come to the point, where I can really see and evolve my mind.
I see Shavasana as the practice of just being in silence, enjoying the opportunity to just not do a thing, and just sink into relaxation.
Could we use this attitude when things in our life fall apart?
When we know for sure that the time has come, wouldn’t be great to be able to watch it happen without panicking? Instead of trying to force an action, a birth, we just let things go, just be there and observe.
I usually get angry at people (o.k, mostly at very specific German people) for being so passive. My Israeli “go-getter” just cannot handle their passive patience of “Life will just come to be, why bother to make an effort?” but maybe they do have a point?
Maybe there is a middle path between this two attitudes?
Maybe if we will stay awake enough, we can see when it is time to give birth, and when it is time to allow death to happen.
So on this note, I wish you a wonderful birth of 2018!
May you be happy and well, may you grow your inner compassion and wisdom without a limit, and may you will stay awake.