A Death Bell Tolled…

Several years ago, when I was leading weekly healing circles in Ashland, Oregon, in the Autumn when the leaves were decaying on the Earth I got stuck on the theme of death for many weeks. After about six weeks of readings and meditations on death, those who attended the circles began to wonder if I would ever stop talking about death!

In the Northern Hemisphere now, the trees are growing more bare each moment. As I write, the wind is swirling dried brown leaves through the air outside my window. The cold white sky invites me to turn inward and to contemplate reality. It seems that just yesterday the trees were filled with bright green leaves, but now they are emptying, like we all will have to do when our death time arrives.

Recently I came across my youngest brother’s college textbook, The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying, and I skimmed it to find a few jewels. Today I will share one… When describing the death rituals in America in the nineteenth century, the authors (DeSpelder and Strickland) say that in close-knit communities, a death bell tolled the age of the deceased, to notify the people. I found this totally fascinating:

“You can feel the silence pass over the community as all activity is stopped and the number of rings is counted. One, two, three — it must be the Myer’s baby that has the fever. No, it’s still tolling — four, five, six. There is another pause at twenty — could that be Molly Shields? Her baby is due at any time now — no, it’s still tolling. Will it never stop? Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, another pause — who? It couldn’t be Ben; he was here just yesterday; said he was feeling fit as a fiddle — no, it’s starting again. Seventy, seventy-one, seventy-two. Silence. You listen, but there is no sound — only silence. Isaac Tipton. He has been ailing for two weeks now. It must be Isaac.”

Dear reader, how did you feel when reading that passage? Can you even imagine living in such a community?

The way we think about death affects the way we live our lives. Are you comfortable thinking about death? When you walk on decaying brown leaves, can you feel the inter-connectedness of life and death?

Contemplating death helps us to happy up, because it reminds us that we are alive right now in this present moment, and we can enjoy life so much, even during difficult times.

What are you enjoying right now? What do you feel grateful for? Are you loving yourself fully today?

With reverence for life and death,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash.

 

A Celebration of You

Have you been to a Celebration of Life service recently? Or ever?

“Celebration of Life” is a term being used instead of funeral or memorial service, and some people with life-limiting illnesses are opting to have this celebration before they die, so that they can be present at their own service! Have you heard of this practice already?

In my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life, I share a few writing exercises to help you explore the topic of death. Death meditations are practiced in many spiritual traditions, because they actually help people to live more fully in the present moment. Contemplating death can help you to keep your problems in perspective and to prioritize so that you keep focusing on what is most important to you in life.

Here is another writing exercise that can serve as a form of death meditation:

First write what you would want people to read, written by you, at the Celebration of your life. Then write what you would like to hear others say about you. Finally, reflect: Are you living up to what you would like to hear said about you? If not, do you need to set some doable goals towards being the You who you want to be?

After writing your answers, spend some time out in the trees, or if that’s not possible, then look at some photos of trees… While tuning in to the energies of the trees, contemplate what you wrote. Notice what arises in your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations… Lastly, place one hand on your heart, and the other hand on your belly. While feeling your loving touch, take a few slow breaths, and savor feelings of self-love. Conclude your personal mini Celebration of You in some way that feels precious and meaningful to you.

I hope this exercise is beneficial to you or to someone you love.

Please feel free to share your experiences with me here…

With a spirit of celebration for life,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash.

 

Reaching for Orange, Decorated

Dear readers,

Recently I decided that it was time for me to decorate and write in my copy of my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life, so I spent several mornings working through the book like that, and it was such fun! In this post I will share a few things that I wrote in response to the questions and exercises in the book…

In the section about practicing death meditations, here are my answers to the first two questions ~

~ How do you want to die? ~ Consciously and peacefully.

~ What does a good death look like to you? ~ I’m awake, aware, conscious. I’m listening to chanting music, with chants to Shiva and Rama (aspects of God in Hinduism). I’m feeling peaceful about letting go into Whatever Is Next.

In the visualization with guided imagery to meet your mystic, I especially loved imagining the bright light inside the vibrant flower in my heart… “this light is the size of a candle flame… and it is glowing like a billion golden suns… this golden flame is shining so bright that the flower petals are glowing… and this light is radiating out from the center of your flower… out through your heart… and into your whole body… warm golden light moving into all of your 37.2 trillion cells… and feeling how that flame is your inner mystic… your deepest self… your highest mind… the Divine within you…”

Here are my answers to the questions after that visualization ~

~ How do you experience your inner mystic? ~ Do you catch glimpses of your mystic during your daily life? ~ My inner mystic sees and feels things deeply — and feels very connected to everything: to trees, rocks, birds, and creatures on Earth, and to unseen forces out in the stars and planets. So in my daily life there are lots of glimpses through the vehicles of depth and connectivity.

As you can see in the photo with this post, I also enjoyed decorating my copy of the book. I placed jewel stickers all over the cover, and pasted lots of images throughout the pages. Many of the images I selected were of the orange and red rocks of Arizona and Utah, because those holy rocks are my happy places… Hiking barefoot on the warm rocks is such a high vibration joy for me!

So what arose for you when reading this post? Have you thought about what a good death looks like to you? Do you experience your inner mystic?

I hope you enjoyed reading this post…

May you feel happy! 🙂

With great love,
Teja

 

My new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life, is available on Lulu and Amazon!! 🙂

 

Time of Death is Set at the Time of Birth

Swami Muktananda (spiritual teacher in India, 1908-1982) wrote in his book Does Death Really Exist?:

“It does not come early and it does not come late. The moment of departure is set at the time of birth, and it does not change by even a minute. Death is the one thing in this world that is always on time.”

That resonates with me as truth, and yet it brings up continuous questions. What about situations in which it seems like a person was saved from death by something that happened? For example, what if someone was all ready to commit suicide but then they just “happened” to read my blog article “It Is Your Duty To Live” and they changed their mind and did not commit suicide.

In that instance, was it a miracle that saved them from dying, or was it already pre-determined that they would read that article since it was not yet their set time to die? What do you think?

Are you comfortable thinking about death? Do you feel at peace, knowing that you will die at the right time? Did you know that meditating on death can help you to happy up your life? Contemplating death is a spiritual practice that can help you to live more fully in the present moment.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, down where it says “Leave a Reply.”

May All Beings Know Deep Peace.

Happy MahaShivaratri
to all who are celebrating
the Hindu festival to honor Lord Shiva.
Om Namah Shivaya!