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.

 

Happy International Day of Peace, Friends!

“Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Happy International Day of Peace, Friends!

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And for those living in the Northern Hemisphere,
on Monday, Happy Autumn Equinox! 🙂

 

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash.

 

The Yoga of Chocolate

As I shared in a recent post (“What Kind of Yoga do You Practice?”), there are many ways to practice yoga beyond just the physical poses. In today’s post I’ll be sharing how to practice the yoga of chocolate!

Do you love chocolate? Or do you know anyone who loves chocolate? I’m guessing you are answering yes to at least one of these questions!

Chocolate is made from cacao beans which grow inside pods on small trees, and besides being high in antioxidants, and helpful to heart health, it can greatly improve your mood. Chocolate creates excitement and sends a signal to your brain that something fun is about to happen!

The word yoga means “union” and so the goal of the yogic practices done by a yogi (male) or yogini (female) is to achieve a state of union with divine consciousness. Depending on your beliefs, you may call that consciousness God, Goddess, Divine Love, Nature, the Universe, or many other names. In the yoga tradition it is believed that your deepest self is connected with that divine consciousness, so when you do yogic practices you feel that union inside yourself.

Eating chocolate in a conscious way can enhance your feelings of union with your deepest self. Some ways to practice the yoga of chocolate include ~

~ Offer the chocolate to the Divine, or to your deepest self. Bless the chocolate with your highest gratitude vibrations.

~ Imagine the tree on which the cacao beans grew… under sunlight by day, and under starlight by night. Cultivate fascination for the miracle that this superfood grows naturally on this sacred Earth.

~ Take small bites, close your eyes, and eat the chocolate as slowly as you possibly can. Savor the taste and be fully aware of all sensations in the present moment. Allow your heart and mind to open to all the love in the universe!

~ If you have time, do some spiritual practices after eating your chocolate. In Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, chanting (singing sacred mantras) is one of the primary practices, and it goes especially well with chocolate. Both singing and chocolate open the mind and heart to deep feelings of love, so combining the two is like giving yourself a superblast of big love energies!

Like coffee (see my post “Coffee Is Good Medicine”), it is important to buy organic, fair-trade chocolate… And, dark chocolate is best for many reasons, including health (dairy nullifies cacao’s benefits), and compassion (the cows suffer greatly when their milk is stolen from them)…

For many years my absolute favorite chocolate bar has been this salted almond 70% dark chocolate bar by Theo, pictured here on top of my Grandma Hazel’s floral tin, in which I store my chocolate stash…

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I have been enjoying chocolate as medicine for decades, but sometimes I take a break from it, just to make sure that I’m not addicted to it, and to make sure that I still enjoy life without it! So, I did not eat any chocolate for the month of July, and I had so many seriously happy days, which proved that I am not dependent on chocolate… But, some days I do enjoy it as one of my many happy-ing up tools!

I hope you enjoyed this post on the yoga of chocolate… This is day 3 of my Virtual Book Launch Week! You will learn much more about yogic practices beyond the physical poses in my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life, available now on Lulu! ~ Thank you so much to Andrea, of The Hummingbird’s Journal, for ordering a copy! 🙂

May All Beings Be Happy!

 

Photo* of cacao beans by allybally4b on Pixabay.

* If you are viewing this post in an email, simply click on the title of the article and you will be taken to the StarFire Teja blog where you can see the photo of cacao beans.

 

“I can’t wait until…”

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I can’t wait until…” ?

How often do you think that you can’t wait until something is over, or you can’t wait until something arrives, or you can’t wait until that next fun event happens?

Is the path before you clear, or is it filled with uncertainty?

Sometimes pondering the questions is even more helpful than knowing the answers.

The wise ones teach that happiness is found in the present moment… and yet, it seems to be our human nature to ruminate about or to relish things in the past, and to worry about or to look forward to things in the future.

When you cultivate the witness consciousness, you simply watch your thoughts, and whether or not they are in the past, present, or future, you just love yourself for being human, and you accept your thoughts just as they are.

Those feelings of self-love and self-acceptance bring happiness.
Can you feel that now?

 

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy!

 

Tulip Fields image from Public Domain Pictures

 

 

 

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!