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.

 

What is the Title for the Book of Your Life?

Have you heard of narrative therapy? I recently learned about it, which led me to do a life story exercise that you might enjoy doing also. In this blog article I’ll share my experience with this fun tool. If you do the exercise, please let me know how it goes!

So, on the night of the Spring Equinox, I lay in bed feeling as though I had come to a dead end in my life. As I ruminated about how my computer barely still works, and about how ten years of hardships have culminated at this dead end, suddenly I had a breakthrough moment in which I took responsibility. I said to myself, “You chose to come to this dead end for some reason.”

Remembering that everything happens for a reason helped to ease the pain and sadness, and within a few days I felt myself opening again to the Field of Infinite Possibilities. I affirmed that I needed to gaze around 360 degrees and see the world with fresh eyes. Right about that time, a friend sent me an article which led me to learn about narrative therapy.

From that article I printed out the Life Story exercise. The first task is to write your Book Title. Well, I started out with a bang… without thinking much, I wrote, “Teja’s Story of Coming Full Circle to a Dead End.” Sighing, I asked myself, “Would it be possible to reframe that title in a more positive light?” Nothing positive came to me right then, so I continued on, and wrote the seven Chapter Titles, along with their descriptions. The goal of the exercise is to review your life in brief, so as to not go too deeply into any memories, especially if you are working through any traumas. (The exercise is written for healing trauma, but anyone can benefit from doing it.)

It was so neat to see the seven chapters laid out like that. It was especially wonderful to see that I really did come full circle, from Chaper 1: Life in the Nourishing Roots of Indiana (Wholesome and healthy family, religion, and farmland with lots of love and nurture) to Chapter 7: Returning Home to Roots of Indiana (Wholesome plant-based living with loving parents, writing, regrouping, and reinventing while doing daily spiritual practices and facing the realities of HSP*-ness).
*Highly Sensitive Person

The third task is to write the chapter title and description for “Into the Future” which I wasn’t able to do that day because I have no idea what I’m going to do in the future! So at that point I had to stop the exercise and eat some dark chocolate, lol. This was actually in keeping with the “Time Out” instructions at the beginning of the exercise: “Always reflect on your inner state and notice if you need a break from the exercise to find your inner calm.”

While enjoying my chocolate time out, I reflected on the beautiful perspective I had gained through that writing exercise. It gave me a deeper understanding, which helped me to say, “I forgive and bless my whole past. I forgive and bless my whole life story and all the characters in it!”

Well, a few days later when I was feeling calm and positive, I finally got around to reframing my Book Title. I am very pleased with this new version: “Teja’s Story of Coming Full Circle to Her Happy Place, Reaching for Orange!” Orange is a joyful, happy color, and on the Hindu Yoga Path it represents the fire of renunciation, of renouncing worldly attachments and desires to focus on the Happiness within oneself. Through my daily spiritual practices I experience that happiness, so my “happy place” is right here inside my very own self.

I’ll end this article with a quote from Lisa Smartt, from her book Words at the Threshold: What We Say As We’re Nearing Death… “The happiest lives are framed by narratives that allow us to imagine we have made progress…”

Do you feel that you have made progress in your life so far?

 

image courtesy Public Domain Pictures