They say if you dig deep enough, the fear that underlies all others is the fear of death. I recently had a coaching client in his early thirties tell me this was true for him, and how much of his time and energy was spent fearing it, and getting his affairs in order to prepare for it. He also went on to share the anxiety he experiences, even full-blown panic, and the medication he has resorted to using to manage his fear. And he’s not alone.
Which reminds me of something a friend of mine says: “Why do we spend so much time and energy caring for the one thing we know will fail us – our bodies?”
We are not our bodies, which are nothing more than a collection of cells consisting mostly of space, and held together by consciousness. Even the cells are not ours as they die off and regenerate. Over the span of seven years every cell in our body will have turned over and been replaced.
Our bodies are homes – temporary homes – for our spirit. And just like we care for our home as a way of honoring the people within it, we care for our bodies as a way of honoring our spirit. But just as with any attachment, an attachment to our bodies pulls us away from an awareness of who and what we really are, we get caught up in the external world – the illusion – of separation, scarcity and lack, and suffering surely follows.
Death is so respected and revered within yogic philosophy that every class ends in it. Literally translated, Savasana means “corpse pose,” or “pose of the dead man.” This is where the practice dies…and where we practice dying. The idea is to let go and surrender so fully, so completely its like dying. And while it is the simplest pose in yoga for many it is the most challenging, because here we are asked to do nothing. The more fully and completely we give ourselves over to this, the more deeply we integrate the benefits of our practice. It is here where old constructs, stuck issues and rigid holding patterns really dissolve…if we allow it.
I once had a healer tell me I was so good at being strong, that I now needed to learn how to fall apart, and that it was the holding it all together that was keeping me from integrating some valuable life lessons. It is one of the most beautiful moments in life when the ego gives way. Old constructs dismantle, outdated beliefs and habit patterns unravel. Which is why Marianne Williamson says, breakdowns are highly underrated.
A friend of mine spent much of his adult life going from relationship to relationship, merely segueing from one to the next without ever integrating the lessons learned and the growth inherent in them. When he finally had enough he stopped, not because there was no longer anyone new and interesting out there, but because he was ready to let an old pattern die, and knew that he had not yet fully integrated that.
While I often say to students of yoga that the asanas (postures) are a great way to get out of our heads and into our bodies, it is the space between the asanas that is most rich. Because there we experience a sense of timelessness, and even if for just a moment, we feel our connection with everything. There is beauty in that void. Within that void is pure consciousness.
Even on a cellular level, the dying is as valuable as birth, and must happen in order for new life to occur. Death is nothing more than a shedding of the body, and of the ego, and we are returned to pure consciousness, pure potential, pure energy. A basic law of physics states that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time. What are you ready to let die in order to let the truth live? With every ending there is a new beginning. What is waiting to be called forth into your life as soon as you make room for it? As soon as you let go of what is blocking it?