When I first started studying Buddhism back in 2003 I learned a powerful meditation technique that made a lasting impression on my mind to this day; it was meditating on your death. A lot of people have a negative response when I talk about this meditation, saying that it’s depressing and morbid and why would I want to think about that?! The truth is we are all going to “die” someday and the other truth is that we never really know when. That is the reality, but it’s a reality that is not usually at the forefront of our mind. What happens when you do think about it? For me it jolts me back to life in a strange sort of way. True I do get a little anxiety after I meditate or contemplate my dying, but it always puts everything in perspective for me and gives me a chance to let go and begin again, in a much more heart centered and soul focused way. I tend to lighten up and stop reacting and getting frustrated over the small stuff. It brings me back to my truth of what is important for me, which is spending as many moments as I can in love, in peace and in happiness.
Death heightens our appreciation of every moment we are alive and calls out to us: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver) “We do not know where death awaits us, so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” (Michel de Montaigne) By practicing dying doesn’t mean we walk around being doom and gloom and announcing the death of all living things. It actually is the opposite. *Practicing dying means living as close to reality as we can in each moment. It is the ultimate bravery. It helps you stand undefended before the ultimate truth with an open heart and an objective mind.
“When we practice dying we are learning to identify less with the Ego and more with the Soul.”
– Ram Dass
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