“We are all just walking one another home.” ~Ram Dass
Many years ago, I had an experience after a day of hooping and spinning. I sat down, stretched my heart open, closed my eyes and received a beautiful vision accompanied by the simplest peace. As I saw this body of light, spinning, as if amongst the stars, I suddenly knew where I was headed after I move from this body and that my practice was a preparation for dying. The beauty of the ‘beyond’ and this expansive, unitive moment left me with no fear.
More recently, I’ve worked with ancestral guides who have communicated to me that “Death is a celebration. While we must grieve our own loss, we can be soothed by how amazing it is for the one who has moved on.” Then, I experienced the most expansive bliss, beyond all thought, identity, time and space. When I suddenly reconnected to my body, I felt surprised and disappointed. In every other blissful experience, state of oneness I’ve felt, I have been utterly in love with the body for allowing this feeling. While again, I experienced this sensation through my embodiment practice combined with ancestral prayer, I deeply felt a sorrow and realization of the limitation of the body. I felt a confusion descending back into language, limitation, paradox, suffering.
These mystical experiences, feelings of oneness and utter bliss, along with the direct connection with my wise loving ancestors has completely shifted my perspective on death and confirmed my trust that there is a continuity of consciousness after dying.
Perhaps it is my mystical inclination that developed a fascination with the study of death and this sacred transition. As a rite of passage, this is one that all inevitably face and yet we avoid the topic, at times when someone is passing, sometimes keeping them from a peaceful transition.
Over recent centuries, it seems we have lost our rituals of grieving and tending to the deceased. We have outsourced our funeral rites and care of our loved ones’ bodies. Our culture has embraced environmentally and financially taxing options for body disposition rather than home funerals. When we lose someone we love, we are expected to return to business as usual, pretty quickly. We are often left to grieve in private rather than in community, how we have traditionally been held in these rough places. I believe this shift away from caring for dying and recently deceased has damaged our grieving and acceptance process and has alienated us from rituals to support the transition and liberation of the souls.
With or without a religious identity or spiritual belief system, preparing for this transition is an incredibly important, potent, even transformative process. By being immersed in the reality of our inevitable passing and making preparations for this end, hopefully well before any instance of sickness, we can support our family in making decisions more easeful and in alignment with what we would want for our bodies, our possessions and closing rites. Additionally, this process may illuminate what is most important for the remainder of our lives, what is left undone, our purpose, how we would most want to be remembered and a way of being truly alive and grateful for each moment.
I’m currently studying ways to support those in transition or preparing for transition. I am offering both a series for Preparations for Death & Dying, Death Meditations and weekend events to explore the topic. For now, this series is where I’m starting to enter the conversation and support dialogue in this realm.
Preparations for Death & Dying
In these weeks together, we’ll begin some of the necessary work of preparing for death. By initiating these tasks, diving into the practical and emotional realms of this reality, we can begin to shift the cultural inheritance of death-phobia and begin to write new stories. With the support of community, we’ll be in the process, wherever we are in our life cycles, to prepare for this inevitable transition. While some of the work is detailed and even tedious, the questions inspire deep introspection. Contemplation may even transform the way you live.
This is an opportunity to explore and communicate what you ultimately want for the end of your life in a non-denominational, non-judgmental space.
This series will include discussion, meditations, movement and writing exercises.
A printed booklet of documents will be provided.
Current session nearly complete. Next series tba. Contact Julia if you’re interested.