Patagonia is my favorite place, but I never thought it could be my last. I was trekking through the beautiful forest like I did many times before. But on this occasion, my stressed mind played me a trick, and I found myself lost.
It was too dark and late to see my way back. I thought I was going to die. My clothes were not suited to spend the night in the middle of nowhere.
Great endings make us remember a movie forever. In our lives, we avoid writing that last episode. I felt afraid that night in Patagonia.
But because I believed I could do more. But death feels dark and sad. As the great philosopher Thomas Nagel asks: As long as a person exists, he has not yet died. You might think this is too rational. Or that it lacks compassion to those who lost their loved ones. We can either hold onto sadness or turn that loss into something meaningful.
One of my friends passed away earlier this year. It took us all by surprise. We were just assimilating his recent cancer diagnosis.
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Losing a friend hurts deeply. When I miss him, I feel sad, but it also reminds me to celebrate life. He deserves we pay respects to his early departure. Instead of trying to hold onto life forever, embrace its ephemerality.
What if we see life as a preparation for dying? When death knocks your door, be ready to leave. Western civilizations fear death. In our material world, life has become a possession too.
And we cannot let go of it. Interestingly enough, when someone dies, even the most religious folks feel sad.
We hold onto life as a material property, thus blinding our spiritual beliefs. But you manage how.
Come to terms with death. When we fear death, we stop living. We like to feel invincible or immortal for that matter. It takes guts to confront this vulnerable truth: We avoid thinking about death, yet we fear it in silence. Try this exercise I learned from Bernie Roth at Stanford.
Answer one question at a time.
And the rest of your life? Every time I facilitate this exercise in a workshop, it catches everyone off-guard. We take time for granted. But when the end is around the corner we regret our assumptions.
Some people get anxious about finishing or starting their most valuable project. This exercise is very moving, especially done in a group setting.
In his influential paper of...
The premise of confronting our future death is a powerful reflection on how we are living. The purpose of this exercise is to stop taking life for granted.
Like it happened to me when I had to survive the cold weather in Patagonia. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow. Adding a sense of urgency to your life makes you focus on what really matters.
Spend your energy doing something worthy of your time on Earth. Buddhism promotes meditating on death and dying as a way to embrace it and prepare in advance.
Most people find this idea absurd. As Zasep Tulku Rinpoche said: Death is both certain and uncertain. Spiritual practice can train our mind to accept that truth instead of being in denial.
Even if you feel skeptical, I would recommend you give this death meditation a try. As Tibetan lama, Chagdud Rinpoche said: Live the way you want to be Why are we afraid of death. Let your acts and legacy pen it instead. We use this exercise in some of our change leadership workshops. Writing your own obituary is not easy. Thinking about your death is moving.
Write your own obituary. Take the exercise seriously, not yourself. If you are humorous, let your epitaph be fun too. Use the following template. Download a high res copy of the template here.
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What did you learn about yourself by doing this exercise? How would you define your relationship with death?
Feel free to share your epitaph below and encourage others to participate. One stretch at a time. Sign in Get started. Never miss a story from Liberationistwhen you sign up for Medium. Get updates Get updates. Research comparing perceptions of death with accounts of those imminently facing it suggest Everyone dies, and most of us are afraid of it.
If there were any good evidence that life does survive death, then we would have to reject Epicurus' conclusion, but phenomena such as near-death. Explore the various ways people Why are we afraid of death fear death and learn how to tell when percent of Americans are "afraid" or "very afraid" of dying.
has survived it to tell us what really happens after we take our last breath.
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