Today I went down to the cemetery and spent some time there. I walked around, looking at the gravestones and dates of birth and death & I sat under a beautiful old tree for a while enjoying the peace and solitude. It is interesting that I felt so at peace there, so welcome and accepted. I thought about life and death, the process we all go through and how beautiful that process really is. I thought about how we go about our lives so quickly and we sometimes forget that at any moment our lives can be taken from us, or our loved ones. Pondering about death really makes you cherish your life and the lives of those around you. In these times of separation and unrest, it may be good for us to remember this and allow it to bring us back to the interconnectedness of all life and the processes we share.
Fear of death is an affliction in yoga, called a klesha. In Sanskrit fear of death is called abhinivesa. In yoga it is believed that we must overcome our fear of death to truly live our lives and be present in them. Our culture obsesses over youth, looking and feeling young, so much so that we oftentimes avoid talking about death. Our culture does not honor our elders nor does it honor the process of transition called death. In Patanjali's yoga sutras, he explains the fear of death arises from past experiences and attachment. Attachment to our physical bodies, our loved ones and possessions can instill a fear of death in us all.
Yoga can help with letting go of the fear of death. Since we work on clearing the slate in our yoga practice this can help break down past experiences that affect our present decisions and actions. When we can live fully present in each moment of our lives, we begin to see that death is just another phase of life that everyone goes through, we begin to see that death is an unknown mystery that connects all human beings and we can cherish our lives and live them fully with love. It is easy to get caught up with thinking that death is the end, maybe it is but who really knows? Maybe it's not. A yoga teacher once told me that we are connected with our loved ones in ways we can not grasp, in other lives, in other dimensions, perhaps. I like to hold this thought near because I love my family and friends and I would love to have them around after death.
Yoga has helped me to live a more present life, where I notice the beauty around me and the simplicity of it all even when it seems like life is moving too fast. I am not in this space all the time but my yoga practice has helped me create space in my life to be present, be grateful and feel good. Thank you for living.
Love always in all ways,