One day my cousin came visiting unexpectedly.
“Come in, you look kind of haggard!” I commented, upon noticing his heavy breathing and pinched expression.
“My mind is full of voices, it’s like a committee meeting with lots of points of view, all wanting to be heard.”
I ushered him to a chair and sat opposite him.
“This sounds serious.”
“I’m in a constant state of frenzy!”
“You sound like you’re a candidate for meditation.”
“Is that where you just sit and do nothing?”
“It will make you flexible enough to kick your own butt, if necessary!”
He stared at me wide-eyed!
“I’ll help you get into it.”
“Thank you, cousin.”
“First, there is the position.” I took a cushion from the settee and placed it on the floor.
“What’s that for?”
“Now, sit down on the cushion cross-legged.”
My cousin proceeded to sit like an Indian on the floor.
“Now, you are going to pay attention to your breathing. Take deep breaths, inhale and exhale slowly, to bring calmness to your body.”
“Hey, that feels good and relaxing.”
“Now, you need to concentrate on your daily frustrations: When the alarm wakes you up, how does that make you feel? Do you feel minor aches and pains? When you’re in the bathroom and you look in the mirror, are you pleased with what you see? On your way to work, does the traffic bother you? Does someone at work say something to injure your feelings? How do you feel about that? So, at the end of the day, how did you handle life’s little irritations?
My cousin yelled:
“It’s the world that’s to blame for so many daily irritations.”
“I’m sorry, the world is not to blame. The problem is that you expect too much from the world. Now, relax and keep breathing deeply.”
“I feel a little better, but I have another problem. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own death recently, since I lost my mother. I’m afraid of aging and death!”
“Keep breathing, inhale and exhale. You must confront your feelings about death, to free yourself from the fear. You must liberate yourself so you have an appreciation for every moment, your have to get on with the business of living!”
My cousin had a gleam in his eye, like an inner light.
“Our culture conditions us to avoid thinking about death. We turn the dead over to a funeral home and they take care of everything, disposing of the body, so we don’t have to.”
“So, how do I face up to my own mortality?”
“You have to come to grips with the idea that our lives are transitory. You will have to repeat these lines over and over to yourself: One-I will get old, if I’m lucky, it’s unavoidable. Two- I am subject to sickness. Three-My death is unavoidable. Four- I will be separated from everyone and everything in this world. Five-Whatever I do, either good or bad, I will reap and leave as a legacy. Facing your own demise through reflection is essential to living a full, enjoyable life.”
“So, the more I repeat those lines, the less I will fear death, and I will want to get out there and enjoy my present moments and live.”
“You’re getting the idea now,” I smiled.
“Well, thanks cousin, for getting me started on meditation.”
“I’m glad I helped you.”
As he walked out the door he exclaimed:
“If I can survive my fear of death, I can survive anything! Death is hereditary!”
I shouted after him: “Keep breathing deeply!”
“WEB of GUILT” BY DAVID WISE, available on Amazon Kindle.
Hmm. As another person who is afraid of death and dying, I’m afraid those affirmations sound a little scary, especially, “I will be separated from everything and everyone in this world.” How about something a little more upbeat?
Writer Dave Here,
Our culture’s inordinate fear of death has taken away one of the best teachers for living life enjoyably in the present moment!
Well, I guess none of us are getting out alive!
Get busy living or get busy dying!
The monkey mind that continues, never stopping, and increases in momentum with each disturbance. Meditation is not the freeing of the mind, but the acceptance of life, while learning to accept what we cannot change. Very tricky but with practice is easy to achieve. The duality of life, challenges, even writing is always for interpretation and a great forum to discussion. I think we must all come to life and living with an open heart, learning and sharing is living. You’ve found the secret so it seems.
I don’t fear death, I don’t really kook forward to but I don’t fear it. I think we will be reunited with friends and loved ones who have passed on before us. I also think all our questions will be answered, like how to make a better mouse trap. I going to sit and meditate for a little bit and see if I can relax enough to do my chores. L.L.C. Jim
Just reading the passage was meditative. Good job. As a PC (politically correct) police-woman (NOT), I might rephrase the term “Indian” b/c it’s too general, nowadays. I know you’re British and American, and Brits call what we call Indians (from India), Asians; you might say, “he sat like a yoga swami,” or “he sat like a Native American tribe member at a pow-wow….” just a thought.
Your writing is crisp, clear and very evocative. Good job.
Good job Dave.
I am a meditater. It always helps calm my perception of the world we live in.