By Doris Deits
The older I get, the more affected I am by the deaths of people I know. Not in the grieving, sorrow kind of way but in the, “Hmmm, is my time coming soon?” kind of way.
The recent loss of a classmate from my spiritual group seems to have deeply affected me, even though we weren’t personal friends or particularly close. Joel had a constant cough and went to the doctor. The diagnosis was shocking – advanced cancer throughout the body. Surprise!
Since his death, I find my anxiety levels are elevated with any changes or fluctuations within my physical body. Death can surprise you. Just like Joel, I may not even see it coming!
Logically, I know I am in good physical health, but for some reason my body is in overdrive looking for signs of its own imminent demise. Many unpleasant scenarios march through my mind on a daily basis.
Vertigo is now the precursor to an inoperable brain tumor. Even the slightest deviation in heartbeats causes an alert status of possible aortal blowout.
I even feel fearful of going to sleep each night, possibly because I’ve always said that I wanted to die in my sleep. Now my body thinks I’m trying to kill myself by going to sleep at night!
As much as I enjoy a cocoon of denial, I’ve come to that point where confronting my fear of death is inescapable. Sure, there are lots of stories about a nice bright light and singing angels, but the closer one gets to that particular benchmark, the more skeptical one becomes. Fear has a powerful grip.
Fear of death and the “unknown” are instinctual in every human. While our higher soul consciousness doesn’t experience death, the physical body does cease to exist as it once did.
This is the duality of a spiritual being having a human experience. The soul is okay with the death process, the body not so much.
While I am absolutely convinced that physical death is merely a transition for my spiritual “essence,” I cannot deny the fact or the power of the body’s fear of death. I cannot make it go away. What I can do is figure out how to manage the fear so anxiety isn’t running rampant through my veins every day.
There’s a metaphysical technique called “redirection” that can be used when irrational fears move in. The idea is if your thoughts are going places you don’t want to go, change the direction and move your thoughts onto something more positive. Even better would be putting those positive thoughts or ideas into action.
For example, if one is entertaining fears of dying (as I am), the goal would be to turn the mind toward something more positive like, “How do I want to live my life?” Then make a list: I choose to live a long life, I choose to live a happy and peaceful life, I choose to live a life of service to my community, I choose to live a healthy life, etc.
When I take a positive action, like exercising, eating more vegetables, taking an art class or calling a friend, it reinforces my choice to put my mind and energy toward things I like to do. If I do things that bring meaning and fulfillment to my life, maybe I won’t feel cheated when death does make its appearance.
Appreciation is another powerful technique to have in your positivity toolbox. Redirecting one’s focus to things that bring even the smallest comforts and joys can uplift our energy. Indoor plumbing, hot showers, mocha lattes, sketchers, lilacs, raspberries – the list is endless.
So if you are getting overwhelmed with fearful or negative thought patterns, remember to acknowledge them and then redirect your thoughts to something better. Use the art of appreciation. Even if you have to do it a hundred times a day, eventually you will train your mind to think from a new perspective.
No, we can’t escape death, and facing our fear of death doesn’t make it go away, but it’s possible to come to terms with it. In the end, I hope to have the courage to face my own death with gratitude for the life I got to live.
This one’s for you Joel – peace out, brother.