In last week’s blog, we explored the concept of practicing for death …. a concept presented in the first segment of the Conscious Dying Institute’s End of Life Doula Certificate program. The name of this first segment is: "Conscious Dying Practices For Awakening NOW!" What does this mean? Experiential transformational activities are designed specifically to help us focus on awakening our innate healing gifts and talents, awakening to the power of bold inquiry, awakening to the gift of presence. One powerful transformational activity is Maha Shavasana: Practice for Death © The Entire Activity is listed below. Choose a partner and practice together.
Maha Shavasana: Practice for Death ©
Be aware of any compulsion to talk, laugh, dilute or slough off nervousness or fear. Be aware of “not knowing”, feeling helpless, either as companion or when practicing death. Unless you are giving instructions, refrain from talking, asking or answering questions.
- Get mat, blanket and cushion and prepare a place for your partner to lie down
- Companion places his or her cushion at side of partner where you will eventually sit vigil
- Companion supports partner to lie down on mat
- Companion adjusts body for comfort, hands, arms, legs
- Come to feet, gently press shoulders, arms, hands, thighs, ribs feet toward floor, invitingbody to rest toward earth
- Cover partner with blanket.
- Pick up back of head, holding head at base of neck, with both hands contact and massage the occipital ridge
- Release. This is the last touch you will do.
Companion asks each question:
“Who would you most like to say these five statements to or hear them from?”
- Thank you
- Forgive me
- I love you
- I forgive you
“Is there a being, spiritual teacher, ancestor you wish to guide you on this journey?”
- Intend, ask, pray in your own way that this being be with each of you and guide both of you
- Read Practice for Death
- Be still and silent
- Become available to any subtle energy, messages or sensations
- Sit vigil with your partner
- When bell rings, support partner to roll over and press to sit up
- Hold, embrace, connect, as appropriate
- Allow words to come as they will or not
- Bear Witness
In keeping with one of the Conscious Dying Principles, developed by Founder, Tarron Estes, “Honor other’s beliefs while staying true to your own,” our death doula training program introduces practices from many ancient traditions. Read on to lift your spirit with words and practices from other wisdom traditions.
Atisha’s Nine Contemplations
- Death is inevitable and our life span is decreasing continuously.
- Death will come whether or not we are prepared for it.
- The life span for us and all living beings is not fixed.
- Death can come at any time.
- There are myriad causes of death.
- Our human body is fragile and vulnerable.
- At the time of death, our material resources are of no use to us.
- Our loved ones cannot keep us from death.
- Our own body cannot help us at the time of death.
Padampa Sange’s Final Instructions
- Confess your faults
- Approach what you find Repulsive
- Help those you think you cannot help
- Anything you are attached to-let it go
- Go to the places that scare you
- If you do not grasp with your mind,
- You will find a fresh state of being.
Bobby McFerrin – The 23rd Psalm Lyrics
The Lord is my Shepard, I have all I need,
She makes me lie down in green meadows,
Beside the still waters, She will lead.
She restores my soul, She rights my wrongs,
She leads me in a path of good things,
And fills my heart with songs.
Even though I walk, through a dark & dreary land,
There is nothing that can shake me,
She has said She won't forsake me,
I'm in her hand.
She sets a table before me, in the presence of my foes,
She anoints my head with oil,
And my cup overflows.
Surely, surely goodness & kindness will follow me,
All the days of my life,
And I will live in her house,
Forever, forever & ever.
Glory be to our Mother, & Daughter,
And to the Holy of Holies,
As it was in the beginning, is now & ever shall be,
World, without end. Amen
These are just a few of the practices that are part of the end of life doula toolkit. If you feel called to this healing path, if you wish to site in sacred circle with like-minded students, if you desire a livelihood in service at end of life, we offer trainings in Boulder, Asheville, Gainesville and Vancouver.