I dreamed I was dying, and no one knew. When I woke, I learned David Bowie had died.

I did a biodynamic craniosacral session yesterday with someone I cherish. In years past, I’ve participated in several of her workshops exploring life and death. As in my life, unexpected violent death visited her life early on and made a lasting impression, so we both have a long acquaintance with death and mortality.

This was our first session doing biodynamic work.

(And by the way, biodynamic work may have been first written about by cranial osteopaths who spent decades working with people, mostly in silence, listening intently and deeply, who finally had the courage to say, “There’s something else going on here.” However, in my opinion, this work is timeless, and another label for it, that goes back to ancient times, is hands-on healing.)

I dreamt in the middle of the night that I was dying. I had been told that I had a terminal condition and that nothing could be done to restore my health. I was on my way out of this life. Continue reading

The value of confession is that it softens us

Aside

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche (one of Pema Chodron’s teachers) writes:

The gap between ourselves and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas exists because of our own denial, that could not be penetrated by any blessings. But that denial comes from and covers, deep down, a lack of harmony with oneself, a conflict inside, between how things are and how they appear. Having these two in harmony is enlightenment. As we confess, we feel the lack of the aggression and rejection that underlies our denial. A little white light opens up in our being that one day can expand to the vastness of the sky. We can avail ourselves of help from which we were previously blocked. This is why honest and intelligent confession practice is so valued by many religious traditions.

Regret, distortion, aging, what’s real, going forward

This quote today from Tricycle Daily Dharma resonated with me fiercely today. I’ve been resuming my sitting practice:

One of the main things that happens when you meditate is that regret starts to surface and you start to think about your life. Meditation neutralizes denial after a while and opens up the circuits and things start to flow in, and then you begin to realize that regret is a distortion of what’s real. What’s real is that this is your life, and it happened, and there’s no going back. There’s only altering your attitude and perception about it so that you can go forward.

The author is Lewis Richmond in Aging as a Spiritual Practice.

Regret is about the past. There’s no going back. You can just be here now and move forward.

I would add that forgiving and accepting yourself are important for letting go of past regrets.

But if you talk candidly to older people, I think they have an intimation that there’s something precious and new about growing old. 

But I don’t think anybody would trade their mind. I think that life is cumulative, and if I look at who I was at 35, it’s clear I know more now. I’m a deeper person. I have a deeper appreciation of other people. I’ve just lived a life—a full life. 

There’s some point in your life, early or late, when it hits you that you and everybody else that you care about and love are not going to be here eventually, so now what? That’s the gate. And when you’re at that gate, life changes on you. It has a different coloration. It’s more precious. It’s more serious. You feel a loss of innocence.

A lot of us nowadays will live to be 90, so part of the gate is, “Yeah, I’m getting old and I’ve got a lot of time left, so what am I going to do?” Play golf?

It’s [meditation is] good for knowing what’s real and what isn’t, and that takes time to emerge. There’s a tremendous actual liberation in knowing what’s real, and increasingly you can discern that in situations, through your meditation, “Well, this is just my stuff.” Or, “This is solid. This is real.”

Regret is the ego trying to distort what is unchangeable, and we have various words for how that happens. One of them is denial, which is very powerful. Research shows that it is largely neurological. The neural circuits simply don’t fire. The brain arranges to protect you from the pain; it’s like you literally can’t get there, and you arrange not to get there in terms of remembering, but I think transforming regret into appreciation is one of the main values of meditation.