Insights About Dying

One of my dearest friends recently passed. Being with him in his last days provides me new purpose.  

Frank Ostaseski in "The Five Invitations: Discovering what death can teach us about living fully," provides amazing insights.  He shares that death opens greater intimacy with ourselves. 

The five invitations are:

1) Don't wait 

2) Welcome everything, push away nothing 

3) Bring your whole self to the experience

4) Flnd a place of rest in the middle of things 

5) Cultivate don't know mind

Five invitations reminds me how to best honor my friend's memory.

He writes on page 48 

Most of us choose comfort over truth but when you think about it we don't grow and transform in our comfort zones. We grow once we realize we're no longer able to control... When we release our clinging to what used to be and our craving from what we think should be, we are free to embrace the truth of what it is in this moment.

Acknowledging life's transitions gives me the perseverance to overcome my greater despair.

Frank cites a Carl Rogers quote on page 77;

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am then I can change.

He shares on page 88;

The secret of healing lies in exploring our wounds in order to discover what is truly there. When we allow the experience--creating space and acceptance for it--we find that our suffering is not static, monolithic thing but rather it is composed of many elements including our attitudes toward it. Understanding this we can skillfully work to alleviate the underlined reactions that exasperate our problems so that we might ease our suffering.

Suffering the loss of a dear one breaks our heart.  However this life proccess teaches us many virtues from those who passed.

Frank continues on page 108;

Love is what helps us to accept ourselves, our lives and other people as it as is when something unwanted such as death.

Rachel Naom Remen wisely said;

Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life.  When you help you see life as weak. When you fix you see life as broken. When you serve you see life as whole. Fixing and helping maybe the work of the ego and service the work of the soul.

Fixing in helping are draining. Over time we may burn out but service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself renews us. In helping we find a sense of satisfaction, but I, serving we find a sense of gratitude.

Try sometimes to sit down with another person without a solution to their problem without playing a role. No analyzing, no fixing, no meddling, no mending. Listen generously as if the other person has all the resources that they need inside of them. 

...receptive silence heals more than all the meaningful words.

Frank explores his inner critic. On page 138 he writes;

Out of self-preservation we learn to get and maintain approval avoid shame and punishment by bending to adults wishes. Along the way, we internalized their voices of authority, adapted their values or rebelled against them. The  conditioning-- the "should" and "should nots," the message that was something was "wrong" with us-- formed the basis of our inner critics.

As we come into adulthood the harsh, coercive of voice of the judge outgrows its usefulness. We don't need the critics constant appraisal and attacks, its humiliation, repression and rejection or the suffering it generates.

The five invitations allows us to act now, welcome everything that arises, be wholeheartedly present, pause and rest when it's appropriate, and know that you really don't know. 

When I better accept both myself and the situation of death new possibilities, purpose and potential arise. 

While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die - Leonardo da Vinci 

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