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The Sinking Ship: Death, Dying, and Chinese Medicine

It was Friworking day evening, and Dan Jones was on his loss of lifemattress. In his 70’s, riddled with pancreatic most cancers, the 5 of us compensated our respects with a fifteen moment silent meditation.

Dan experienced been a skillful book to my men’s team one Saturday in a straw bail property out previous the Y in Oak Hill. Seared in my thoughts is the memory of his haunting clear eyes and my arms gripping his outstretched index and center fingers. Intuitively, he requested, “Who betrayed you?” He retained area, permited me to squeeze as tough as I could even though a deeply buried volcano of rage erupted from inside me into the even now Hill Nation air. I’m thankful for that day and his constant existence.

Now, here I was in a vigil with this extended-time Austin psychotherapist and pioneer of men’s classes. I made a decision to sustain my eyes open up, resting them on him as I sat on the ground. He was on his side in this hospice bed, respiratory by way of his mouth, laboring to eat air.

All of a unexpected, we switched spots in my mind. I was him and he was me. I was aged and dying, swimming in an opiate fog, cancer ingesting my organs, breathing like a fish out of drinking water. I was horrified. Abruptly, I discomfortcompletey undersalsod that I’ll die!

I struggled to keep my eyes open and proceed to visually take him in, but the much better power of be concerned prevailed. It felt as if an invisible finger was forcing my eyes shutd. My inner “hero” fought for awhile, but sooner or later the kindest thing I discovered for myself was to let the eyes close. That evening, I obviously noticed in me the 1 Who Is Scared to Appear.

We are all in the identical boat. A boat of flesh and bone. And these boats are destined to sink. They often include and always will. So what is your relationsend to this sinking ship? How do you experience the Inevitable Stop?

Apply Dying Every Date

Chinese Medicine presents possibly an invitation to examine this dating and a map that can domesticate fantasticer stability with the relationship to death and dying.

The 1st pillar of Chinese Medicine is Meditation. In this context, it truly is the basic steps of:

  1. Pause throughout any “finishing” in your life.
  2. Reflect on the doubt, “How do I do endings?”
  3. Recognize how the calories is transferring (the sum perception of the thoughts, eactions, and physique sensations that are occurring)

Pautilizing and asking into the question “How do I do endings?” is the get started to exploring how you’ll do the Huge Death. And by “endings,” I mean products like a divorce, a move, a exchange in process, quitting a habit, heading to rest at night, or very easily ending a hangout consultation with a friend. Individuals are the “small fatalities” of normal life.

The following step is to bring watchful consciousness (the simple act of witnessing) to how you react to all the “little deaths” of everyday experience. At these instances, do you discover by yourself getting hectic or concerned? Do you turn on sitcoms and space out? Do you slow down, get silent and mirrorive? Do you plummet into the abyss of depression and decline? Every individual will have their own distinct “ending” taste.

Your unique “ending” style is the habit that will be in place after you die. The technique toward the Big Death is simply an additional changeover (from this body into whatsoever comes next) in the movement of a life span of transitional moments. It is the Big Changeover. And it’s the most mysterious one. In Death, our deepest habit trends of the mind surge forward with great force. These deep behavior are the accumulation of the billions of remedies to everyday dwelling you’ve got carried out hence far.

“We get very good at what we practice.” (Joko Beck) If you are practising keep away froming endings, then you will be staying away from Death till the very end. If you practice calm courage in the face of unacknowledged transitional moments, you will bring calm bravery to the Big Magic formula. Practice dying every day. If we get “good” at the little Fatalities, probably we’ll able to bring grace and knowledge to the most challenging transitional moment of them all, the huge Death.

the Roadmap to Death & Dying

The 3rd step is noticing how the energy moves. The 5 Amounts of Chinese treatment is a map for how energy moves in a method of transsortation. By process, I mean any life event that has a beginning and end. It could be the act of reading through this post, powering to the grocery retailer, or the life cycle of a human currently being. Aside from explaining how energy moves, the Five Stages make clear the sources obtainable during every single phase of the ride through a life process.

Each Phase describes a good quality of energy. The period and the stage of human development connected with each Phase will help illuminate the quality of energy. Let us start with H2o and move through each Phase.

Water relates to the season of Wintertime. The energy is a lot more still, dealed, laying in hesitate ahead of the stirrings of spring. In phrases of human life, it is associated with pre-conception, conception, the time in the womb and early infancy. It is the energy of likely before composition. It is pure Being. Imagine of a freshborn with broad wondrous eyes not understanding the boundary in between herself and the entire world. In terms of a process, it is before the next process normally takes form.

Wooden relates to the Spring. The energy goes upward. The world commences to surge and throb. The sprout elbows its way out of the seed. Colorful eco-friendly leaves speak of new life and the ambition to achieve the sunlight. In human life, it relates to energy moving from the unacutely aware to the conscious. It is the driving force of ego development and individuality during little onehood. It is the time in a process of pictureing, making strategies and conclusions. It is the stage when an idea strives to manifest into the world.

Fireplace is associated with Summertime. As the sun moves towards the largeest point in the sky at Summer Solstice, the times increase for a longer time. There is certainly more warmth and gentle during this time. The energy illuminates the world, casting outwards and touching every little thing. Fire phase signifies energy in full consciousness getting into the world in the form of expression. It is the development phase of early adulthood. In the hearth phase we act, respond, express our will, perform our plans and decisions, declare our individuality, create the mark of our individual character on the outside the house world. In a process, it is the peak lively experience.

Planet is associated with Late Summer. The energy is neutralizing and relaxing. It is when energy takes form. It is the best, succulent, ripe peach. It relates to experienced adulthood. It is the time in a process the place we enjoy the outcomes of our actions, when things have been manifested, assimilated or integrated in daily fact. It is the time to savor the culmination of our labors.

Let’s shell out some excess time with the next two stages. As a tradition devoted on creation and speed, this next energetic shift to slowness and the interior experience is provided significantly less relevance and consideration. We should practice more being here.

The Drop is the time of Steel. Leaves fall off the trees. Inexperienced is changed by brown. The energy begins to contract, turn inwards. Objects return to seed. Here’s the time in a process when things are ending, coming to completion, and allowing go. Things become totally integrated & instinctive. It is a time to connect to inner longing, discriminating what is most treasured & essential. The organs connected to this Phase are the Lungs and High Gut. These organs purpose by taking in what is beneficial and freeing the unessential.

Sadness allows us know we’re in this phase. In the hospital and in my own experience, this can be a challenging emotion to fully experience. It usually really feels “too big” and all consuming to relax into. As well, the expression that comes up with unhappiness in my consumers is, “I thought I taken care of this. As soon as will it end?” It is good to keep in mind the items that become available with the unimpeded motion of Sadness through our being.

Initial, sadness offers Launch. Absolutely nothing compares to the peace after a good cry. A good cry is one that wrings out the body. It’s a cry which is unconcerned with “keeping it collectively” or “being sensible.” It’s like the candy quiet moments after a sudden flash of rain. Next, the advantage of Preciousness grows the more we allow sadness its full expression. Preciousness is the simultaneous experience of the benefit and cosmetic in life and the impermanence of all of life. It is expressed by the sentiment, “O’ this too will go.” Preciousness is the hurrying influence of a magnificent vista. Preciousness is the surge of bittersweet joy when hugging your child before you show up at work, emotion the love and knowing there is certainly no remember to will see each other areward. Last but not least, the energy of sadness increases discernment. Understanding what is essential and what is no longer required. At the end of a process, like a passionate break up or ending a job, there is the possibility to feel the loss, collect studyings from the experience, and make decisions about what is valuable. This discernment carries forward into the next experience with wiser alternatives.

If the Metal Phase gets to be trapped or prevented, psycho-non secular and bodily condition occurs. Bodily issues of the Lung and Large Intestine (eg. bronchial asthma, constipation or diarrhea) manifest. On the psycho-spiritual level, an unhealthier relationship to loss and gain develops. This may be expressed as lingering unhealthily in the realms of despairing grief or insatiable longing. Only observing that things end with no the awareness of beauty, value, and that things are also beginning spirals the psyche downward into the vortex of despair. Only seeing the beauty and value in the “things” of the world without noticing their inescapable ending leads to a greedy materialistic mother nature. Metal imbalance may also seem as stoicism–a incredible deficiency of grief and longing.

Grief comes in waves. And, like after a night of high tides and crashing waves, gems search on the shore. Wondrous and unfamiliar creatures from the sea depths lay there for your discovery…

Prepping for my approaching communicate on Death & Dying introduced me face to face with the question I was going to ask the viewers, “How do you do endings? What is your ending style?” As I mirrored, I felt a knot in my throat and that feeling of unstated terms and squashed grief. I remembered the two funerals that ended up held for Luke, my greatest friend in eleventh and twelfth quality. He was a wild child. When we got together, the beatnik, shaman, rebellion, and teen mixed and exploded in poetry and improvisational sketches. We might hitchhike from our college in the Dallas suburbs pretending to be vagabond pilgrims, nowhere to go and praying to everything.

After his fall in the mountains in Germany, his body was transported again to the Says and there was this ill-suited Christian rite that culminated in his cousin standing up and shouting in his grief, “I never know what Luke you fellas are discussing! Luke was too good for this world!” I sat in the pew, lump in throat, mute. The next funeral was out at Lake Belton. This one was me making good for the guarantee I would manufactured him several years back. When alive, he made me promise to give him a Viking funeral. So years later, I place together a version Viking craft, painted Sejo (his nickname) on the side, and found myself with his a few sisters and their companions in a limestone cove on the lake. The lake rocked and churned with 7 daysend warriors full of beer and hen zipping about on their jetskis and powerboats. I started to pressure that this ceremony would be another catastrophe. Magically, out of the chaos came a moment of stillness. I held the boat in my hands as Johnny paddled me out further into the lake in an inner tube. I established the ship ablaze, and we had the Viking funeral Luke had needed. Despite the fact that I last but not least found the appropriate ritual, my voice box was still stuck, and I was at a loss of the right phrases.

So, I took the time to publish the eulogy 1six years afterwards the floor of my house. As I wrote, words and tears and anguish and pincrease streamed out. My throat loosened and I remaining that experience feeling that Luke had never died. The shaman, the poet, the artist, the irreverent wild child lived on inside me, enlivening me. That evening, without me speaking a word about my non-public eulogy, one of Luke’s sisters had a desire with Luke and I in it. I was a fortune teller in her dream.

And now we enter back into the Water Phase. We started with Water–the infinite potential of conception. Now we enter the infinite potential of Death. The Five Phases are a circle with no actual beginning or end. Basically as physics clarifies: make a difference are not able to be produced or wrecked, basically converted. Water relates to the Winter. It is associated with Chilly, the sensation that sets in as warmth leaves the body before rigor mortis. It is the time in the process to turn even deeper within, cultivate quiet, listen and set desires for the next process. Water is the Very good Mystery. It is the realm of the subconscious. It is past time and space, linear considering and cognitive knowing.

Our Will occurs from the Water Phase. Will has two variables:

  1. Taking our discipline to dynamically enact our deepest intention in the world (eg. spearheading a marketing campaign to raise cash for the remedy and awareness of suicide after dropping a appreciated one to suicide)
  2. Using willingness to surrender deeply into a harmonious relationship with life’s paradox. (eg. Being ok with what is known and unknowable. Subject and energy are ultimately indivisible.)

The emotion encountered here is Concern. To let our being fall deeply into Water energy isn’t really to get rid of Fear, but to willingly turn towards our Fear, being open and conscious with It. Fear’s function is to defend by heightening awareness. On the one hand, it alerts the response to operate, struggle, or disguise from chance encountered in the atmosphere, like a bear in the woods or the mugger in the darkish alley. On the internal level, it rises up as we confront our deepest psychic phobias, like the realization of one’s mortality. Right here, we’ve the choice to distract ourselves and become entrenched in addictive habits or stay steady and gain deeper access to our innate knowing. Knowledge is the ability to navigate the world through innate knowing. The virtue of Water is Wisdom.

In accordance to the inner tradition of Chinese Medicine, each of us are endowed with a unique fate. A life invested in Wisdom is a life attending to this unique seed of being, learning the perfect conditions and leads to to allow this seed to sprout, flower, and then gracefully return to compost. Our ability to compassionately turn towards Fear deepens the ability to listen to and respond appropriately to this inmost request of the spirit.

Kim explained she was concerned of what comes next. The “Big Mysterious” felt threatening. I presented to cling her hand and vacation into the energy of the unknown together. As she turned deeper inwards, absent from the TV and photography of sandy seashores and the hope of being fixed from her Lung cancer, she started to envision a subject of horses. Horses of distinct ages enjoying and lounging. I had the thought that horses being “put out to pasture” may possibly be a pleasant reframe of her inevitable end. In a curious voice, she said, “They are just playing.” I felt her body settle and become comfortable. And then the Fear entered. She started to tremble. And then shake like a hypothermic body rising from a lake’s cracked ice. I reminded her that I was there and she could come and make eye touch when the fear got too big. We danced at the edge of the Unknown for the rest of the hour. The next week I noticed her, she sobbed the entire hour. At the end of the hour, I asked her if she wanted to make a date for me to visit her next week. She said, “I may be lifeless by next week.” 6 days later, she handed away.

The organs associated with Water are the Kidneys and Bladder. Physical and psycho-spiritual complications arise when we get stuck or avoid the Water Phase’s full expression. Issues in duplicate, development, and development (eg. infertility, early menopause, beginning problems) reflect an imbalance in Water. Reduce back pain, knees, and ankles are inclined to hurt. Listening to and head hair loss reflect weak spot in the Kidneys. Psycho-spiritually, fear and anxiety predominate the mind when avoiding Water energy. A way of life choice of “burning the candle at both ends” is illustrative of a Water imbalance. As an alternative than a grounded, reality primarily based understanding and execution of one’s resources (energy, time, physical and mental flair), alternatives that result in tiredness and depletion will be taken. Since the mind will not have a healthy relationship to Fear and life’s paradox, the use of resources both internally and externally will be unwise. Turning into stuck in the Water energy leads to a personality mired in myth. A traditional case in point is a light, doughy bodied meditator not comfortable in conditions outside the practice of “Oneness” within a dim lit meditation hall.

I’d been working on this rock climb on and off for over 6 years. In the beginning, it felt imfeasible. A pipe dream. Retains so small my fingers felt like they were breaking. Moves so powerful my biceps felt like they would snap and roll up like quickly retracting low cost 70’s window displays. And nevertheless, with a little aggressive mojo from my visitors and some training, growing up this steep swell of limestone little by little become possible.

Dan Jones had died the night before, just a couple of several hours after we saw him at the Hospice. After the Hospice, we convened at my house, keeping an impromptu memorial that incorporated laughter and reverence and reflections on death and dying. The next early morning, I went climbing. We got a late start at the crag. The crisp climbing pleasant temperatures of the morning were long gone. An afternoon Texas sun roasted over. Against the first move, I understood anything unique was occurring. I felt light, almost like levitating. The difficult moves felt easy and I remember having a quizzical fascination as I floated up the rock. My body was moving with power and accuracy, but my mind felt like a point of consciousness outside of myself. I grew to become a curious witness in motion. It was an out-of-body experience totally within my body. As I stood on best of the wall, elation loaded me.

Then I felt Dan’s presence. An huge joy infused my being. In people moments, I saw clearly that Dan was in everything. Every cell of my body, every molecule I was breathing, every fern filled cliff I climbed. He life on. And I saw that we all do too. We never really die or are even born, just form-altering energies arising and passing in this constant field of activity. The concept, “All is One,” filled me with massive vitality.


  1. Practice dying every day.

    A. Pause, Reflect, and Notice during life’s little “endings”

    B. Buy a feeling of your “ending style”: the habit pattern of thoughts, thoughts, and body sensations during endings

  2. Intake the 5 Phases as a Map and Reminder

    A. As a Map: see what phase you are in based on the energy; see which phase you choose and which you avoid

    B. As a Reminder: there are gifts that arise normally from each Phase even when the emotion is uncomfortable

  3. Build your potential to stay with sadness (Metal) and fear (Water).

    A. The gifts of sadness:
    1. Release: the physical relaxation after a good cry; the mental calm after grief is fully experienced
    2. Preciousness: the simultaneous experience of life’s impermanence and beauty/value
    3. Discernment: knowing what’s essential and not essential

    B. The gifts of Fear:
    1. Internal Wisdom: being able to hear and have out innate knowing; setting intention and using instinct
    2. Outer Wisdom: skillful use of outside resources to cultivate inner resources
    3. Will
    a. Capability to dynamically manifest our deepest intention in the world
    b. Ability to surrender deeply into a harmonious relationship with life’s paradox

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