The idea of death has been a topic I have talked about a lot and probably to the dismay of friends when we are together having a good time. But for me the topic is not morbid or off putting. I am and have been fascinated with death. As a documentary photographer I have photographed several funerals. And yes even a photo of the person in “corpse pose” which is a yoga term used when the student finally gets to lay on their back and relax after the session ends.
And yes of course I always have a family member’s permission. I also photograph the people at the funeral. From the grief stricken with pain of loss, to the look on some mourners that appear to be in a state of love and knowingness. Such an interesting part of my own transformation, but it is not that uncommon to have a funeral photographed as it has been practiced throughout the ages.
What I have come to understand through the course of my life searching for answers inside myself and answers from the sages the answer to my own question is yes. But perhaps not in the way you imagine it and I am curious about your insights. So please share with me your own stories and thoughts.
The answer of yes, that is working for me, is found in examples of nature. Perhaps I do spend more time in nature than most. I am grateful that my childhood was in the country and our home was on a lakefront and I spent my waking hours playing with both real and imaginary playmates. But now they all seem imaginary. A rescued skunk, a duck that was as much as a playmate as a dog, ponies, chickens and all the creatures that roamed through the yard both domestic and wild.
Like a leaf falling from a tree we must let go of this life. The wise ones say that we are like a wave on the ocean. So many of us are drawn to the sea shore to receive healing or to renew ourselves and enjoy a vacay. I think it is because the waves are our teacher for transformation. A big beautiful wave rises up so strong and powerful than reaches a crest and falls and becomes the water that gently rushes upon the sand only to be pulled back into itself again. Becoming another wave on the surface of the vastness of an ocean of water. We are like the waves, striving to the peak of our being to then transform into the water that goes to the depth of darkness miles down below the surface. Where there is a stillness so profound that the water is undisturbed by the rushing back and forth near the shore.
Like the ocean we are, in my imagination. Coming up in such grandness and falling back into the source of creation. An infinite happening of movement and stillness. So sweet it is to be born, to live and to transform.
So imagine your head is on your pillow. You really want to be asleep so you can wake up and feel refreshed. You want your “catch” to be complete relaxation and deep sleep. When you train your mind like a skilled fisherman, you can quickly throw back the negative and the positive thoughts and nestle into the neutral mind. The sweet vibration of a mind that can rest.
To develop this skill we must first understand that we all have three minds. It is the negative mind that always arises first because it has developed the good habit of protecting you from harm. Like going across the street, the negative mind instructs you to stop, look and listen. One of the first teachings of safety the child learns. But so much negative chatter develops over the years that even when we are safe and comfortable in our bed we are bombarded with thoughts coming from nowhere and going nowhere and they might be coming so rapidly they cause tension and stress instead of sleep.
I had that experience last night, but it was the positive mind that kept biting on the ego mind’s “hook”. The positive mind is the beneficial mind of projection. It is a useful tool that helps us create and manifest but when out of control it can cause unrest and anxiety when trying to sleep.
There are probably as many techniques to falling asleep and entering the neutral mind, a meditative state, as there are types of bait in a fisherman’s bait box. Which is your best bait for understanding how to calm the mind?
I’m asking you to stretch your imagination and “see” that we all have these three mind thought forms and for you to begin to identity the type of thinking that is crossing your mind. This is the first step in learning to meditate and also to fall asleep.
So often a person first learning to meditate will fall asleep! That is why it is good to develop a habit of meditating before bedtime. One way to meditate is to watch the breath. Watching our breath simply means to feel the sensation of the breath as it enters and exits the nostrils. To become aware of a single breath will cause the school of thoughts to swim around the mind and be less likely to take the bait and get hooked; keeping you awake. Because once a thought is on the hook of the mind it takes a skilled meditator to recognize a type of thought, allow it to wiggle about while examining it and then investigate if it is worth your energy and time and then to gently toss it back into the void from which it came. Letting it go.