A couple of weeks ago in yoga, the teacher spoke about “savasana” (AKA: corpse pose or final relaxation) as being a practice in dying. A funny thought, to practice dying.
We’ve fostered a culture so paralyzed by fear of death that we barely even acknowledge its certainty. Yet, science, common sense and wisdom all tell us that our time will come. Along with everyone else’s.
Do we need to practice dying? In “The Power of Now”, Echkart Tolle talks about actions of the ego being an attempt to avoid facing the eventuality of death, which manifests as a feeling of not being whole or good enough. In pursuit of wholeness, we seek jobs, relationships, religion, politics, money, things, power, drugs, alcohol, etc.
But at the end of each pursuit, we find just another hole to fill. Tolle concludes by saying that “The secret of life is to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death.”
Of course he’s being flowery. But he’s speaking of a different type of death altogether, which is best saved for another entry. But clearly we have a choice – to practice moving into stillness or continue on in chaos.
Have you ever noticed what happens when you try to close your eyes and sit still while you’re awake and alert? Mayhem of the mind. When I teach yoga I can’t help but take notice of how uncomfortable most people are in their own skin when we slow down and stop moving.
They say sleep is death’s cousin. In my experience, the same people who can’t lay still on the ground for two minutes are the same ones who have trouble sleeping. Why? Because they’re prisoners of their own mind. Bound by the balls and chains of fear and self-doubt, they continually doom themselves to unconscious decision making, with frequently dastardly results.
Yesterday Robert Burns, a Criminal District Judge for Dallas County, posted the following on Facebook:
Too much heartbreaking tragedy around Frank Crowley. I’m sick about Alex. We deal with very difficult subjects and heartbreaking cases on a daily basis. It grinds us down. Crowley folks, we’ve got to treat each other with compassion and care. Please remember that depression and substance abuse are diseases that kill. Please seek out a friend or professional help. There is no shame in needing or seeking help.
The man he’s speaking of is (at least) the second criminal defense attorney in Dallas County to commit suicide in the past year. And Friday night, I found myself at an art exhibit in Deep Ellum, commemorating the lives of two local band-mates who also both committed suicide within the last year. And about a week ago, I spoke with a friend who recently relapsed on hardcore drugs. He spoke of the same desire to “end it all”.
Suicide is so hard on everyone for so many reasons. It feels like a death game rule-breaker. Like it was untimely, and somehow not supposed to go down that way at all. Judge Burns wisely talks about substance abuse in the same sentence as depression, perhaps recognizing their connection.
But I think far before the game changer of taking your own life, we ignore all of the routine unconscious attempted suicides that we commit on ourselves, in an attempt to feel whole. Every time you had one too many and drove home. All the times you habitually put killers (food, smokes, drugs, alcohol, etc.) into your body. When you live your life to the beat of someone elses’ drum. Whatever.
Nobody is promised tomorrow. The time is now. Take off the blinders, be happy and prepare to die.