Death Meditation

Death is not something which only needs to be accepted but once properly assimilated, it can become an inspiration to live. Below is what Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc said in his insightful Stanford commencement speech, "When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Death is an opportunity to look things back from the real end. And what it does is, bringing a right perspective to everything, what makes sense and what does not. What may be so much eating us now, will be totally not worth wasting even a moment. This is life! So full of change, dilemmas, dualities, drama, surprises and strangeness. One of the best exercise to do is what will you do if you that you are going to die in a moment, in one hour, in one day, in one week, in one month, in one year, and in one life. The meditations on these seven different time-frames covering from the present moment to the remaining life, can bring an amazing clarity in your life.

Death is an unavoidable Reality, an ultimate Truth. No matter how much we dislike death or try to ignore it, death is not going to go away. We have to confront it sooner or later. Everything gets over and nothing matters anymore whether any completed work, any unfinished business, unpaid bills, hatred, fights, intention of revenge, dreams, desires, ego, good, bad, right, wrong, rich, poor, named or defamed. Death is a finality. No more chances to correct or fix anything. So reminder of death, a final end, should make us complete our unfinished important tasks, keep us focused just like any deadline.

Give everything before you leave. One leaves completely empty handed and even has to renounce the body which is generally what we are the most attached to. Not having an infinite time in hand must create some sense of urgency to really figure out what to do with our lives as early as we can and then able to do enough action as per that new life plan. If we know that we will live forever then probably we might not get anything done thinking there is perpetual time to do anything, why to do it now? So our job should be to able to empty ourselves out during our lifetime. Death can come any moment and its time is unexpected.

Meditating about death is a very common practice in Buddhism as well as many other spiritual practices and cultures. Some people might find it as something negative but it can be actually quite meaningful and even life changing. It can bring a sense of responsibility motivating us to make the best use of this precious human birth for living a fulfilling life. Living fully every moment of the life and no matter what the problems are still being grateful for the life itself.

Here is one technique of Death Meditation:

  • In the night, while going to sleep, start the Death Meditation. Turn off any lights and sounds.
  • Lie down, relax the whole body as if it is dying.
  • Let your body completely go. Leave your body totally at the mercy of mother earth.
  • In few minutes, you can not move any part of your body, as if it is completely dead. Feel and experience death.
  • Your Mind should stop thinking as all the thoughts are associated with life. Mind might be resistive in the beginning with our instincts for survival, but release or rather drop Mind.
  • If thoughts try to come back, then be mindful of the dead state of the body, like a corpse.
  • It is okay to go to sleep while practicing Death Meditation. That way you will have a much more peaceful, quality and sound sleep and you will wake up fresh, more alive and full of blessed awareness.

This is one of the best way to be in touch with the reality of impermanence. The practice of Death Meditation helps practitioner overcome not only the excessive unreasonable fear of death, but also a lot of unreal fears which we unnecessary carry in our Mind. We realize that everything passes by, including us. We are a tourist on the planet. We are an observer, a watcher. We are just a witness of change. The world was before us and the world will be there after us. Life goes on, it comes and goes. Happiness and sorrow come and go. Good time and bad time come and go. Success and failure come and go. Thoughts good or bad come and go. Everything is transient, temporary for the time being whether it is treasure or a tear.

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