Keeping Death on Your Shoulder

Here we go people.

We’re all going to die.

It’s always a good idea to be aware of the nearness of death, for ourselves or for our loved ones, and in times like this, we seem to have less choice about it.

In this culture, we’re conditioned to fear death and so we create innumerable ways to distract ourselves from it.

But this is not a practice you want to adopt consciously.

Consciously, you want to cultivate, on deeper and deeper levels, the knowledge that death comes for everyone (your self included).

From there, it is wise to move towards acceptance of this fact.

Most of the people I know these days, are managing increased loads of fear and anxiety. If it’s not right there in the forefront, it’s hanging around in the background of your mind. It may very well be mixed with concern for fellow humans, with compassion and love.

It’s important to go towards the fear.

 I am offering here a practice for working skillfully with fear.

Take fear (or grief or sadness) as an object of contemplation every day or two.

The initial response to this idea might be dread, or the thought that this will be a gruesome past-time, but I think you will find the opposite is true. It can actually be a relief to look that demon in the face. Sometimes it can be quite energizing!

The way to do this is to take some time to sit quietly, maybe focus on the breath for a while.

Then gradually, bring the attention to the emotion that is at hand.

If death is up for you, bring your attention to death. If it’s fear or grief or sadness,

Bring your attention to those feelings.


Try to maintain some clarity in the mind as you do this. If you start to spin, or go down a rabbit hole, take some time to resettle, ground and re-connect with the breath. When you’re ready, reach out and touch that feeling again.


I find that when there is acute fear, it’s easy to locate it at a specific place in the body: there’s tightness in the chest, or the gut or stiffness in the back of the neck or lower back. Bring your mind into those sensations, hang out there and gently breathe into those sensations. Keep your (inner) eyes open, keep breathing and bringing your awareness into those scared places. As you do so, notice how the sensations start to shift. With that, the feelings will likely start to shift as well.

Stay with this as long as you like.

 At the end of this session, dedicate the benefit of the session to all beings:

“May all beings benefit from this time I have taken to confront my fear and calm myself down. May all beings know freedom from fear, illness and want.”

 It’s easy to consider that family members and friends will benefit from doing this work, but the benefit of this practice does ripple out into the global atmosphere, so please feel good about taking time to do this very important practice.

You could make this part of your daily practice.

Once you’ve calmed yourself down, you can also send Love and healing energy to people you know who are struggling, to cities where you know there are high rates of covid-19 infections, or to the entire planet who is in a healing crisis of her own.

Please do this practice, and if it works for you, please share it with others.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2020 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


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