Are You Living Or Dying?
Change can be scary. One thing that all of us living creatures have in common is that, at some point, our time here on earth will come to an end. There is no question that dying is the greatest change of all and the one that we fear most. This undeniable truth resides within us and is often at the root of what we do, what we say, how we act and react to life, people and situations. Though we are often not aware of it, this knowledge we have deep within us of the temporality of life colors our perceptions and shapes our experiences in a big way. One of the major manifestations of this tendency is in our desire and need to be in control of the circumstances of our life. When we feel as though we are in control, we get lulled into a sense of security and we forget for a moment that the world of forms, including our physical bodies, is impermanent. It is this desire for control and permanence that causes us to hold on too tight when life starts flowing, to stick to what is familiar, to need to be right and to play it safe. Similarly, this disposition shows up in our tendency to resist change, to be closed-minded and to contract in fear in the face of the unknown.
Broken down to the simplest of terms: at any given moment, we are either looking at life’s experiences through the lens of our fear of dying (“OMG…I’m gonna die!”) or through the lens of our love of life (“Thank You God…I’m ALIVE!). This can apply to something as small as a conversation in which a person shares a viewpoint that is contrary to what we believe, or something as significant as the decision to take a big risk on behalf of our dreams. In both cases, we are presented with something unfamiliar, be it an opinion or an opportunity, which challenges our desire to be in control. It is in this moment that we have the power to choose how we will respond. The foreign perspective or experience can be perceived as the ultimate threat a.k.a. death and can cause us to shut down, retreat in fear or even worse, fight for our life. Or we can remain open and explore it with a sense of curiosity, wonder and a sense of awe for life.
Whether we realize or not, we are making this subtle but significant choice constantly. Some days we wake up and we feel vibrant, inspired, excited and open to what the day will bring. We are truly LIVING life! Other days, we barely manage to get ourselves up out of bed; we mope around dragging our feet and with our heads hanging. On these days, it is as though we are dying. Deep down, underneath the surface, it is our focus on our existence as the experience of LIVING or DYING that creates our resulting state of being.
What I’m learning is that it is by fully acknowledging and accepting the impermanence of life, that we can overcome our fear of death and all of its trappings. Yes, we will die one day. Every single one of us. But guess what? We are ALIVE right now and so rather than live in fear of the end, we can choose to live life fully and celebrate the moment that we have right here, right NOW. When we live from this place, our perception of the unknown - new experiences, perspectives and opportunities - is transformed and we find ourselves in the flow of life, going with the current and enjoying the ride.
This does not mean that we will never experience fear, as it is part of our make-up and can sometimes serve to protect us from real danger. In instances where the danger is imminent, such as a fire or a car coming towards us, we will respond instantly and from a much deeper instinctual place. When the fear is more perceived than real, we can simply notice it and be with it until it is subsides. Only then can we make objective choices about how to proceed in the areas of relationships, careers and creative endeavors, rather than reacting from a place of feeling as though our life is on the line. This is the beginning of what it means to access our divinity and to live as though we are eternal.
We have to face our fear of death to be able to truly live. Until we do, we will never truly experience freedom and inner peace. Until we do, we will always stick to what we know, sit on the fence and miss out on real opportunities for growth and expansion, for the magic of life to unfold.
When you really take a close look, are you coming from a place of fear and focusing on death, scarcity and limitation, OR coming from a place of love and focusing on life, abundance and possibility?
The choice is yours and the quality of your life depends on it.
Written for The Daily Love (Sept. 18th, 2012)