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"Dying: Doing It Differently"


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Slides from a webinar presented on 10.12.12. The webinar is called “Dying – Doing It Differently”. Maneesha talks about how death is 'coming out of the closet'; the need to reverse the medicalisation of dying in order to acknowledge and support the hugely potential time that it is, psychologically and spiritually. She discusses why someone might want to die consciously; why just being alive isn't, in itself, the kind of preparation needed for a graceful, easy, even ecstatic dying; she points out the similarities between meditating and dying, and introduces the Sammasati Support-Person Training for 2013.

Included are a couple of meditations in which all are invited to participate, and some suggestions around being at the bedside of someone who is very ill or dying; and time for questions too.

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"Dying: Doing It Differently"

  1. 1. Dying: Doing It Differently with Maneesha James The Sammasati ProjectCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  2. 2. Who We Are  Maneesha James S.R.N., S.C.M., R.M.N. Grad. Dip. Psychotherapy & Counselling, Member of BACP Meditation Facilitator & Psychotherapist Co-founder The Sammasati Project & Co-Facilitator The Sammasati Support-Person Training  Sidika Petterson Communications & Graduate of The Sammasati Project Support-Person TrainingCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  3. 3. How to Participate Today • Open and close your Panel • View, Select, and Test your audio • Submit text questions • Raise your hand • Q&A addressed at the end of today’s session
  4. 4. Webinar Overview Introduction to Maneesha & The Sammasati Project The taboo around death 2 guided meditations The connection between meditation and dying The Sammasati Support-Person Training Basic ‘Being-with skills’ Q&ACopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  5. 5. Maneesha James through the yearsCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  6. 6. The Sammasati ProjectCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  7. 7. Our Mission Statement To support those who want to live – through the whole spectrum of living-health- sickness-recovery-dying – consciously and with greater joy. Our focus is currently on the Sammasati Support-Person Training offering psycho- spiritual support to the seriously ill and the dying – more about that laterCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  8. 8. The Sammasati Project: Our Plans Talks and workshops on meditation Education in the potential for transformation in dying A training for those wishing to support individuals through their illness back to health or through dying An outreach service to assist people through illness and/or dying A website with a toolkit of resources (including a support forum) for those wishing to live and die consciously with the aid of meditation Meditation-based hospices around the world Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  9. 9. What we’re on about  So this webinar’s theme is death & dying  Anyone here who thinks this topic isn’t applicable to them?!Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  10. 10. The Taboo of Death  Death is so morbid!  OK, others die, but not me!  Mention death and you’ll make it happenCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  11. 11. Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  12. 12. Recent History of Death Changes in the last 100 years – previously more childhood death, lower adult life expectancy The deathbed was often in the home; elderly often lived with the family, so people faced the reality of death as part of life Nowadays, death has been medicalised and many of us die in hospitals, it is more of an unknown so more fearedCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  13. 13. Fear of Death Fear based on losing what we have become deeply attached to Fear born of the misunderstanding that we are the body And there are other fears – that of going into the unknown; the fear of pain; the fear of feeling abandoned, of being alone; that those we leave behind will not be able to manage without us; a fear that we have wasted our life and now it is too late to do anything about it; and, for some, the fear of retribution, of being judged and found wantingCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  14. 14. Death: Coming out of the closet Death Cafes in the UK & US The Natural Death Centre;; Transitus Respecting people’s right to know they are dying and to prepare The right to end one’s own life Literature on death Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  15. 15. Prepare to die!  Dying can be prepared for, and part of that preparation will include consciously addressing fears.  Then there’s an opening to understand the enormous potential in dyingCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  16. 16. How can we prepare to die? Some people say that “Living is the best preparation for dying” If death tapped me on my shoulder right now… Some people explain that they are too busy living to give energy to deathCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  17. 17. The living-dying continuum Death is a natural process – part of the continuum of life We are really living-dying all the time The same tendencies in our living will still be in play through dying – both so-called positive and negative. You take on the whole package: life and death The interplay of living-dying in our breathing Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  18. 18. Breath-Watching Technique  Ensure that you will not be disturbed  Make yourself comfortable  I’ll guide you through the very simply steps so you can allow your eyes to closeCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  19. 19. Watching the in- and the out- breath Each in breath, taking in life Each out breath, letting go of life The body is so relaxed you feel you can observe it there, separate from you And if any thoughts or feelings or physical sensations intervene, noticing when that happens, bringing your awareness back to watching the breathCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  20. 20. Watching the gaps Notice the gaps The gaps may become longer, without any effort Enjoy that feeling of complete relaxation, of letting go totally… You are simply aware, watching…You are simply consciousness….Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  21. 21. Watching the whole cycle…Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  22. 22. What can we learn through this small technique? Benefits: 1) Moving voluntarily from the outer to the inner 2) Allowing, rather than doing 3) Voluntarily relaxing 4) Moving from the personality to spaciousness 5) Being in the present 6) A living understanding of the interconnectedness between inhaling and exhaling, between living and dying, 7) The choice to notice thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and to let them pass by Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  23. 23. More Benefits…  8) The experience of oneself as that which is separate from the body, as the watching consciousness, sammasati  9) Trust and dropping control  10)Stillness, silence, peaceCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  24. 24. What’s the relevance of meditation in dying and why would I want to die consciously? Many valuable keys that are relevant when we are sick or dying Specific methods to address diverse concerns The meditative methods that we can use in life to avoid becoming overwhelmed with anxiety, our various fears, to de-stress, to stay centred, open and in contact with our hearts, may be just as relevant when we are dyingCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  25. 25. Meditation and dying The process we enter in a passive meditation method is very similar to dying: Close our eyes Relax, let go of any need to control Leave the outer world for our interior one Leave behind the personality, our sense of individuality, and become one with a vaster energy Sammasati:discover or remember ourselves the watching consciousness that which is beyond the bodymind. Move from relating to the other, to being alone, in self- relating Move from doing to simply being Move into the unknownCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  26. 26. Die before you die  Meditating provides a natural and simple way to consciously ‘die before you die’  If we are meditators, when our time comes, the process is familiar to us  If we know how to let go consciously and voluntarily, can there be a better way to enter dying?Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  27. 27. Dying Consciously  A moving account of a conscious passage into dying: When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone by Phillip GouldCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  28. 28. Phillip Gould “My death became my life. And my life gained a kind of intensity that it had never had before. It gained a quality and a power it had never had before.” “The unvarnished certainty that you are going to die …is an immensely powerful thing. It provides the opportunity for fulfilment and the experience of extraordinary depths of feeling, and the chance of reconciliation that would never otherwise occur.” “Death is a time for immense change and transformation, a time to fulfil yourself and others, and a chance, in a small way, to change the world…”Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  29. 29. Death: A unique opportunity  Clearly, approached with awareness and openness, dying is not – or need not be – a calamity but a unique opportunity, even the crescendo, the peak of our life’s experience  And Now And Here by the mystic Osho can help you to understand the significance of meditation and dying consciouslyCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  30. 30. Questions? Any questions so far?Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  31. 31. Medicalised death Richard Barnett writes of the ‘sterility and inhumanity of modern, medicalised death’ and how – by ensuring that death [takes] place under medical supervision in medical institutions, the medical profession [has] ‘obscured the personal and social process of dying’ – and I would add the ‘psycho-spiritual aspects too.’ (‘A Brief History of Modern Death’) The potential inherent in dying– the psycho- spiritual aspect of dying – is not the domain of doctors As so vividly described by Lord Gould, lived through with awareness, dying can be deeply transformative.Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  32. 32. Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  33. 33. From fear to …? To address our fears is certainly an important step Energetically fear is a contracted state; when we’re fearful, anxious, we contract internally What makes us feel just the converse – open, trusting, relaxed, expanded? Love!Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  34. 34. The Light of Love Meditation Make sure you are undisturbed, and be in a comfortable position Stage 1: I shall be guiding you throughout so you can allow your eyes to close If it helps you to be in contact with your heart, you might like to place a hand there. And let your awareness rest there, at your heart centreCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  35. 35. The stages Stage 1 – Recall Love: Recall the face of someone you feel loved by Or simply feel the presence of Love itself On each inhalation: inhale feel that you are taking that love – as a soft, golden light – into your heart. On each exhalation…sending that love, that light that has filled your heart, into the rest of your body Stage 2 – Rest in love: And finally, for the next few moments, simply resting in that feeling of being filled with love’s light…Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  36. 36. A turning point Encouraging the addressing of our fears around dying is an important part of easing someone through the dying process. And there is a whole other dimension beyond that too And consider this, that… This might be the first time the dying person has turned inwards The first time they are asking themselves: Who am I? They may be asking other significant existential questionsCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  37. 37. As at birth…so at death  As we do for birthing, we can – and should – consciously prepare for dying  Dying can be as celebrative as birthing  Another kind of midwifeCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  38. 38. The Sammasati Support-Person Training The Sammasati Support-Person Training is designed to help through illness and dying those who like to use whatever happens for their inner growth, those who want to be present to their dying as they are to their living. The Sammasati vision is based on that of the mystic Osho. A meditative approach to all aspects of living, including dying No one to follow; no belief system to take on An openness and willingness to experiment, taking on everything as a ‘working hypothesis’Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  39. 39. Merely changing form…Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  40. 40. Training Facilitators  Myself, Maneesha James  Sudheer Niet: meditation facilitator; hypnotherapy and NLP trainerCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  41. 41. Two aspects of the training  The Training is two-pronged:  A unique opportunity to explore your own relationship with death  Skills to support someone else who is dying, who wants to stay as present as possible, and to have the support of meditators.  As Osho says, this is ‘greatest gift’ we can give to anyone – to be present, with love and awareness, supporting them through this journeyCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  42. 42. Brief description of the trainingCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  43. 43. Module 1: Experiential Enquiry Doctor and author Michael Murphy suggests, ‘If there is no training, and [support people] have not taken conscious heed of their own loneliness and disconnection, no wonder that there is bluster and fear [about dying]. Since dying involves body, soul, and spirit… lectures or instruction manuals are inadequate since feelings are very much involved. In order to be a truly competent guide, [the support person’s] training needs to be very personal, helping him to imagine his own dying and the dying of those he loves. Only then will he be in a more comfortable position to help others, since he himself will be able to become more a witness and guide.’ (The Wisdom of Dying: Practices for Living). Safe and supportive environment Structures and meditation that enable us to address our feelings around our own deathCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  44. 44. Module 2 Client Issues and Possible Responses  What is ‘a conscious death’?  What might impede it?  Ways to respond to shock, anxiety and depression  Meditation  Basic relating skillsCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  45. 45. Module 3 Deepening; Issues of the Psyche; Being-with Skills and Relaxation  Deepening relating skills  Continued introduction to meditation methods  An introduction to the art of self-hypnosis; how to induce a state of deep relaxation in ourselves and in the otherCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  46. 46. Module 4 Sickness and a Conscious Death How to support someone who wants to remain responsive and present to the experience of their dying? Is there a place for The Bardo Thodol (The Tibetan Book of the Dead) in a contemporary context? Physical signs and symptoms of dying Advanced Planning (The Living Will) Ethics and some of the issues around euthanasiaCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  47. 47. Module 5 Pain Management; Teaching Meditation; Self Care  The various forms of non-medical pain relief that are available  Discussion and practice around teaching meditation  Some guidance on working with clients and how to promote yourself  Revision of the trainingCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  48. 48. What’s unique about the training…  Its foundational understanding being that a conscious death offers an unprecedented opportunity for inner growth  That there can be joy even in the seemingly bleakest moments  Meditation-based and with facilitators who are meditators  The experiential component  The learning how to voluntarily enter the experience of letting go, and how to pass that on to others  The development of participants’ own state of consciousnessCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  49. 49. What will I gain from the training? An intimate, lived understanding of what your own death means to you A deepened state of meditation The ability to be fully present, with love and awareness, when with someone at one of the most vulnerable and sacred times in their life Psychological and meditative skills for supporting consciousness in illness and dying A loving and safe space to process emotions which are inevitably triggered by the nature of this work A support group of fellow trainees Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  50. 50. What will I gain from the training? Cont/… An appreciation of the relevance of meditation in all aspects of life The acquisition of a variety of meditations to enhance everyday life as well as the last phase of life Ongoing support after the year’s training, through mentoring and Professional Development sessions (workshops and seminars and online webinars). A possible radical change in your appreciation of what it is to be alive, here and now.Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  51. 51. Some testimonials from training graduates "I am more conscious that everything has a beginning and an end… A window has been opened where I can be more real. I no longer need to close my eyes to my imperfections in order to defend myself.. I can be me. A new wave of health is coming up in my psyche. I am a human being. I am vulnerable. I am finite. And despite all that, I still can be. Life happens…Things can be fascinating without needing to be anything in particular. I do not need to be special. I can be human, simple, weak, vulnerable, and still worthy." (Priya Alvarez, Spain)Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  52. 52. Some testimonials from training graduates cont/… “Living a life where each moment I am preparing for my own death is very different from living with the focus on being right, getting a date, making money, avoiding pain, etc. Long story short, I sit quietly for many hours a day with a level of peace I have never known before.” (Nityanando, USA) “There was such loving energy throughout …and for me personally a great amount of learning, and golden keys to work on myself in my everyday living.” (Cristina Grassl, Italy) Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  53. 53. Some photos from the training…Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  54. 54. To connect with us about the training  Check out our detailed Sammasati Support-Person Training page on the website:  Email us at  Call us on +44 (0)7871 611692Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  55. 55. Keeping connectedCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  56. 56. Spreading the word…  Please help us spread the word about The Sammasati Project  Recommend our website and newsletter to your friends & colleagues  ‘Like’ us on Facebook and share our posts  Subscribe to us on YouTube and share our videos  Retweet us  Contact us for flyersCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  57. 57. Funding and sponsorshipCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  58. 58. A few ‘being-there’ suggestions for when with the dying Physical needs Physical proximity Allowing silence Synchronise your breathing Touch can be very reassuring Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  59. 59. A few ‘being-there’ suggestions for when with the dying Cont/… • Reflective listening Use affirming gestures e.g. nodding, smiling, and sounds or words such as ‘Mmm’, ‘Aha’ ‘I see.’ ‘Yes.’ Avoid question-asking (beyond the practical ones such as: Are you comfortable? How is it for you to have me here?) No need to try fix them/make things better They may want to talk with you, get things off their chest. It can be immensely helpful and comforting if you just listenCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  60. 60. In conclusion… Death is coming out of the closet Facing our own issues around death helps us support others who are dying As we live, so shall we die Meditation – as the state of self-as- consciousness – provides the basis of an experiential approach to dying A ‘midwife’ or support-person to the dying can be invaluable Dying can be a celebrative & hugely potential timeCopyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  61. 61. Graduates of The Sammasati Support-Person Training Come join us!Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project
  62. 62. Q&A Please ask any questions by typing them into the chat box You can also click the Hand Raise icon Sidika will pick some questions and read them – please put ‘Anon’ or ‘Private’ if you don’t want your name read out If you have further questions, please send them to 2012 The Sammasati Project
  63. 63. Thank you!Copyright 2012 The Sammasati Project