Tag Archives: Alphacat

In the “Hot Seat” with Nicole Daedone: How Liberated Are You?

You may think you’re an open book – free from inhibitions, liberated, and forward-thinking. But put that to the test in a game of “Hot Seats” and you may start feeling differently.

There’s a distinction, of course, between living in a free and liberated way and actually discussing your beliefs and practices with other people, especially strangers. But Nicole Daedone, sexual health pioneer and founder of the OM (Orgasmic Meditation) method, is out to break down these barriers and inhibitions. In this episode of “30 Days of Intent” on The Chopra Well, Natalie Spilger and Iman Crosson (Alphacat) sit down with Nicole and several other guests for an intimate and at times uncomfortable game. Who seems the most/least willing to share?

Granted, there’s no need to go around discussing your sexuality with everyone you come in contact with. But there’s something to be said for creating a bit of flexibility in the topics we deem appropriate for conversation, especially with something so close to our health and happiness. And becoming fluent in expressing these habits, preferences, needs, and desires could do wonders for your relationships, and for your own self-esteem. Just saying…

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When Does Your Personal Growth Journey End?

“We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Where does personal growth begin and end? With your first visit to the metaphysical bookstore and your last session of therapy? Unlikely. The process of becoming – self, whole, enlightened, fulfilled – is a lifelong adventure.

In the final episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT on The Chopra Well, Natalie and Iman sit down with Deepak Chopra to discuss their amazing journey of the last few weeks. From watsu massage to kundalini yoga, spiritual psychology to death and dying, they not only got a thorough review of the wellness options in Southern California, but they also took a tour of their own inner worlds. And what a trip it was!

Their final experience on the show was a death and dying dinner with hospice nurse Laurel Lewis, Deepak, Mallika, and several friends. Considering death seems to be an apt way to close the show. As Deepak tells Natalie in their debrief, many of the personal growth tools they explored provide peak experiences that temporarily jolt them from the mundane and into heightened awareness. But this level of consciousness is equally attainable through mindfulness. Meditating on death and, by association, what it means to be alive, can start attuning us to the true nature of our paths. Who am I? What is my purpose? These guiding questions act as the compass, ever directing us toward wholeness. Flaws, memories, ambitions, and all.

This lesson resonates deeply with both Iman and Natalie, in slightly different ways. At the beginning of the experience, just coming out of a long-term relationship, Iman emphasized purity. He intended to chip away at his identity, rid himself of unwanted attributes. Over the course of the journey, but particularly during the difficult and cathartic therapy session with Alyssa Nobriga, Iman’s focus shifted. Balance, rather than purity, became his goal. It’s about loving and accepting yourself, as opposed to striving in vain to fit some mold of perfection.

For Natalie, who struggled with self-criticism and judgement throughout the show, learning to have compassion for herself became key. She intended, at first, to realize her full potential and focus on “being” rather than “doing.” What she came to see, however, was that she lacked the self-love necessary to get herself there. In the end, she left with the intent to be her own best friend, to love and support herself unconditionally. Both Natalie and Iman’s new intentions – balance and self-care – are among the hardest but most essential lessons that move us toward transformation.

It would be impossible to say at what moment in the journey these realizations emerged. But there is one thing that is certain:

Shifting awareness onto transformation is the first step. Set the intent to grow, to learn, to become radically and unashamedly yourself. By participating in 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Natalie and Iman focused attention onto their own health and wellbeing, sending themselves the message, “Yes, I am worth it.” Personal growth is an opt-in adventure that you can start right now, and which ends…never.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay tuned for amazing new shows in the weeks to come!

photo by: Gane

10 Tips on Dying with Dignity

By Laurel Lewis

These tips come from my experience of being with hundreds of people as they have died and with the thousands of family members who have witnessed this event. Consider using these tips for dying well… and for living well!

10. Talk about what you do and don’t want.

Tell your family, friends and doctors how you want to be treated and what kind of treatments you want or don’t want! Consider a living will or other advance directives so that your wishes will be known prior to end of life choices. Consider your needs: physical, emotional and spiritual because they all impact your final days.

9. Have a life review. Recall significant and meaningful events .

Share your stories either verbally or written with your loved ones, in a journal or on tape. As you do this forgive yourself and others for everything! Let go of judgments. Judging people and events take up precious energy that could be spent loving instead. Release the judgments and allow yourself to be fully present to what is in your life right now.

8. Express gratitude daily – for something, anything!

This will help move you from the context of small self who is dying to connect with the bigger part of Life that is surrounding us always. Expressing gratitude creates a positive shift in our mental state, which in turn has positive physical benefits.

7. Connect with something more than yourself.

Connect with your family, your friends, nature, art, pets, your God, Spirit, your ideals. Allow yourself to belong to something more than yourself so that when you die, you will be connected to those things in which you invested your time and energy.

6. Be authentic and transparent.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Express yourself courageously holding nothing back. Your vulnerability will be rewarded with intimacy. Allow yourself to feel your feelings – all of them. You are allowed to be just as you are. Give yourself permission to explore this concept and to explore really being YOU! This is the time to do it.

5. Be optimistic and realistic about what is happening.

Expect the best while being prepared for the worst. This can be challenging but from my experience, extremely rewarding. Put your affairs in order. Write your will, choose a mortuary, talk about your funeral, talk about what’s happening in order to bring understanding to your experience and alleviate confusion for your loved ones.

4. Accept what is as it is happening.

No one can really know what you are going through. This is your private journey. All we can do is support and love you. It is true that we are all going to die, but not all of us have the experience of the deathbed. As you find yourself contemplating death and accepting this inevitability look for the places inside that fight against this reality. There is a quote I like that captures this theme, “When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.” ~ Byron Katie

As you gracefully yield to your body’s end, you may indeed find peace, joy, and pleasures in the days you have left surrounded by love and loved ones.

3. Say please and thank you.

These words express kindness, respect, and appreciation and will elicit positive responses from everyone who is close to you. The energy behind these words is powerful and respectful. Even if someone has to wipe your butt in your final days you can still maintain a dignified experience simply by the energy of your presence.

2. Look people in the eye.

People generally don’t know how to behave around someone who is nearing the end of life. This is an opportunity to “get real”, to allow yourself to be seen, really seen. Gazing into someone’s eyes without words allows our hearts to connect at a very deep level and can be very satisfying and rewarding.

1. Breath.

While you have Life moving through you, allow it to move through you. When you feel tight or anxious: breathe. When you feel sad or tired: breathe. When you feel angry or hurt: breathe. Consciously breathe and open yourself up to the present moment. Allow Life to reveal its preciousness to you for as long as you can and with all of the awareness you have. Live until you die.

If you are interested to know more please contact me through LaurelLLewis.com.

I am happy to share more from my years of hospice work and research and my personal transformation of dealing with the sudden loss of my husband at the age of 27.

Thank you and bless you.

~

Laurel Lewis, a registered nurse and hospice provider who features on The Chopra Well show, 30 DAYS OF INTENT, shares her tips for dying with dignity. The end of life can be an extremely difficult time, as Laurel has witnessed in her many years as a hospice nurse. Her tips address the healthiest ways to confront death and meet a happy, satisfying end.

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Should We Discuss Death at the Dinner Table?

In the latest episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Natalie and Iman join Laurel Lewis, Deepak Chopra, Mallika Chopra and friends for a “Death and Dying Dinner.” We interviewed Laurel on the significance of these dinners. Click here to read Part 1 of Laurel’s interview, on the importance of contemplating death.

The Chopra Well: The notion of a “death and dying dinner” is pretty unique! Most people will do anything they can NOT to think about death. Why do you think that is?

Laurel Lewis: Most people choose not to focus on end of life issues, certainly not their own. Our culture does not encourage this discussion. We have been conditioned not to consider death and dying. We try so desperately to avoid all things which we believe will cause us discomfort. Death certainly falls into that category. What people don’t realize is that by moving through the discomfort of facing their fears they actually free up some life force which can be used to fuel their present day experience. It takes courage, curiosity and willingness to examine one’s own end.

We all know, death is coming. It’s just a matter of time. I’m amazed that we don’t teach courses on death and dying in elementary school! We prepare for everything we want to succeed in in life. Having a peaceful death seems like something we should be preparing ourselves for with more discipline and interest. Death somehow did not make the list of things in which one can succeed at in life. A bit ironic, I know, but I aim to change that.

CW: So once you introduce people to the idea of a death and dying dinner, how do they react? And how does the event usually go over?

LL: When I talk about the death and dying dinner party people are generally either very curious or completely uninterested. I have not found too many people in the middle. Those who have a negative reaction to this themed dinner party are simply not ready to face this topic for whatever reason. I respect that. I am content knowing that this venue will be available to them when and if they would like to discover more about death and dying.

People who are interested think it’s a great, novel idea. They wonder what we talk about, how many people show up, what do they have to talk about, what qualifies them to attend and then they want to know when the next dinner is. These dinners have been ongoing monthly for over 2 years now. Hundreds of people have shown up not really knowing what they were getting into. People who show up with a bit of anxiety or fear always leave feeling more relaxed around the topic. They seem to leave offering words like: inspired, calm, grateful, content, connected, respected, surprised, elated, full and open.

No two dinners are the same, because the mix of people is different for every dinner. These dinners are for anyone interested to explore any aspect of death and dying in an intimate, safe, respectful place.

CW: You say the trick to dying well is living well. What can we do to “live well”?

LL: What I have seen is that, generally speaking, how we relate to the deathbed is how we relate to life. Knowing this can be a great gauge so that you might guess what kind of dying patient you would make. You can either be a victim of this life or be a unique expression of this life now coming to completion. I say if you want to die well, meaning with grace, patience, ease, wisdom, courage, confidence and love, then do your best to live well. Start with cultivating qualities that you admire in yourself or others that tend to impact not only your good but the greater good as well. Consider doing the following in order to live well:

1. Practice accepting what is, changing what you can, then letting the rest go.

2. Offer gratitude daily, for everything! Because even the most painful challenges we face can bring us our greatest gifts.

3. Explore your creative impulse, because you have something in you that no one else does and sharing it can feel so good.

4. Contemplate your death so as to live your life more fully, with more appreciation, courage, and compassion.

5. Share your love. Unexpressed love is one of the dying person’s greatest regrets.

6. Forgive yourself for all of the judgments that your mind is holding onto. Forgive others too! Not just in your head, feel it in your heart.

7. Be present. This is the only moment we ever have.

8. Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Give your inner critic and inner judge some time off. You are your best resource, learn to cultivate a loving relationship with yourself.

This is a good start for planning a graceful transition. And this list will have you feeling better about yourself and your life no matter how much time you have left. I have so much gratitude for the opportunity to share some of these ideas with you. I hope they enrich your life. I send big love to each of you and blessings to carry you through your journey.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss the final episode of Natalie and Iman’s journey on 30 DAYS OF INTENT this Thursday!

Visit Laurel Lewis’ website for more information on Death and Dying Dinner Parties.

Would you go to a Death and Dying Dinner? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section! And stay tuned for Laurel’s guest blog post tomorrow – “10 Tips on Dying with Dignity.”

Self-Forgiveness on the Path to Freedom

Imagine the person you love most in your life, the person you pour your time and affection into. Think about all the energy and care you put into your relationship with this person, the mistakes you’ve forgiven, the flaws you’ve come to cherish. What a gift it is to love. And what a gift for that person to be loved by you.

Now consider this… Do you love yourself as completely and effortlessly as you love this other person? Imagine having that immense reservoir of attention and care on hand at all times, available to dip into whenever you need it. In the latest episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT on The Chopra Well, Natalie and Iman meet with counselor Alyssa Nobriga for a lesson in self-forgiveness, perhaps one of the most powerful tools of self-care.

Many think self-love is just a form of narcissism, but the purest love knows no conceit. From a spiritual perspective, loving the self communicates humility and gratitude to whatever force gives us life. From a pragmatic perspective, studies show that self-forgiveness reduces procrastination, helps us break negative habits, and promotes personal growth.

As Alyssa tells Natalie and Iman, we have at our disposal a peacefulness in our hearts that largely remains untapped day to day. It is a space of softness, free from judgement and criticism. People often describe the feeling of letting go of anger, resentment, or guilt as similar to taking a deep breath. A huge weight is lifted. In this vein, Alyssa leads them through a self-forgiveness exercise to tap into that space of peaceful self-love. Back and forth Natalie and Iman take turns saying “I forgive myself for….” And one after another layers of pain and self-anger peel away. The key is to choose healing, to choose wholeness and empathy. Feeling remorse is fine, in fact it can drive us to apologize and make amends when we’ve done wrong. But this is very different from clinging to our faults like a poison. We can decide, instead, to be our own best friend, the one whose desire and intention is perfectly aligned with our greatest good.

What would you like to forgive yourself for? With the year coming to a close, let now be the time. Try Alyssa’s exercise and let us know how it goes in the comments section below the video.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss the 30 DAYS OF INTENT finale next week!

 

Image courtesy of weheartit.com.

Master the Art of Empathy

In today’s episode on 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Iman and Natalie meet with Diana Castle for an acting lesson and empathy workshop. Diana teaches theater through her original method, THE IMAGINED LIFE™, which emphasizes the role of empathy in creating and portraying dramatic roles. We interviewed Diana on the importance of empathy, on stage and in the world.

The Chopra Well: You are an acting instructor and also teach empathy skills. How are empathy and acting related?

Diana Castle: Acting is all too often thought of and even encouraged to be a narcissistic profession – and yes, there are plenty of cultural narcissists today. However the truth in the art of acting is to be found in the heart of empathy. A great actor is that human being who is willing to exchange his or her personal interpretive framework for an alternative interpretive framework, or as Atticus Finch said in To Kill A Mockingbird, to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.

We learn and experience more about ourselves from accepting other people’s stories as a possibility for us. Accepting the human story as our own, I call “living from the I AM.”  When we accept every part as a part of us, we learn to live a more integrated, whole-hearted life. The art of acting is living from imagined possibility and so is the art of empathy.

CW: Why is empathy so important – not just for acting, but for life in general?

DC: There would be less fighting with each other and more dialogue, education and cultural exchange. As we widen our empathetic embrace, we widen our experience of the world. That’s what happens when we go see a movie or a play or read a book that affects us emotionally.

The individual strings of our independent identity are only parts reflecting the whole.  If we lose our capacity to put ourselves into other peoples shoes, we lose our capacity to experience what is the truth of our inter-relatedness and interdependence. When we lose that, we lose our connection to the fact that if we try to destroy others we only destroy ourselves. This includes our environment which is a reflection of our empathetic embrace as well.

CW: Is it hard to practice empathy? As you say, the world would be a very different place if everyone lived intentionally and empathetically. What gets in our way?

DC: Our Ego. Our Ego is vital of course for discerning: “I’m in here and you’re out there.” However, neuroscience now teaches us that if you lose your arm and have phantom limb pain and someone sits in front of you, mirroring you, and gets their arm massaged, your phantom limb gets relief!

Shakespeare’s advice to the players in Hamlet when he encourages them to “hold the mirror up to nature” should now be thought of as holding the “mirror neurons” up to nature! This is the amazing truth of life. What happens to you actually is happening to me.

CW: Do you have any simple tips or strategies for practicing empathy that we can incorporate into our daily lives?

DC: When we experience a belief or behavior we don’t like or understand, a good reaction to practice is: “That’s me!” “Hello, myself!”

In the daily practice of seeing in others a reflection of our possible selves we start with: I ACCEPT this belief and behavior as a possibility for me. I don’t encourage asking “Why?” does he or she behave this way. I encourage accepting the beliefs and behaviors as a possibility for you.

My rule for actors when they are asked to believe and behave in ways they don’t understand is: Don’t ask why. Justify. We can always justify any behavior through conditions and circumstances. This is what allows for empathy with the human character as opposed to ideas of “other” and creating caricatures.

Try this exercise:

There is no “other”- there is only “I AM”

I AM is a state of pure possibility.

I AM… you finish that sentence. No one finishes it for you. It’s a state of pure creativity. It’s a state of acceptance and possibility.

It’s a pure IMAGINED LIFE™ moment.

When we stop trying to figure out why people believe and behave in the ways that they do with our left brain and use our right brain to imaginatively accept the I AM –  the beliefs and behaviors as possibilities of ourselves – then we come to understand people in very profound ways. We begin to recognize our many varied selves in the mirror. The mirror neurons, I should say.

CW: The story you share at the end of the episode from Rilke’s Letter to a Young Poet is beautiful and so inspiring. What is your “I Must” and how has it helped shaped your intentions throughout your life?

DC: I must transform misunderstanding into understanding, suspicion into trust, division into unity.

This begins with transforming my own misunderstanding, my own suspicion and my own inner divisiveness. Because my father survived Hitler’s holocaust and I was raised in the deep south, I have been challenged to become a person who trusts humanity. This challenge became my benefit as I discovered the arts and found the great power of empathy that is housed in art. I deeply believe in arts education as the vital tool for developing empathy. This led me to formulating and teaching my IMAGINED LIFE™ philosophy and practical application.

I must, as Rilke says, “order my life” each day “according to the necessity.”

I must participate in the collective effort to build an empathetic civilization heart to heart, life to life, one person, one engagement at a time.

 

Watch the “Mastering Empathy” episode and then let us know your “I must” in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and catch the rest of Iman and Natalie’s journey on 30 DAYS OF INTENT!

Power Yoga: The Most Spiritual Workout In Town

“If you have a good mental practice but you’re not connected to your body, you’re fractured. If you have a good physical practice but you’re not connected to your spirit, you’re fractured. Yoga is about being whole.”

In the latest episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT on The Chopra Well, Natalie and Iman meet with power yoga instructor Rudy Mettia. With a background in the U.S. Marine Corps, Rudy now specializes in teaching yoga to veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is known for his sharp wit and high energy yoga classes that emphasize athleticism in harmony with philosophy and spiritual reflection.

Walking into Rudy’s class, Natalie and Iman are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Natalie, a former pro soccer player with 3+ years of yoga experience, moves through the sequence with strength and poise. As a novice, Iman struggles and sweats to make it through the class. The disparity between their experiences highlights an important aspect of Power Yoga, as described by the practice’s West coast founder, Bryan Kest: Everyone’s body is different, and everyone is bound to get something different out of the class. Power yoga only promises to be rigorous and grounded in that mind-body connection Rudy describes, quoted above. Each individual practitioner pushes his or her body to its unique limit, while simultaneously exercising tranquility of mind.

If you wander into a class at the Santa Monica power yoga studio, you’ll find a room packed with sweating, grunting yogis whose calm faces belie their exerted muscles. It’s in the contradictions – mind and body, pain and serenity – that true growth occurs. This is what makes yoga such a powerful tool for transformation, if you know how to wield it.

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108 Prostrations: The Discipline Behind Zen Buddhism

In the latest episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT on The Chopra Well, Natalie and Iman meet with Senior Dharma Teacher Jim Pallet for a lesson in Zen Buddhism. Little did they know they were signing up for 108 devotional bows – just the regular, daily fare for students at the Dharma Zen Center in Los Angeles where Jim teaches. Despite being heralded for its tranquil, meditative quality, Zen is actually a highly disciplined lifestyle. Consider this next time you say you’re going to “be zen” about something…

Every day, residents at the Dharma Zen Center rise at 5:30 am to 108 prostrations, followed by an hour of chanting and meditation. They end the day with another hour and a half meditation and chanting session, and some nights keep going for an extra hour or two for long stretches of sitting meditation. The time in between these morning and evening sessions is filled with personal practice, study, and chores. Lay residents may leave for work or school, returning in time for the second round of sessions every day. Regardless of their personal dharma, every resident at the center is expected to contribute to the communal living space, whether that means washing windows, sweeping patios or cleaning toilets. And by maintaining the space and cleaning externally, they simultaneous “clean inward” and attain higher levels of clarity.

To someone not immersed in a Zen lifestyle, the practice may seem overwhelmingly regimented. Who has the discipline to wake up at 5:30 am (not to mention the hip flexors to remain in seated meditation for hours on end)? But as Jim explains, he maintains the practice in part because it makes his life easier. His mind feels less cluttered while he’s immersed in Zen, deriving clarity and focus from the devotion. The takeaway for Natalie and Iman? Practice silence and find the beauty in simplicity.

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photo by: Denish C

Who Were You in a Past Life?

As part of their journey on 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Iman and Natalie meet with Michael Hayes for a past life reading. They don’t know what to expect going into it and are pretty surprised with the results! You can watch the episode by clicking on the annotation at the end of our “Last Wishes” episode (see below) or by clicking the link at the end of this article. We interviewed Michael Hayes on past lives, karma, and what we can do to improve this life.

The Chopra Well: In one of our ancillary episodes, you sit down with Natalie and Iman and read their past lives. It’s amazing! How does it work?

Michael Hayes: When I begin to work with a person I look at them spiritually, meaning that I look at who they are beyond their personality and present day presentation. In doing this, I often become aware of the greater story of their existence, that goes far beyond the limited vantage point they have about their lives. Many times they are obstructed in creatively manifesting their goals and dreams, in fulfilling a greater potential, because of unresolved issues from a past life. When the person receives necessary information from that particular past life, they are freed from unconscious attachment to that past and their energy and intention can now be more fully available to them. My intention is not to take someone back to a past life but to free them from it, so that all of who they are is available to them here and now.

How I do it is harder to explain because it is not so much a technique as that I am able to do it as a byproduct of my awakening. I see and hear the information very much like watching a movie, but it is more precise than that because I get inner direction on what is important for the person to know about what is being revealed. Knowing what not to say as well as what to say is the real art of the process and that ability seems to have increased through many years of practice.

CW: Can you see your own karma? If so, is that jarring?

MH: It is much harder to see my own karma because I am in it, but I have looked at a lot of it. It has been jarring at times, but really it has been a much more liberating experience that has explained the challenges and blessings of my life.

CW: Reflecting on her session, Natalie says that she wants to explore her past lives more but is worried people will think she’s “lost her marbles.” What would you say to someone with similar concerns?

Michael sits across from Natalie and reads her past lives

MH: I am a proponent of doing what works, and if looking at one’s life from the perspective of having many embodiments brings healing and understanding then I think it is worth considering. When I started to remember past lives and to see the past lives of other people I wondered if I was crazy and what other people would think. I was raised to not believe in reincarnation and only after seeing the positive transformation of many people’s lives through the sharing of what I saw did I really accept it. Inevitably, those who choose the path of self-discovery will have those around them who question their choices and involvements. But our lives are our own and if we hold back from living in accordance with our deepest yearnings we will miss our greatest fulfillment. Fortunately we will get other chances to be true to ourselves; as many as we need.

CW: Why is it important to consider past lives? How can understanding our past lives help us in this life?

MH: The only good reason to consider past lives is the assistance it can give us in living this life more effectively. I am actually not a proponent of going back into all of our past lives, but rather to look at whatever memory from whatever embodiment, including the current one, that will help us manifest greater joy, loving and personal fulfillment.

For a direct link to the Past Lives episode, click here.

Do you remember any of your past lives? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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How to Write a Eulogy… For Yourself

Here’s the latest from 30 DAYS OF INTENT! Iman and Natalie, accompanied by YouTube star Hannah Hart, visited Laurel Lewis for a lesson in death and dying. Laurel is a registered nurse who specializes in end-of-life care, and she is best known for her “Death and Dying Dinners.” We interviewed Laurel on the importance of contemplating death as a way of living life more fully.

The Chopra Well: Hi, Laurel! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. First off, can contemplating our own death aid in a spiritual journey?

Laurel Lewis: Contemplating one’s own death is a spiritual practice. It can certainly be the focal point of any meditation or journal writing. A Buddhist would say that we should examine it with every breath. That may be much for the beginner. How about we start with twice a day, upon waking and just prior to falling asleep.

The idea is to become more conscious of how you are spending your time, who are spending your precious time with. Is the way you live your life contributing to your overall happiness or depleting you? By contemplating death we learn to identify friends, coworkers, habits, family members, even thoughts that are no longer serving our greatest good, not serving our life’s purpose fully. The spiritual practice of contemplating death somehow gives us permission to live our lives more authentically and to live with more purpose and compassion. When we truly realize that death can come at any time, that nothing but death is guaranteed, we see that our life is so precious. It allows for an incredible feeling of freedom and personal responsibility to live life with beauty, connection, purpose, joy, compassion and gratitude.

CW: You lead Hannah, Natalie, and Iman through a process where they wrote and heard their own eulogies. Have you done this exercise, yourself? What’s it like? What’s the hardest or most interesting thing about it?

LL: I encourage writing your own eulogy as a way to measure how you’re living your life. You can actually google “how to write a eulogy”. Give yourself some time and some space and allow for at least 45 minutes. I did write my own eulogy recently. What I found and what the participants have echoed is that it is a great way to see if we are “on track” for the things that we want to accomplish in our lives. I have been in service for most of my life with my family and in my profession. What I found with writing my eulogy was that I am not dancing enough, or singing enough or playing enough with my friends.

I do feel happy about the care I have provided to people on their deathbeds and the families that I have served as well. But as I contemplate dying at the age of 41 I can see the spaces in my life that I would like to fill with more fun! So, this exercise is great for identifying: am I doing what I want to be doing, am I exemplifying the qualities in life that I value, am I sharing myself fully and authentically, am I spending time in ways that fulfill me or deplete me? I can see it now more clearly and now that I am aware of it, I can take responsibility for creating more of what I want in my life.

CW: Natalie found it easier to love herself and appreciate herself by writing her own eulogy. It sounds like a powerful exercise! How can we incorporate this into our daily lives?

LL: Writing your eulogy gives you a unique opportunity to think about what people might say about you, about the type of person you were, how you impacted the lives of those around you. This can be very provocative approach to looking at yourself from someone else’s point of view. You may realize that you would like people to say certain things about you but that you have not chosen to express yourself in a way that would encourage that. Or you may actually find yourself creating a beautiful list of affirmations about who you are and what you have created in your life thus far. This unique exercise allows you to consider yourself from someone else’s perspective. If you like what you come up with then it could be a very grounding spiritual practice to acknowledge those parts of yourself regularly.

Make a list of qualities and post them next to your mirror with the words I AM at the top of the list. This kind of practice encourages more of the same to come forward. If you want to take it to the next level, look at yourself in the eyes while you read over your love list. This is a simple practice, but it can create a great deal of self-love, self care, and self respect. And as you learn to regard yourself in a more positive light, you will start to regard others that way as well. In return, people will actually start to see you the way you are seeing and feeling yourself. Try it!

Try writing a eulogy for yourself, and stay tuned for Part 2 of Laurel’s interview on her “Death and Dying Dinners”.

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