Learning how to let go when you are dying helps you die better. You leave this world in a way that brings peace and joy to yourself and your loved ones. Learning how to let go now, while you’re alive, helps you live better in the very same way. After all, clinging is the root of suffering. And dying while clinging to life is emotionally painful and uncomfortable.
Practicing for a good death isn’t hard to do. As we get older, we experience smaller deaths all the time. Sometimes our hearts break in ways that leave us empty, alone, and vulnerable. Sometimes it feels as if our soul has died.
Some examples include when:
- Relationships end.
- We want something and it doesn’t happen.
- Someone we love dies.
- We experience failure.
- Dreams don’t come true.
At the time, these experiences certainly don’t feel like opportunities. But that’s what they are. Opportunities to practice letting go for a better life and death.
10 Ways to Let Go Every Day
Many clients nearing the end of their lives want, more than anything, to just fall asleep and not wake up. Living isn’t easy, and most of the time neither is death. Dying a good death sometimes requires work. It requires practice. Do the work now for an easier death in the future.
Finding time to sit quietly and focus on your breath, every day, helps you in immeasurable ways. Some people compare it to praying. However, when you pray, you ask for something. In meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, you don’t ask for anything. You sit with yourself, in the present moment, and breathe. It’s simple and powerful.
Some people prefer transcendental or lovingkindness meditation. While mindfulness meditation focuses your thoughts on the present moment, transcendental meditators seek to transcend thought itself and experience a state of pure awareness. Lovingkindness, or metta meditation, involves mentally sending kindness and goodwill towards others. These, and other practices, can increase feelings of peace and calm reassurance that the universe is unfolding as it should.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Even if you only sit for 3-5 minutes, it can help you look within and let go of anything not serving you. Eventually, you learn how to let go of everything. In return, you feel truly free.
2. Find a Symbol
Symbols evoke profound feelings. We may not even know why, but they fuel our imagination. Symbols remind us of what we hold dear and enable us to explore different aspects of our existence in ways that nothing else does.
A few years ago, visiting Tibetan monks hosted a sand mandala event near my home. For several days, they created a beautiful mandala made from colored sand. When finished, the monks took it to a nearby river and, in a ceremony about understanding impermanence, discarded of the sand. That’s a symbol.
They also made and sold Vipassana Tibetan impermanence bracelets and I bought one. Made from animal bones and carved into skull heads, these bracelets remind wearers about the impermanent nature of everything. It symbolizes how our world, bodies, and selves are in a state of constant change.
Finding something to wear or hold can help you accept the reality of death when words do not.
3. Focus on the Here and Now
We can be more aware of when we look back or forward. Without judgment, we can remind ourselves to stop and focus on the present. Do this every day. Notice what is happening all around you. Too often, when we feel sorrow or anxiety, it’s when we focus either on memories or a future that’s unknown.
Gently reminding ourselves to return to the here and now can help alleviate suffering. Like everything else on this list, the more we do it, the better at it we become.
4. Explore Plant Medicine
Some people have great success in learning to let go with the help of psychedelics. You can do this with mushrooms, ayahuasca, and other sacred medicines. With the right set and setting, you can explore the root causes of your fear and anxiety. Then practice letting all that go.
Plant medicine allows you to work through sadness without feeling sad. Isn’t that amazing?
It can be incredibly therapeutic to experience the death of your ego before it happens at end-of-life. Experience the joy, peace, and transcendent power. With daily integration, you take that experience and live with less fear or anxiety.
5. Help Others
Helping people at end-of-life can reverse our tendency to cling to life. You see many different dying scenarios. Each one demonstrates how the choices we make contribute to either a peaceful or chaotic death. What do you want for yourself?
As a society, we aren’t encouraged to discuss death. That’s why so many people are afraid of it. If you spend time with dying people, you learn from it. And the more you learn, the less you are afraid.
Staying angry at someone is easier than forgiving them. That’s probably the first clue that staying angry isn’t healthy. Let go of anger rather than cling to it. You will have a more enjoyable transition from this world if you’ve forgiven the people in it. Do this for you, no one else.
7. Make Meaningful Amends
Have you had a relationship end because of something you said or did? Then say you’re sorry in a way that’s meaningful. It will help you forgive yourself as well.
8. Appreciate Your Body
You are meant to slow down and stop functioning. Your face is meant to wrinkle. Your body is made to sag. This isn’t easy to watch or feel. We want to cling to our younger selves sometimes rather than gracefully surrender the things of youth.
But freedom comes after the surrender. Part of that includes feeling grateful for your body, and everything else about your life that you love, before letting it go.
9. Make Time for Sadness
You’re allowed to be sad. It’s hard to lose what you love about life or people who’ve meant so much to you. Cry it out. Allow yourself time to mourn, even if it’s just a few minutes each morning or evening.
10. Control What You Can
Remember you have very little control over what happens to you. You can only control how you handle it. You determine your destiny when you choose how to handle the ups and downs life throws your way. That’s where your power lies. Use your power for good and it will not only help you, but your family to find peace as well.
Practice Makes Better
If you practice letting go of the smaller stuff, you’ll find it easier to let go when death arrives. Go out with a song rather than a sneer. If you’d like support with this process, please contact Anitya Doula Services today.