The cycle of life and death is a continuous loop. Life serves life, and often this means the death of something else.
(Just think of the life that is given up in order to keep sustaining you and keep you alive… physical life in the form of food and lives sacrificed, but equally the consumption of time, energy and resources of others which serves to support your existence)
Although we consider “death” to be this big event at the end of our existence, have you considered how often you actually engage in the death cycle?
The death of ego
The death of patterns
The death of options
The death of phases
The death of cycles
The death of beliefs
We cannot step forward in life without saying goodbye to something else, a previous moment, an old identity, a progression in our career/relationship/psychological development etc.
Yet how do we relate to saying goodbye? To making a choice? To excluding options? To saying no? To consuming others (time, energy, resources)?
In my experience humans often like to hang on, to move forward without letting go, to accumulate or try and strategize for a “both/and” solution vs an “either/or”.
As much as a “both/and” solution is very valuable to source, especially if you are prone to black/white binary thinking, it is curious to see where does your natural tendency lie?
Over the past few weeks, I needed to come face-to-face with embracing the death cycle and made a tough choice to euthanize my horse. At the same time, I am also in the process of moving home, which requires tremendous amounts of letting go in sorting through accumulated belongings and what to keep and what to discard. The death of something in order to birth something new…
I too have difficulty in letting go, in being decisive, in giving up options, in excising myself from comfortable or familiar patterns.
This regularly shows up whenever I try to begin a new “positive habit” and despite the best intentions, as soon as I face a routine interruption to said new habit (e.g. a bad morning, a holiday break, allowing myself “a treat”) the whole new habit is out the window.
Essentially, my comfort of giving up the old identity, which is structured around “not having said positive habit” is not quite ready to die. It defends its life with gusto and says “No Way Jose”… you’re not getting rid of me!
In the same manner, I often struggle with making choices.
A therapist once suggested to me that I have “Decision/Choice OCD” and recommended I seek medication to support this inability to decide, which leads to analysis paralysis and anxiety about seeking any type of finality for fear of making a mistake or giving up an option which may prove better.
And so the recent decision to euthanize my horse, was no small feat. It has been part of my evolution process. A process where I needed to face some of my worst fears. Fears of making a mistake, fears of being perceived as a “bad person”, fears of not being “a good person”, fears of offending other people or attracting judgement, fear of choosing myself over someone or something else, fear of taking or being selfish. Fear of consumption to the point of willfully sacrificing myself (any many more layers of nuance and lessons).
However, I also knew that facing the hardest decision I could probably ever have to face… is the medicine itself.
In Tantra it is often said that the only way through, is through. (not around, under or over). Going direct through the middle of the experience.
When we spend huge portions of our lives avoiding certain feelings, avoiding certain experiences, our lives essentially become smaller and smaller. We avoid being seen in a particular light or having certain experiences… and thus a codependent relationship with the world is born….
Another tenet of Tantra, is around the polarity of feeling…. The degree to which we disallow a certain feeling state, we automatically censor our capacity to feel its opposite.
For example, the degree to which we avoid feelings of sadness or anger is the same degree to which we will end up curbing our capacity to feel happiness and joy.
How often do you have that experience where you are really excited about something but stop yourself short because, well, it may not last, or you doubt it in some other way?
Or the opposite, where you are feeling sad or disappointed by something but start to censor and shut down the feeling “in case it gets too much”?
So coming back to feeling our feelings around death….
- What parts of you are seeking to be born at this point in time? And by extension, which parts of you do you need to allow to die?
- What are your feelings about letting this part go? What attachments do you still have?
- What narratives do you run around why this part is still important to you?
- How can you support this death cycle through an active grieving process? (this is the section where you need to be creative based on the nature of what is needing to be released)
(For example: Let’s say that you are wanting to change your eating habits, something that you have tried and “failed” many times before.
- Part seeking to be born: A gluten free, sugar free lifestyle
- Part needing to die: The part which loves sugary treats and baked goods
- Feelings about letting this part die: Fear of missing out, or having no joy, sadness, anger.
- Attachments: Resistance to giving it up.
- Narratives: to not eat sugar/gluten means being different, it means not being able to participate in mainstream culture. It means being fussy/difficult. People will judge me as being precious or snobby.
- How can I support through active grief / ritual: You could take yourself out for a decadent and overly indulgent dine-out experience eating some of your favourite sweet treats. During this time you can reflect about how sugar/gluten has been a supportive part of your journey so far and how it has comforted you in times of need, it has been an ally.
From this basic example, you can see how “complicated” our attachments often are when it comes to letting things go. You can also then understand how creating new habits can often be a rocky journey, which willpower alone can not solve for.
Imagining the above example for my own life, I can feel those habitual pulls of wanting to avoid “finality” of not wanting to make a “final call”. The desire of sticking to comfort and familiarity.
And there it is….. the familiar avoidance of death and destruction…. which I know…. inhibits in direct correlation my capacity for renewal and creation….
It is an ongoing journey of awareness and progression. I have made big steps in embracing this energy recently, and it has met me with an inflow of new energy, rebirth and opportunity.
I have more big movements ahead with the creation of a new home and selling of many previous possessions and the creation of a new office space… I am looking forward to the new energy that this will bring…. and I am mindful that it is important to spend the time mourning and engaging in active grief for all the parts of me which I need to let go in order to successfully create open space for new energy to flow in.
This is the important step!
PS. As part of my active grief / ritual for my beloved Whisper, I hosted a “living funeral” which was attended by friends and family who had been part of her and our journey together.
Her body was donated to Cheetah Outreach in Somerset West to support the cycle of life serving life and the work that they do to bring conservation awareness.
It has been a sad and grief filled time, and it has been a time of polarity of feeling, where new beginnings are also being celebrated and welcomed. I am letting myself feel and be with both.