Where is your heart? A meditation on death, dying and living.

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When sitting at the table and someone comes up it often seems that they are so open that I just know something about them.

Not details about their lives per se, but something about the way they comport themselves somehow. I don’t know how my senses combine, it is a sort of listening that happens while seeing or a touching that slides into tasting their spirit. It is feels effortless and full of connection.

When D sat down there was just a fullness and a depth about her. Just sitting there a moment between when we introduced ourselves to each other and before she asked her question – profoundly, there she was.

Will I live another 10 years?

Still listening I let the question sit between us and waited to see if there was more to follow. There wasn’t.

 

Are you worried that you won’t live another 10 years? I ask because I am not a prognosticator or a fortune teller. I can offer you a creative approach to thinking about the question perhaps, but not a definitive answer.

D nodded and understood my differentiation and continued.

I understand what you do and I am interested in a creative way of thinking about my situation. But I am just interested in what the gut reaction is from a person like you. I have a fatal disease and I was supposed to be dead about five or six years ago but I somehow just cruised by that mark to the astonishment of my doctors and myself. I feel okay but not healthy or particularly strong, but not falling apart either.

D didn’t look sick or frail but clearly she had confronted death and considered her mortality. This examination had doubtless added to the depth and gravity of her presence.

I responded to D

I don’t know whether you will live another 10 years or another 10 minutes. There is no right answer really is there? Yes, you will? No, you wont? Either is a trap to drop your guard and ride the wave of death to where it takes you. What I think might be important for a woman like you in the situation you are in is to ‘die before you die.'”

We then talked about the Vedic concept of Bhava Roga (The Disease of Existence) and the Sufi notion of Fana (annihilation of the notion of personal ego) and the Zen story of the man who has been searching for enlightenment and while paddling in a river comes across a corpse floating in the river who he sees as himself and only then did the quest for enlightenment start.

It was a philosophical conversation of the first order but it was full of lightness, heart and compassion for the other. Neither of us was trying to convince the other of anything but just sharing our experiences of how this experience of losing the connection to this cherished idea of who we are and how important that is can lead to a larger and more expansive vision that is less fearful about the death of our body and any other fear for that matter.

This wasn’t new ground for D – she talked about how she had died in this way before but how her medical treatment had been locking her into her dying body.

I asked her

Where is your heart? Go there and whatever life you have left, any of us has left will be full and free.

It was one of those statements that though it came out of my mouth was channeled from some wise universe. It stopped us both and her original question now had a different shape.

We thanked each other and D went on her way.

Where is your heart? How might you die before you die?

If you think a conversation or a creative approach like this could be of use to you where you are now…

please book a session with me today.

 

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19 comments
jeff noel
jeff noel

Matt, thanks for the link to your post here. Time for bed. I'll figure out a way to tell you how I died, before I will die. Stay tuned. :)
Again, great to meet you today.

jeff noel
jeff noel

Matt, thanks for the link to your post here. Time for bed. I'll figure out a way to tell you how I died, before I will die. Stay tuned. :)
Again, great to meet you today.

Chris
Chris

Extremely thought-provoking, as always.

I hope you don't mind me pointing out two sentences that I had to re-read several times due to "stray" words that I have no business being there! :)

"...floating in the river who he sees as himself and only then does then did the quest for enlightenment start."

and

"What I think is important for a woman like you in the situation you are in is to do is to ‘die before you die.’”

Eric Silva
Eric Silva

Hey Matt,

Great post man, really made me think big time. Still thinking as I'm writing this lol... Keep up the great work man!

Lester
Lester

Very thought provoking, allowing me to make up my own mind on this topic.

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander

Matt:

This is the best post I've seen from you.

These words jumped out at me: "Neither of us was trying to convince the other of anything but just sharing our experiences ...." How I would like to have more conversations that are a simple exchange, rather than debate or a two sided effort to convince - that seems to be the common default mode of conversation. Your post made me realize that. On the question, "Where is your heart?" I think I will start asking myself that more.

Well done.

Susan

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander

Matt:

This is the best post I've seen from you.

These words jumped out at me: "Neither of us was trying to convince the other of anything but just sharing our experiences ...." How I would like to have more conversations that are a simple exchange, rather than debate or a two sided effort to convince - that seems to be the common default mode of conversation. Your post made me realize that. On the question, "Where is your heart?" I think I will start asking myself that more.

Well done.

Susan

Hilary
Hilary

How to express the inexpressible? Wow. Thank you.

mstillman
mstillman

I look forward to hearing your story. thanks for coming by!

mstillman
mstillman

glad to have provoked thoughts...what was provoked specifically?

thanks for the pickup on the extra word in the second sentence. I corrected it. No matter how many times you proofread these things...

the first one is a long, slightly weird sentence but I am not seeing the extra word there. but I am always open to corrections.

thanks for reading!

mstillman
mstillman

thanks so much Eric. I wonder...what did it make you think about?

mstillman
mstillman

thank you for this Susan. I am grateful that this might bring a new question into your sphere.

mstillman
mstillman

thanks for saying that Gregg!

mstillman
mstillman

I am delighted to to have been heard!

Chris
Chris

I know what you mean about proofreading, Matthew. I even have a stray word in my reply that I completely missed. I broke my rule: never type when tired.

As for the first sentence, I was thinking it should read "and only then did the quest". The "does then" doesn't seem to fit.

My first thought after reading the post was, if I had been asked that question, I'm not sure I would have been able to answer. Probably sitting there with my mouth hanging open. Also, the post reminded me that even though my life is quite awful, and I am trying to change it, I really have very little to complain about when I realize that there are people in the world, such as the woman who approached you.

I need to be reminded more often. I've placed a link to the post on my desktop. Oh, and if the sentence I mentioned is correct, then I want to scrutinize it several times a day! :]

Chris
Chris

I know what you mean about proofreading, Matthew. I even have a stray word in my reply that I completely missed. I broke my rule: never type when tired.

As for the first sentence, I was thinking it should read "and only then did the quest". The "does then" doesn't seem to fit.

My first thought after reading the post was, if I had been asked that question, I'm not sure I would have been able to answer. Probably sitting there with my mouth hanging open. Also, the post reminded me that even though my life is quite awful, and I am trying to change it, I really have very little to complain about when I realize that there are people in the world, such as the woman who approached you.

I need to be reminded more often. I've placed a link to the post on my desktop. Oh, and if the sentence I mentioned is correct, then I want to scrutinize it several times a day! :]

mstillman
mstillman

Thank you for coming back to say more. Your note showed me how the sentence could be streamlined...and now it has been. Mine was a too conversational. It makes more sense with my emphasis and cadence as I was reading it out loud.

Though your life may be awful I think one of the points from this event is that this woman's life IS your life. How can you die before you die? Even if we are all infected with the Disease of Existence?

Perhaps you "improving" your own life will hasten the death of something that needs to drop away.

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