Fear of Living? Fear of Dying?
"Imagine if you are older, like in your 60s. Could you climb a tree? Should you climb a tree?" Those were the first questions proposed to us students in my Sports Psychology class in college.
At 23, 60 seemed really old and hard to imagine a 65-year-old looking at a tree wondering if climbing it would result in serious damage due to a fall. Is falling a worthy consequence? Could I do it at that age? Hence, the answer: physically possible but mentally restrictive.
My professor then told us that at that ripened age we should all consider climbing the tree and thinking it is possible and knowing that positive thinking will get us up and down safely. The idea was if you say in your mind you "might fall," just the negative echo of those words would put the fear in your head and fall you may. Think positively and a different outcome is possible. "Don’t drop my phone" and "hold onto my phone" are very different word patterns using the same mental processing.
The hurdles we come upon in life's path towards dying, represent our mental abilities and inabilities to overcome fear. We can still climb the tree but falling would be more damaging now than before and death would nudge closer. But we should climb the tree to keep us young, keep our minds fresh and spirits vibrant (not young). Then again, we could also talk ourselves out of climbing because we have too many things to do and having a little adventurous fun is not one. Emails, calls, food shopping, kids/parents, vacation planning, work. Yet the tree is nature and we should stay close to the energy, breathe into it, share it, hug all of it. I don't know any other way to keep away FUD - fear, uncertainty, doubt.
So, do you choose fear of living or dying? In my book HEAVENLAND, I wrote the following to flip the mental script on how we approach death and re-thinking how to live a full life.
Death is not to be feared, it should inspire. Death, like many dreaded moments, can develop into a spiritual illness that demands healing. The fear of death can haunt and torment you, if you allow it to. Craft the life you are comfortable living. Stay inside and create, if being a solo artist fills your cup. Put the work in each day to make yourself a better person—you get what you put in. Add the people, places, and things to support you in being the best you.
You can use this exercise from the book to seek the answer:
Meditation to Motivation
Lie on the floor (supine position), breathing in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth at least 3-4 times. With your eyes closed and lights low, focus on your breathing.
Now shift your focus to your pulse. Feel the beat and flow of blood so you can slow the system, all systems. Breathe comfortably through your nose until it is effortless and your pulse slows. Stay calm, breathe easily.
Using visualization, sit up without moving physically, let your mind do the work. Now, still using your imagination, slowly stand up and get into position so you can view your own body lying on the floor. Keep your eyes closed and just visualize.
Observe the stillness and the low energy of your body, the comfortable, steady state. This image should be what your body will look like when you die, when your body is lifeless. Keep your breath steady and effortless. There is still this mass, this physical body on the planet that’s connected to a soul, a personal spirit, until buried or cremated. Does your soul stay connected to other people on Earth now that your physical self is gone? Yes, pretend you’re dead and you are looking at your deceased body.
Stay calm, breathe...shallow, calm breaths. As you look at yourself, as the conscious figure standing over the body, ask these questions:
- Am I happy with what I’m doing now?
- Could I improve my life, or is happiness unattainable?
- Do I feel stuck, and is this how I’ll go out?
- If I was in this position tomorrow, without breath or life, would I feel good about what I’ve accomplished and the people I’ve touched?
- Was I a good person? Did I make a difference?
Bret Johnson- Author of book series, Heavenland, My Heavenland and Beyond Heavenland (unpublished). Bret has observed people, places and experiences from a global perspective. His careers in television, beverage, health/fitness and the CUBAMERA project have curated a balanced lifestyle. He resides in Los Angeles and claims his creative writing career started at an early age with this sentence: "I will not talk in class." Bret and Catherine Enny of Guerrilla Management are looking for partners for a Book/TV project.