Life and death are like two sides of the same coin. Death is always present within life, and life always arises out of death.
Yoga and all other mystical traditions unequivocally call to us to face death as an inevitable aspect of life. The death of the body and personality is a reality for each and every one of us. No one is granted immunity, and in order to fully open to life, we need to be ready to explore the reality of death before it actually arrives.
The practises of Yoga offers us the opportunity to change our relationship with death not by creating fantasies and stories about what may or may not happen to the ‘me’ beyond death, but by fundamentally changing our understanding of what we think we are – of what ‘it’ is that dies and therefore lives. An insight or realisation, no matter how fleeting, into the deeper levels of existence can change our perspective entirely on what we think we are and our understanding of both life and death.
On a practical daily level we experience a form of death all the time – experiences come and go, and relationships of all kinds blossom and fade. Life is constant change. Yoga encourages us to fully embrace the flow of life as it happens without clinging too tightly to that which we enjoy nor resisting too much that which we find challenging. As we practise this we can slowly let go of those aspects in our personality – addictive habits, restrictive conditioning and inappropriate attitudes – which diminish our happiness, creativity and peace. This letting go is fundamental if we are to open up to a more creative and joyful experience of life.
This 10-day retreat will include the tantric meditation practice of Tattwa Shuddhi. This practice encourages us to explore the many layers of our being – from the most obvious to the most subtle. It offers us the possibility, through direct experience, of seeing the unseeable and realising the unthinkable. It gives a step-by-step approach to free us from spiritual ignorance and misidentification, and open us up to the mystery of our Being.
Knowing that our life span is limited also motivates us to live fully – to embrace life with all its transient joys and sorrows, to appreciate the gift of the present moment and to awaken to that part of our being which is deathless.
You can also read an indepth article on Facing Death through Yoga and Meditation by Swami Nishchalananda.