“Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.”- Buddha
In Western culture, no one likes to talk about death. People get uncomfortable, they don’t know what to say, and the topic is commonly avoided.
But in countries like Bhutan and other parts of Asia, death is talked about and accepted as a part of life.
After all, no matter what you believe or what religion you subscribe to, the fact remains that we are all going to die one day.
Instead of being fearful of this fact, what happens if we really accepted it and got comfortable with it? Would we be able to live much richer and more fulfilling lives?
At least this is the belief of the people living in Bhutan.
Bhutan, which has been named the happiest country in the world, has an extremely high quality of life when it comes to health and wellbeing. As part of the Bhutanese culture, people are encouraged to contemplate and meditate on their own death.
Even though this may seem morbid to most of the Western world, contemplating death has actually contributed to the happiness of the people of Bhutan.
Rather than it becoming something that is depressive, meditating on death has helped them to live life to the fullest and to focus on what is important.
In fact, not thinking about death and avoiding it can lead to repressed fears and anxieties.
In an article published by the BBC, Ura Karma, the director of the Center For Bhutan Studies believes that, “it is this thing, this fear of death, this fear of dying before we have accomplished what we want or seen our children grow” that keeps us trapped in anxiety and even more fear.
Author, Linda Leaming who wrote the book “A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan About Living, Loving and Waking Up” also believes that this is true.
“I realized thinking about death doesn’t depress me. It makes me seize the moment and see things I might not ordinarily see.”
While thinking about dying may be confronting, perhaps it is not the dark images or how it is going to happen that we should focus on. Perhaps it is the idea that every day is a gift, and every day needs to be lived to the fullest.
Contemplating death is really about contemplating life, and looking at how we are spending our precious time.
Are you making the most of your day? Or are you constantly finding yourself with not enough time to do the things that really matter?
Are you spending time getting angry and offended at what other people are doing or are you focusing on your own growth?
Are you spending time thinking or talking about doing something instead of just doing it?
While we don’t have to make ourselves feel guilty for spending our time doing things like watching TV, or endlessly scrolling through Facebook, if we bring ourselves back to the present moment even just a few times a day, we may be able to gently shift some of these habits so we can create more of the life that we want.
Death doesn’t need to be scary. Death doesn’t need to be this ominous thing that we avoid. Death is simply a part of life.
After all, every day we experience”deaths” with the rising and setting of the Sun, the death of a season, the death of a year and so on.
Life is all about moving through the cycle of death and rebirth. Death is everywhere we look. And instead of shying away from it, perhaps we can embrace it in such a way that it allows us to make the most of the time we have here.
If you are feeling up to it, consider meditating on the fact that you are going to die one day. Notice any thoughts or feelings that arise. Notice any regrets that may surface, or any dreams or wishes that emerge. Ask yourself what your priorities are, or if you would do your life differently in any way.
After coming out of this meditation, perhaps write down your experience and see what changes you feel drawn to make in your life.
“Every mortal will taste death. But only some will taste life.” – Rumi