Friday, September 18, 2009

178/260 - Learning to Die

Thursday Off -

The Day 252 meditation takes us deeper into the meaning of Corpse pose. It begins with a quote from Seneca: "In life we must learn not only how to live, but how to die as well." From what I know of Seneca, I think he may have taken this idea much more literally than Gates seems to. But I also think Gate's gloss on this quote has lots of merit.

Gate says that life is filled with many little deaths. We prepare for a long time for any given moment. Think of any of the major events in life: a big game, asking someone for a first date , a wedding, a big presentation or business opportunity, anything that we've worked hard for which comes to any sort of culmination. Often, regardless of the outcome of one of these events, a letdown and perhaps even depression follows. These culminations in life can also be like little deaths. All the preparation and work comes to a head, and a let down afterward comes perfectly naturally.

By learning how to die, Gates thinks Seneca means learning how to let go of the culmination that has just passed, and put yourself into a state where you can welcome the next moment. By developing this ability of timely letting go of a culminating moment, it makes it more possible to be present and to live a fuller life.

Gates then connects this to asana and savasana. Asana or a series of asana, is an exercise in living in the moment. Every class, maybe every pose, gives us the opportunity to experience a kind of culminating moment in miniature. (And perhaps not so miniature.) Savasana teaches us how to let go of what we just accomplished. To simply lie back and be.

Given this idea, I think it shows some of the extra genius in the Bikram series. We don't simply get a long savasana at the end. We are trained instead to try to let go of each pose in the floor series immediately after doing it. And, if we approach this with the right attitude, we simply accelerate our ability to let go. Bikram speeds up the process of learning how to die and become reborn.


bikramyogachick said...


Bonnie said...

Like my Mum has always said... is that all there is?

Duffy Pratt said...

Your Mum was Peggy Lee? Nice catch.

Bosco said...

Duffy, I was out of town last weekend and not keeping up with the blog. (Dylan took second again in his age division in the Lotoja.) Thanks for all the insights from the Clinic. I will be studying them and attempting to work them into my practice.

As for dying, I remember what I learned about 10 years ago when I was a hospice volunteer. Being in the presence of the reality of impending death is very invigorating - you appreciate life so much more when you grok (isn't that from Robert Heinlein?) the inevitability of death.

And I am not sure that has anything to do with the Meditation but I just felt like saying that.