07/16/2018

Death, Normality and Tortillas

I love writing and I’m grateful to start this blog. I never wrote a blog before.  An actress said, “We all need to be seen and honored in the same way we need to breathe.” In light of her sentiment, this blog is a space for me to express myself and be seen while creating connection for you to also feel seen and inspired.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been passionate about following my heart. The more I follow my heart, the more I learn and push the envelope of what it means to be myself. I think one of the greatest teachers in this journey for me has been death – death in the form of facing my mortality, experiencing the loss of the loved ones, experiencing trauma related to death, experiencing bliss related to death and the professional work I’ve done in end-of-life care with funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries and hospices. All of these experiences have helped me have the courage to live passionately without regret. Being near death or with others who are dying has showed me that it’s never too late to make the most of my life right now.

An Australian palliative nurse discovered common themes with the dying patients she worked with. Her patients expressed similar regrets that surfaced again and again during the time she spent with them. The first one is, “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This was the most common regret. The second one, “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” The third, “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” The nurse said that many people suppressed their feelings to appease others, in turn settling for a mediocre existence and never becoming who they were truly capable of becoming. This also led people to develop illnesses related to the resentment they carried. I just finished a great book that uses case studies and research to clearly explain how our resentment and ability to form healthy boundaries relate to our physical health. The fourth regret is, “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” Many people got caught up in their lives and forgot how meaningful their friendships were until it was too late. The last regret, “I wish I had let myself be happier.” The nurse said that many people didn’t realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. She said that fear of change led many people to pretend they were content, when deep inside, they longed to laugh and have happiness in their lives again. Over and over, I’ve realized how crucial it is to live my life remembering that death can come at any time. The regrets that this nurse discovered are consequences of what can happen if this is forgotten. 
            
My relationship with death formed at a young age when my great-grandma died. Soon after that, I started volunteering at a funeral home when I was 12-years-old. While washing the bodies of the deceased, I was traumatized by the fear of the unknown. I didn’t understand what happened to the life inside those empty bodies. I became obsessed trying to understand the meaning of life and death. Ironically, at the same age of 12, I began facing my own death with an unknown illness that was finally diagnosed and cured years later.
            
After the illness, my curiosity was still there. While working in the field of end-of-life care, I took psychedelics and traveled the world exploring spiritual paths. I drank ayahuasca for five years in the United States until I attended my last ceremonies in Peru. I sat with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, slept at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, lived at an ashram, explored my roots in Israel and Ireland, and stayed at a monastery…. Later in life, I unexpectedly met a meditation teacher and the connection I felt led me to stop exploring all of these paths.
            
This connection was the reason I moved to California. After moving, I ended up going back to graduate school in California. This meditation teacher taught me how to focus in a way I never experienced. Meditation has helped me work with a lot of suffering, trauma and pain. At the same time, it also opened me up to profound peace. Meditation feels like it relates to death because they both require me to authentically face life. It instills a presence that cannot be escaped. Many activities and practices create this same energy like with art, music, exercise, psychedelics, sex and more. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to accept and love all parts of myself equally. This may sound cliché, but it’s easier said than done, and it cannot be done alone. Without the unconditional love mirrored back to me from friends and family, I wouldn’t feel whole in myself.
            
As I continue to connect with all parts of myself, I really value being able to hold an open space with clients where we can do this together - exploring everything and anything that peaks curiosity and desire. Personally, when I find something I like, I tend to explore it to the max because I have an extreme personality. For example the level at which I’ve connected with meditation is also the same level I experience my sexuality. I like being open to things and experiencing them fully.
            
A teacher once said, “Everyone loves something, even if its only tortillas.” Meaning that we each have a soft spot and passion for something we love. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is discovering and exploring what you love and bringing those desires to life. There are so many voices in this culture that tell us what kind of tortillas we should or shouldn’t like, or how we should or shouldn’t eat them. It can be extremely difficult to just get in touch with what we really want. This culture creates a mythical norm around what is seen as normal versus abnormal, but in reality, that paradigm doesn’t exist. Once you realize this, you can embrace your own voice more and hear what it’s really saying. This is what excites me about being with a client – getting to know who he really is deep down while also sharing my true self with him. This kind of relationship is unique. It takes a lot of guts being together, not knowing where things will go, yet still taking the risk to be vulnerable and explore.
           
           
 
           
           

yourfiona - 23:30:44 | Add a comment

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