When my sister died of cancer in 2017, it was sudden and devastating. She died three weeks after being told the cancer had spread throughout her body. Our family was unprepared for what needed to be done to support her and ourselves during this process.
She wanted her final time to be at home, in the comfort of her room. She needed 24 hour support and our family took shifts as her caregiver. Those three weeks were unlike anything else I had ever experienced in my life. We all tried our best to create an environment that was loving and supportive. Yet, I felt numb, overwhelmed and in disbelief throughout the process.
I tried keeping my head up and being positive, while in the other room, each passing day, my sister changed as her body prepared for death. There were difficult decisions to be made, tons of paperwork to be done and people to come visit to say their final goodbyes.
After she passed away, I would drive my car around the neighborhood, play my music loud and cry. One time, I pulled over to the side of the road and wondered why had this happened? How could anything good come from her death?
And then I realized she had taught me the biggest lesson there is in life, she had shown me how to die.
I had never seen the process of death or experienced grief on that level. I had no idea what to do in terms of family support, grieving, paperwork, or arrangements.
Fortunately, there were very kind people in hospice that guided me through the basics. I did the best I could, even though I was absolutely devastated, as was our entire family.
When Covid hit in 2020, I asked myself “what is it that I really want to do with my life”? I’ve always loved psychology and therapy, and found my way into an online life coaching certification program with Jay Shetty.
Through that program I met an end-of-life Doula. I did not know they even existed.
Death Doulas support loved ones and families in the end of life process, much like a midwife or doula with the birthing process. It is “a new non-medical profession” that recognizes death as a natural, accepted, and honored part of life. Read the full blog HERE.
Ever feel stressed before a meeting, speech, job or general happenings in life? Take 2-5 minutes and practice the 4X4 breathing technique.
Close your eyes and place both your hands on your chest, over your heart.
Begin by exhaling to a count of four, holding your lungs empty for a four-count, inhaling at the same pace, and holding air in your lungs for a count of four before exhaling and beginning the pattern again.
I like to use this as a grounding tool prior to meetings or if something has triggered me to become stressed or upset. It really works!
If you want more guidance or visuals, here's a great app to try:
- Peace & love!
“When you look at the surface of the ocean, you can see waves coming up and going down. You can describe these waves in terms of high or low, big or small, more vigorous or less vigorous, more beautiful or less beautiful.
You can describe a wave in terms of beginning and end, birth and death. That can be compared to the historical dimension. In the historical dimension, we are concerned with birth and death, more powerful, less powerful, more beautiful, less beautiful, beginning and end and so on. Looking deeply, we can also see that the waves are at the same time water.
A wave may like to seek its own true nature. The wave might suffer from fear, from complexes. A wave may say, ‘I am not as big as the other waves,’ ‘I am oppressed,’ ‘I am not as beautiful as the other waves,’ ‘I have been born and I have to die.’ The wave may suffer from these things, these ideas. But if the wave bends down and touches her true nature she will realize that she is water. Then her fear and complexes will disappear.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear
This. Is. So. Much. Fun!
Make a wish, set an intention, write out your dreams and prayers!
Take a jar, mine was an old mayo jar, and decorate it however you please. Keep the jar in your bedroom with a note pad and pen close by.
When a wish, prayer or intention comes to mind, write it down on a small piece of paper, fold it up and drop it in your special jar. This can be whenever it comes to mind. Be passionate about it!
On December 31st, sit down in a cozy place with your beverage of choice and open all of your folded wishes. See what's come true.
Those that have, find immense gratitude and put it aside. For those that no longer serve you, place those aside in a separate pile. For the wishes still manifesting, re-set your wish and place back in the jar. Restart the process on January 1.
It's so beneficial to take time to yourself and review your wonderful dreams and wishes that you felt throughout the year. Notice any patterns? Are the wishes all still something you desire?
Take the wishes you set aside that no longer serve you. Thank them as you recycle them :)
Take the wishes that came true and hold them in your hands and then close to your heart. Have a moment of thanks, then do with them as you wish. If you have a fireplace it's nice to watch them burn. Shooting into the atmosphere and restating your wish to the universe.
Have a happy, healthy and blessed 2021!
Starting your morning with a mantra helps set you up for a most excellent day. You can do this while still in bed (before your phone) or once you've settled into a comfortable spot with a favorite beverage. A mantra is a word or a phrase that is repeated during meditation. A simple meditation can be done by sitting upright with eyes open or closed. Rest your hands palms down on your lap or legs to retain energy, palms up to receive more energy. You may also use a mudra (see next article). If you are new to it, recite your mantra for 5 minutes. As you become more comfortable, shoot for 20-30 minutes. You can create your own mantra or choose from the list below. Since you will want to repeat your mantra, I would recommend no more than two sentences. It could even be just a single word.
Begin with a couple of deep inhale/exhale breaths and then let your breath flow naturally. When other thoughts pop up, just restart your mantra. You can only have one thought at a time.
It's a "practice" so be patient with yourself.
Here's some mantra options to get you started:
- My body is rested and my mind is clear
- I start my day with positive thoughts and energy
- I am relaxed, non-resistant and clear
- My day unfolds with ease and grace
- People support me throughout my day
- The Universe supports my desires today
- I am open to receiving greatness
- I bring joy to others
- I bring light with me wherever I go
- I am a positive influence on the world
- All is well
Mudras help recharge your internal energy flow and help channel energy to specific parts of your body's energetic flow. Pictured here is the "Gyan" or "chin" mudra and is commonly used while meditating.
This particular mudra helps to improve concentration and sharpen your memory. It's why I recommend it with your morning mantras, as well as if you are new to a meditation practice.
Chin mudra can be practiced with the palms facing up to encourage receptivity and help gain insight; or it can be practiced with the palms facing down, which encourages a sense of grounding. This Mudra gives rise to the root chakra reducing tension and depression. This pose is quite calming and spiritually awakening. It stimulates the air element in the body, which ultimately leads to an increase in the memory power, nervous system and pituitary gland production. It increases the level of concentration, builds mental power and sharpens the brain. If done regularly, your mental and psychological disorders such as anger, stress, anxiety depression and even insomnia can be improved considerably.
Begin seated (however is most comfortable for you), relax your face, shoulders and arms and remain active from your spine through the crown of your head. Tuck your chin slightly. Rest the backs of your hands where they will be most comfortable. Your hands remain active but not rigid. Relax your palms, apply light pressure with the thumb and index finger. Your three remaining fingers should be straight but not rigid. (see photo above).
As it's own meditation or practice it's recommended to hold the mudra for 35-40 minutes in the morning. I combine it with my TM practice or you can recite a mantra (see my prior article).
To learn about more mudras and their benefits check out Depak Chopra's website: https://chopra.com/articles/10-powerful-mudras-and-how-to-use-them
Darcy Feinstein, Life Coach & Death Doula
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