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Meditations: “Guided Meditation on Dying

For this guided meditation, I invite you to get comfortable in your seat. Close your eyes, if you like, and take a deep breath. And another. Now, imagine that your death is a person. What does this person look like? Is the person angry and cruel, or laughing and kind? Does this person attract or repel you?  Imagine that this person has been with you your whole life. From the moment you were born, your death came into the world to keep you company. Your death is your oldest companion and friend who has never given up on you. Your death does not make its presence known to you when you don’t wish to think about it, but neither does it allow you to delude yourself when you fancy yourself immortal. Your death will come to you at last, but you don’t know how, or when. It may tap you politely on the shoulder. It may cough and nudge you to get your attention. Or your death may come to you when you least expect it. It may come to you when you don’t wish it to come, when it is the very last person you wish to meet. You may hate your death and fear it. That is okay. Your death realizes this and does not mind.

Imagine now you are finally meeting your death face to face. Your death knows you do not wish to meet it and is saddened by the fact, because it is your oldest friend and companion and wishes to be loved by you.  You ask your death why—why should you love it? How does it answer? Does it remind you that you could not live if you did not also die? Does it tell you that life and death are not enemies of one another, but two sides of the same coin? Does it remind you of the other things that you love even though they, too, are finite, limited, terminal: other people, places, memories, objects? Or does it say something else entirely, or nothing at all?

What does your death look like now? Can you still see it? Does it look the same as it did at the beginning or has it changed? How do you feel when you stand face to face with this death, who came into the world with you the moment you were born, and who will take leave of it at your side as well? Now, conscious of that intimacy you’ve newly forged with your death, allow your attention to linger there, at that moment of encounter, or let your mind take you where it will, touched by this meeting. Breathe once again deeply. In. And out. Continue breathing deeply into this knowing as the music bears us on.

Copyright: The author has given Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations permission to reprint this piece for use in public worship. Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author.

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Last updated on Thursday, September 26, 2013.

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