Conscious Dying

A few days ago I was meditating with my mother.  She was seating with her back to me.  I sat and focused on my breath. All thoughts disappeared and deep peace filled me.  I dissolved into Emptiness.  “Emptiness,” with no up or down, no forward or back, no left or right, empty of form and yet full of Consciousness.

I opened my eyes and looked at my mother’s back. i felt incredible gratitude and appreciation for her being in my life at this powerful time.  I closed my eyes and once again there was only Emptiness.  I recognized that Emptiness doesn’t feel emotions. Only a human form can feel the love of a daughter for her mother.  I became aware of my body’s desire to move, then thoughts came and went. I recognized that Emptiness and form are One, co-existing as this apparent me, called Crystal Dawn.  I saw that life is a meditation. Every inhalation is an opportunity to awaken to the now. Every exhalation is an opportunity to surrender the past. As both Emptiness and form I was free.

My mother, Freda, was diagnosed with brain cancer on May 12th while having during brain surgery. The brain tumor had only been discovered two days earlier when I took her to the ER because she was confused and lethargic. During her week in the hospital, I spent many hours on the internet researching primary brain cancer and glioblastoma multiforma, which is the type of cancer she has.  Friends and family helped in learning about possible treatments, both medical and non-medical.  There is no cure for this type of cancer and the prognosis is poor.

On May 18th Freda was discharged from the hospital and moved in with me. It was the first time we had lived together in 40 years. Post surgery she became clear-headed once again.  Our family came together and talked about the various treatments. Mom was clear that she did not want radiation or chemo. She wanted to die consciously and really be present throughout the experience. She felt all she needed was to eat healthy, meditate several times a day and avoid unnecessary stress.

At 78, she trusts life. She has been amazingly healthy. On entering the hospital I had to explain that she was taking no medications and her last hospitalization was in 1958 when she gave birth to my brother. It is an inspiration the grace that natural surrounds her as she goes about her life. She is surprisingly relaxed and happy. She reads and is creating a journal about her experiences. She is writing a novel based on a short story she wrote several years ago. Friends and family come to visit.

The first couple of weeks  after she moved in I felt called to prepare myself to support my mother in dying consciously. I reread the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and reviewed the Buddhist practice of Phowa , Conscious Dying, that I was initiated into in May 2006.

Knowing that she may be only a few months left to live has made it easy to set aside the business I often get lost in. I have a new appreciation for each moment we share. Being with her at this time of transition is teaching me to slow down and revaluate my life.

The past few weeks are teaching me that birth, death and rebirth are always unfolding. I commonly call it “change.” Change may appear exciting, like a trip to Hawaii or scary, such as being laid off from work. When it is exciting I am attracted to it and want more. When it is scary, I contract. I want to deny, blame or resist what is happening. I find myself saying, “This is not my life.”  Resistance causes me to suffering. Another word for resistance is control. Most of my life, I have believed that if I take charge and stay in control, I’ll be safe and keep my loved one’s safe as well.   Of course this is just a belief. Control is an illusion.

Over the past few days I’ve been noticing when I resist what is. I can clearly see how my ego wants to be in control, to get “my way.” The ego, the ‘’I,” is the cause of the suffering. When I stop and let go of “I’ and recognize the Emptiness that is my true nature, there is no resistance, no fear, no need to change what is. There is peace, joy and love.  My intention is to just stay present and empty and let everything be as it is.

Copyright 2011 Crystal Dawn Morris