Facing Mortality In The Present

A reader, Trygve, mentioned that by visualizing myself on my death-bed reflecting on my life I was actually two steps removed from being present. Meditation teaches us to be present with every moment. While I’ve always found this visualization exercise to be helpful in evaluating how I allocate my time, he makes a very good point. It took me about a week to figure what to do with this.

I’m only 31 years old, and while I think I’m pretty comfortable with facing my own death, I’ve always forecasted it for some point way off in the future. I think I chalked this up to being realistic. My great-grandfather lived to 102, my grandfather lived to 88, and my Dad lived to 71. I didn’t have to worry about death for a while.

Trygve’s comment made me realize that I was subconsciously distancing myself from death. I’ve created this elaborate time travelling visualization when I can benefit from the same thought experiment in the present. I should be asking, “If I were to die right now, would I be happy with my life?” I should visualize this very body, the one I see in the mirror every day, no longer breathing. I can visualize my current body, so full of life, suddenly having a heart failure. This body could be gone at any moment.

This certainly amplifies the sensations. Instead of wondering if I’m going to utilize the next 30 years properly, I start wondering if I’m using today, or this very moment, properly. It’s also scary. Visualizing my current body dying is scary. Now I know I was hiding from my own death. Maybe with some practice, I can become comfortable with my own present mortality. Time to go meditate.

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