Death is part of Life

I hope this post finds you well in this autumnal day. I have both some great news to share, and some sad news.

First, the great ones. I am excited to be able to offer in-person events again! Three, to be exact, coming up these next few months:

Back in Shape(s) on Nov 27 in Pakhus – Yoga workshop for you to review or deepen your understanding of alignment and yoga techniques… or if you need a loving hand to “kickstart” your practice! Read more about this workshop here.

On Your Hands! on Dec 12 at Yoga Flat – Also a 3-h Yoga workshop, this time to play and balance on your hands! Get a better understanding of how arm-balances and inversions work, and experience how accessible they can be. This workshop if for you to expand your practice and … have fun! Read more about this workshop here

New Year’s Yoga Retreat from Dec 30 to Jan 2. Yes, over the actual year change moment! Spend the new year’s transition away from fireworks and alcohol, immersed in the beautiful wild nature of Nakke, 1h from Copenhagen, and yoga. Yoga, meditation, nature walks, hot tub, nourishment and plenty of healing and fresh energy to step into 2022. More about the retreat here.

I know it is a while since you heard from me, which brings me to the sad news. Just a few weeks ago, I flew down to native South of France upon the news that my mum was about to leave this world. After a year of cancer treatment, exams, complications, and lots of vulnerable unknown, the verdict came that nothing more was possible.

I had the privilege to be granted the possibility to be close to her for 2 more weeks, before she passed. Her fatal cancer took over her life quicker than what we all thought. As I know some of you have been through, and all of you can imagine, it feels like I’ve been on a roller coaster and inside a washing machine at the same time – and still does sometimes.

The process of accompanying her before, during, and also after her passing has taught me many lessons. The most important one is perhaps that, paradoxically, death is part of life. As humans we are just passing on this earth, and so are all of those we love. Going through loss is part of life. Well, we see it happen every year at least here, away from the equator, in fall and winter. As seasons and nature also teach us, decay is always followed by a renewal; a rebirth of some sort.

We humans are unique compared to other animals in that we can be aware of and reflect on our emotional world. What yogis have called “the Heart” for centuries is not only made to keep us alive, but also to love and grieve. For good reasons, there is a general fear around death. Perhaps even a reluctance and disgust to talk about it, let alone be around it. Yet my true lesson is that death, when we can experience it from close enough, has a lot to teach us.

Yoga, like many wisdom and spiritual traditions, teaches that light and darkness go together. So do life and death.

When we chant “OM” (also written “aum”) in a class, we actually honor the full cycle of life: (1) birth (the first letter “A”), (2) the sustenance of life (the letter “U”, pronounced “uh”), (3) death or dissolution (the letter “M”, pronounced “-ng”).

Yoga does not describe death, in the broad sense of the term (not just passing but also the end of a day, a relationship, a thought, etc.) as an end. Rather, it is seen as part of the larger cycle of Life with a big “L”: Death is a doorway and a necessary threshold to go through in order to get the fuller experience of “samadhi,” the state of pure presence and being.

In the hour following my mom’s last breath, I sat next to her, quietly meditating. There was a very special atmosphere in the room: a quietude and vastness that were definitely signaling me that it was not over. Something was preparing.

Suddenly, I felt a warm energy around my shoulders, holding me lovingly. It felt like a warm hug from behind. The message I got was double. First, there was nothing to fear. Death was followed by a deep feeling of joy accompanying my mum wherever she was heading to next. Second, the holding force was telling me to let her go, to remember her love but not to hold her back in this world. So I sat there, breathing and crying quietly, and continued meditating on this both delightful and deeply moving experience. 

Death itself, says the yoga sutras, is the biggest fear each human might know because it represents the dissolution of the “ego”, i.e. our identification with our thoughts and the diverse definitions we label ourselves with. Death, again in the larger sense of the term, asks of us to irreversibly accept the complete total letting go of what like to think can last, and what we hold onto. This holding onto has for long been explained as the source of suffering.

This is not to say that grieving a loved one is easy. It is actually a very hard trial to go through. It is a call with no return for the acknowledging of our humanness and the fact that we are indeed forced to let go of something or someone we were not ready to let go of.

Nevertheless, based on what I know from yoga and my experience this past month, death is not an end; it is a shift in something else. Although it is hard and the grief will be with me for a long time, I am slowly finding new ways to connect with my mum. Somehow it feels like a new initiation in the subtle and invisible realms of intuition, inner knowledge, and synchronicity. All are qualities that the yoga sutras, the oldest yogic texts, and basically all the following yoga texts describe as natural effects of the practice itself.

Therefore, your “yoga” – no matter how it looks like – is already a preparation for the inevitable and most feared part of life. It is also an initiation into the many gifts and blessings of beauty and deep immersion in the “heart” world that death has in store for us. In the end, joy and sadness are two sides of the same coin, and the raw feeling behind both of them is the same.

I cannot wait to share more practice with you.

I am offering diverse events, some are more light-hearted, some offer a deeper focus, over the next few months and I hope you will join me! Take a look below or on HeartWiseYoga.com/events.

Make sure to check out more my Copenhagen schedule, as more regular classes are coming up.

For those of you who are interesting in online participation, I am also planning on a new meditation series this winter. So please stay tuned…

Last but not least, if you need support as we enter this more inward-focused season, I’m here to help. I offer private yoga sessions and mind-body therapy, or a mix of both – in Copenhagen or online. My intention is simply to help you get closer to yourself and feel more balanced overall. Let me know if you need to know more.

Take good care of yourself and your closed ones. Life is precious. Yours and theirs.

Many blessings and much warmth,

Cédric

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