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Practical Ways to Deal With the Anxiety of Death

At some point or the other in our lives, we and our loved ones, are all bound to go through the anxiety of death and dying. Here are some practical ways to deal with it:
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At some point or the other in our lives, we and our loved ones, are all bound to go through the anxiety of death and dying. Here are some practical ways to deal with it:

1. If your physical condition allows it, breathe deeply every now and then. Make every deep breath, a conscious breath. This gives a connection to an awareness, which is beyond the body, something that cannot be grasped intellectually, but experienced most tangibly within the body. (Try it now!)

2. Stay connected to the present moment. Try to notice life all around you as the movement of energy; see the green grass, the smiles of your friends and families, the vast blue skies, the vibrancy of dogs and children, etc. There is something mystical to life, which we fail to notice in our daily life. The most mundane thing, such as the falling of a leaf from a tree, can give you the insight of the most sublime when your attention is tuned rightly.

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3. Begin to notice how fluid everything in nature is. The sun rises and sets; the rain pours and stops; the people are always moving on -- whether by transition or by death; your own moods and feelings ever keeps changing. Yet Life, in a greater sense, is unending and never ceases.

4. You don't have to fix your anxiety. Many of us want to do away with unpleasant feelings. We are obsessed in our society with wanting to control and pounce upon things that have a remote chance of making us unhappy. You may plead, demand or negotiate with your doctors (or your spiritual guides) to help relieve your anxiety. In the end, the only way to really fix it is give it the time and space to rise within and move on.

5. Memory is nothing but a thought. The closer we sense our death, the greater is the deluge of our memories. We give a lot of importance to memories and this asserts our sense of losing all that is "mine". But take note if a memory evokes a strong feeling of anxiety about the future. This may be a desire to project the future according to our past. This feeling is no more real than how a "trailer of a movie" isn't the actual movie.

6. Get acquainted to yourself. When you stare at something, can you step back and "see" the "you" in the seeing. In the thinking, can you be aware of the process of thinking. Who are you, really? Is that what you strongly identify yourself as, in your work, family, society, the real you. Just this inner inquiry has the potential to break the obsession with anxiety. Get into the habit of questioning your thinking and identity, every so often.

7. Get acquainted to 'your God,' 'your soul,' 'your life beyond the physical life,' etc. Semantics always confuse us. We can only experience our inner being through our own inquiring heart. It is best to stay away from concepts, theories about life, afterlife, heaven, etc. Inquire, experiment and choose to know truth for yourself -- directly and personally! No one who is alive, including the author of this blog, can authoritatively tell you about death. But we can learn to deal with the fear and anxiety about it, whether there is a real diagnosis of impending physical death or the emotional anxiety of a plausible loss of that what we are attached to.

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Death has to be the greatest opportunity of our life, if we can see it with the right perspective. It is the commencement ceremony, for a degree at a university better than Harvard or Stanford.