Habits Needed in Our Senior Years

I met a man who was an engineer and benefited from his thinking mind his entire adult life. He had been diagnosed with cancer after he retired and now had a fear of dying.  This new challenge meant he had to develop new ways of coping.

We live in a world where “you are what you think”. Rather a stupid quote, but a reality we have to deal with. We have been taught our thoughts are very important and as we grew us conscious thinking is what served you the best. In our senior years, the focus on thinking is what can limit us. It is the wisdom beyond thinking you need to meet your challenges, especially in a health challenge.

When awareness stops on thinking, we don’t activate the Wisdom of our Body. The beauty of challenges is that they force us to go beyond ourselves to deal with them. Those who avoid meeting challenges at that depth may find comfort in their conditioning, but will seldom grow. As we age, health problems will be more likely. To meet the challenge of aging, you have to grow.

A person with a well-developed intellect tends to be able to afford external pleasures because they had a good job. They found pleasure outside of themselves consistently, but those habits will not be enough to meet the challenges of retirement and poor health. They need habits that direct them inside, so they can connect to the Wisdom of their Body.

The main obstacle to connect is how we were conditioned as a child.  To meet our challenges, we need the Wisdom of the Body. A conscious connection can be developed at any time in our life. As seniors we may need to recondition our internal habits, so they connect to our inner wisdom instead of old thinking habits.

Are you comfortable exploring the reality beyond your thoughts? If not, learn to consciously condition habits that connect you to the Wisdom of your body. That wisdom can do everything ego can do, but meets your new challenges.

To learn new habits that help your character evolve, read Marc’s book, The Positive Self: Change Your Self-Image and You Change Your Life. To help you in health challenges, read Marc’s book, A Healthy Way to be Sick. Books are available on Amazon/Kindle.com.

 

(c) 2015  Marc Lerner

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How Accepting Death Empowers You in the Moment

We all carry a lot of unfinished business along with us all the time. The more we accept death, the more in the moment we are.  Accepting death is possible, for it makes us reject the parts of us not living in the moment. That is a spiritual gift. If you looked at your life imagining you are going to die soon, unimportant things would fall from your character. Just do the following things and allow your imagination to be real to you.

  • Sit and become deeply relaxed. The deeper you go, death is more than an idea to you.
  • Imagine a realistic situation that brings you closer to death.
  • Identify people, work situations and philosophical questions that are incomplete within you.
  • Realize that a conscious approach to death completes your unfinished business, so death is simply the next step for you in life. Make your breath flow easily and smoothly. Your mind becomes empty the closer you get to death.
  • Here is a technique that teaches you The Easy Breath; Take 3 deep breaths and stop breathing after the third one. If you are relaxed, the Wisdom of your Body breathes you. Notice how easy that breath flows through you; that is The Easy Breath.
  • Now imagine the unfinished business you have and ask yourself “Do I want to hold onto this as my last possession?”
  • Go deep again and breathe the Easy Breath. Let this experience sink deep into you.

When you return to your normal state of mind, be grateful for the experience you just had. Capture this experience in a trigger (a word or a phrase). Say that trigger whenever you deal with that unfinished business. This doesn’t complete your unfinished business; it just puts you in the best state of mind to work on it.

For instance if you owe money; you still owe it, but working on completing this unfinished business from a conscious state of mind makes it much easier to deal with. The same is true for unfinished business with another person. In other words, you still have to work on it, but from a conscious state of mind.

There is no reason you have to carry your unfinished business around with you as a weight around your neck. Complete it while being more conscious. There is no magic in life; get to the point where you face death consciously and watch the unimportant burdens fall away. Facing death consciously can be a new beginning for you. Just trust your deepest wisdom to change you and don’t resist. You will be more conscious in the moment.

 

© 2015 Marc Lerner


Go to Amazon/Kindle.com to find all of Marc Lerner’s books: The End, A Creative Way to Approach Death, A Poetic View of Hospice, A Healthy Way to be Sick, The Positive Self: Change Your Self-Image and You Change Your Life. Go to marclerner.com to read Marc’s blog and articles.

Learning How to Let Go of Your Life

This title might sound suicidal, but this is not my intention. When you look at your life as the consciousness that keeps you alive and allows you to be more active, letting go of your life is freeing your consciousness. You are freeing it from your thoughts and conditioning. This allows you to be conscious of powerful inner resources and develop a deep spiritual connection. This goes against the way most people live their life.

We have been conditioned to be very conscious of the way we think. Our conditioning is so strong that our consciousness is trapped in our thinking mind. Basically, this is another way of defining attachments. When your consciousness is connected to a thought, you are unable to connect to your deeper inner wisdom. On almost every spiritual path, you are encouraged to let go of your attachments, which allows consciousness to enter a spiritual realm.

I want to propose to you that this can naturally happen in every breath. When we learn how to breathe beyond our thinking mind, our in-breath is a way of letting go of the thoughts that define our life. This in-breath can create a habit that frees us from our thinking mind every time we breathe. Then, on our out-breath, our consciousness returns to our thinking mind with a clear perspective.

To the ego that naturally fears death and is what we identify with, this traps us in our thinking mind. For most people, their thinking mind serves them and makes them more efficient in this world. But, when a person aspires to an important goal, that beyond-thought reality is the home of powerful inner resources that they need. For instance, if you struggle with a health crisis, breathing into this depth is how you can become an active participant as a partner with your doctor. Not only do you activate your healing powers, you remove anxious thinking that limits your ability to heal.

If you want to express love to someone who is important to you, the ability to breathe beyond thoughts allows your heart’s expression to be pure. We limit our love by the way we think and were conditioned. If you had the power to transport consciousness to the silence beyond your thoughts, your love would be free from any limitations. Of course, this happens by a habit which can happen to most people naturally. But, for those whose love is limited by their thoughts and conditioning, they may need to put conscious effort into making this happen.

Another aspect of our life that this breath can serve is our work. When we hold onto our thoughts, we block creativity and our openness to new ideas. Creativity is an important part of work and can subconsciously be limited by the habits we create. Developing the habit of conscious breathing, where we let go of our thinking mind, has the ability to makes us more conscious on our job.

Focusing on breathing may sound insignificant, but it can add quality to every aspect of your life if done consciously.  I suggest that you take time and develop the habit of letting go of your thoughts. This can happen by practicing breathing into silence every night before you go to sleep and every morning when you wake up. This will allow you an instant escape from anxious thinking and, possibly, develop this habit in every breath.

In a health crisis, you need to learn how to let go, so that powerful inner resources can assist you. In my book, A Healthy Way to be Sick, you learn to apply this in a health crisis. In my book, The End: A Creative Approach to Death, you apply this same perspective to your final days, as you approach death.


© 2015 Marc Lerner

From Diagnosis to the End

In the first few minutes after you receive a diagnosis, you set the tone of how you are going to deal with it. This is the way you are going to relate to your illness from that point on, until it is consciously changed. Doctors say that when a person hears a diagnosis of cancer and slams his fist on the desk, he lives longer and becomes more involved than a person who passively accepts it. Our initial reaction to the diagnosis plays a significant role, but it can consciously be changed by developing better life skills. If you trust your inner resources, you become more confident in dealing with challenges. These include self-trust, self-image and confidence.
You trust what is important to you. When you see your inner resources as an important part of your life, you confidently rely on them. When you do not see them as important, you become a passive victim, waiting
for help to come from other than yourself. In my book, A Healthy Way to be Sick, you learn how to move importance from things that are outside of you to what I call the Zero Point, where you trust yourself. Basically, that says that your life and inner wisdom are more important than your thoughts and perceptions. In a health crisis, self-trust is essential to become an
equal partner with your doctor. The doctor represents the medical world and the resources it takes to heal you. In that partnership, you represent the inner world and the inner resources it takes to heal the body and respond to medical treatments.
The next inner resource is developing a strong self-image. We think to our self-image, which is the way we interpret what is happening. A positive self-image interprets challenges in such a way that you play a significant role. Your interpretation determines the conclusion you arrive at. A negative self-image plays the role of a victim and hesitates to get
actively involved.  Since we trust what is important, we have to see our self-image as an important part of the healing process. In my book, The Positive Self: Change Your Self-Image and You Change Your Life, you develop a self-image that serves every part of you. It is your positive self that openly receives powerful inner resources and plays an active role in
healing.
The most important thing you have in healing is the attitude you have about your illness. Attitudes are based on the decisions you made in the past, when you dealt with similar situations. For instance, if in the past when you dealt with a health struggle, you decided that you cannot deal with it, you formed the attitude that eliminated active involvement in the
future. The poor decision came more likely from your negative self. It is possible to image that same situation and create a decision from your positive self, which will significantly change the attitude you have now. If you are more connected to a positive self-image in your everyday life now, that decision naturally changes.                                                                        Confidence is a result of your positive self being kind and compassionate to your negative self. This eliminates the self-doubt that negative conditioning plays in your life. Confidence, or ‘with faith’, brings a spiritual quality to the challenges you face. This quality opens you to something bigger than yourself to deal with your challenge. It eliminates the self-doubt you, too often, insert into challenges. We cannot always change the challenge we face, but we can always change what part of us deals with that challenge. Confidence is an important ingredient in really trusting ourselves.                                              Every part of a health challenge needs to have the best part of you participate. When that happens, you are a better partner with your doctor. This applies, not only to your conscious lifetime, but it also applies to how you face death. This does not only involve you, but also the people you love and those who care for you. Continue reading

A Poetic View of Hospice

poetic hospice

In March, 2014, I had my 33rd anniversary of my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). In my 33rd year, after dealing with partial blindness, brain surgery, coping with a wheelchair and excruciating pain, I entered Hospice. My entry was not because I was expected to die soon; it was just that I was on a downhill progression with my illness and I needed to manage my pain.
It was a shock to me to be put into Hospice and I knew I had to deal with it myself. My wife, Amy, and my mom were incredible supports, but they were not always available. I used poetry as a way of coping. When issues came up, writing poetry allowed me to view that same situation from a poetic perspective.
In 2013, I wrote The End: A Creative Approach to Death. I felt creativity was important, because it allowed me to use my whole brain, instead of just linear thinking. I would encourage everybody to approach any major struggle using their whole brain, especially at the end of their life. It does not really matter what your creativity is, but it has to be an expression that goes beyond worry, fear or negativity.
I am not a professional poet, but I wrote these poems to help me process the dramatic journey I was on. This is the way I coped with a situation that even the experts do not have a cure for. The spiritual perspective for me was the deepest way to capture my situation not as a victim, but making the best out of a devastating situation. For those who related to my poetry, it triggered beautiful communications.

Everyone has the opportunity to utilize their right brain, if they express their heart to those they love. Only utilizing the left brain is a way to trigger frustration and a disconnect with those you love or those who love you. It is not time to focus on intellectually figuring out your situation; that needed to have been done before your final days. Completing unfinished business in your relationships is the best thing you can leave those who love you.
The following poems are an expression of the 3 months of my time in Hospice; July, 2014 to October, 2014. I am now in palliative care. My decline is not as dramatic and pain is relatively under control.

The End: A Creative Way To Approach Death

 

To help me prepare for this final journey, I wrote a book called The End: A Creative Approach to Death. The first part of this book helped me be clear about what is involved in approaching death. The second part consists of 40 poems that helped me to prepare from a creative perspective.
Many of us have lived a life where we have become proficient in accomplishing goals; we live our lives in that state of mind. When we are close to the end of life, what is our goal? In our lives, we have been “the Doer,” where we do things by focusing on our thoughts. Preparing for death requires us to also be “the Receiver.”
Of course, there are things to do to prepare for this ultimate journey, but we also have to receive to get valuable input from our deepest inner wisdom. The majority of our character was created by habits developed as children, but most children never learned how to prepare for death.
Consciously approaching death involves utilizing powerful inner resources in a selfless way. This inner journey does not serve your ego, but it definitely brings you closer to life. If preparation can give you a better connection to life, why wait until the end of your life to prepare? It would serve everyone to prepare for death, even when it was not yet a threat. My best preparation happens when I transcend my ego and surrender in consciousness. As Lao Tzu said: “It is best to prepare for death while you are still alive.”
This book also suggests how you can write a book that creatively helps you
to approach death. When you create your thoughts in a book, you create
habits that help you during your toughest struggle, the end of life.

The Beauty of Approaching Death Consciously

Why wait till the end of your life to consciously accept you are going to die? We all will die. Most people have a hard time even thinking about their death, but that is their ego’s resistance. In your most conscious moments, you embrace life instead of your mind-made reality. I have had MS for over 33 years; I am in a wheelchair, legally blind with several handicaps that destroy the quality of my life. I suffer from intense pain. For these reasons, I do not resist death; in fact, at times I would welcome it. You could say this is a terrible situation, but it has given me the opportunity to really study death and the way I approach it

I find that life attachments keep me from going deep inside. They are like a life preserver I subconsciously hold onto. Letting go of them allows me to go deep — to a depth that is beyond thinking — where I connect to the wisdom of my body. Imagine the things we are attached to, such as the clothes we wear. This covering makes us feel secure (if we were naked in the middle of a public event, we would not feel so secure). Think of attachments as the clothes you wear and also the heartfelt joy you feel when getting in bed with your lover naked. Approaching death consciously is removing your attachments as you get closer to death. When you let go of these attachments, you naturally embrace life, like embracing your lover.

To help me prepare for this final journey, I wrote a book called The End: A Creative Approach to Death. The first part of this book helped me be clear about what is involved in approaching death. The second part consists of 40 poems that helped me to prepare from a creative perspective. Here are a few excerpts:

Many of us have lived a life where we have become proficient in accomplishing goals; we live our lives in that state of mind. When we are close to the end of life, what is our goal? In our lives, we have been “the Doer,” where we do things by focusing on our thoughts. Preparing for death requires us to also be “the Receiver.”

Of course, there are things to do to prepare for this ultimate journey, but we also have to receive to get valuable input from our deepest inner wisdom. The majority of our character was created by habits developed as children, but most children never learned how to prepare for death.

Consciously approaching death involves utilizing powerful inner resources in a selfless way. This inner journey does not serve your ego, but it definitely brings you closer to life. If preparation can give you a better connection to life, why wait until the end of your life to prepare? It would serve everyone to prepare for death, even when it was not yet a threat. My best preparation happens when I transcend my ego and surrender in consciousness. As Lao Tzu said: “It is best to prepare for death while you are still alive.”

Basically, we think to our self-image. If you think to your Positive Self, you will get positive responses. If you think to your Negative Self, you will get negative responses. As you read this book, the importance of the Positive Self will become clear, especially in dying, for you want to have positive interpretations at this time.

You will learn how to develop self-trust, which allows you to use inner resources to be in the moment consciously, ready for that passing. You will learn how your breath is a vehicle that can transport consciousness into Silence, which activates the Wisdom of Your Body and creativity as you pass.

Too many people view death as tragic. Their focus is in the rearview mirror as they mourn what they are leaving behind. Of course, mourning is healthy as long as you are aware and conscious of where you are going. This is a natural process. Sometimes when I say I want to die, it leads to mourning and I cry. I welcome emotional release, because I do not want my approach to death to be an intellectual exercise.

Unfortunately, most people resist freedom, as they hold onto what their ego identifies with; there is no freedom in holding on like that. “Confidence” comes from the Latin, “con fide,” or with faith, and it takes confidence to face death without holding onto your mind-made reality. Actually, it takes the same confidence to face death as it does to face life, where you are totally free, connected to life in the moment. It is difficult for the ego to comprehend real freedom, because we are attached to our ego and freedom comes when you are free from all attachments.

In Stillness Speaks, Eckhart Tolle said: “In the last few moments before physical death, and as you die, you then experience yourself as consciousness free of form. Suddenly, there is no more fear, just peace and a knowing that ‘all is well’ and that death is only a form dissolving.” You need to learn how to separate your consciousness from your mind-made reality. From this state of being, you will find passing to be easy and without fear, attachments, or resistance. I think it is good to work toward that as you master approaching death.

I have a formula that I will develop in this book that gives you control over the quality of life as you approach death: Anxiety = approaching death x your resistance. As you approach death, your anxiety increases as your resistance increases. If you learn the art of surrender, your resistance will decrease until you approach death without anxiety.

The Eckhart Tolle quote allows this to happen naturally. As you develop strong habits, you can allow this to happen without creating resistance. The quality of life does not depend on the health of your body; it depends on your focus. In your approach to death, develop the focus that serves you in creating the quality Eckhart Tolle talked about in passing.

When you do this work ahead of time, it also makes it easier for those who love you and care for you. It allows them to relate to you consciously in the moment and say goodbye. There is always mourning when you deal with death, but there can also be a celebration when it is done consciously. Join me in creating the conscious moment, where you pass into a new dimension and celebrate.

Forever

Time seems to be changing for me,

Minutes seem to be so long

And even 10 seconds seem to last forever.

Maybe that is it,

I must be getting closer to forever.

***

Marc Lerner, age 62, has had multiple sclerosis since 1981. A Michigan State graduate in psychology, he worked for 25 years with cancer and AIDS patients, veterans with PTSD  and the mentally ill homeless. In 1982, he founded Life Skills Institute and began writing and giving seminars. His books include A Healthy Way to Be Sick, The Positive Selfand  The End: A Creative Way to Approach Death. All are available on AmazonHis website is lifeskillsinc.com. Marc can be contacted at (734) 913-0868.

Posted on August 28, 2014 and tagged issue 58 marc lerner