At the end of any yoga session, we finish with the nourishing Savasana which usually we love. However, seldom do we reflect or connect with what Savasana means: the Corpse pose. The pose of a corpse! Who wants to associate their body relaxing with the vision of it being a corpse?
There must be good reasons for yogis to decide to call this pose with such a potentially morbid name. This name must imply something more profound than just a pose for relaxation. What if it was a call for us to tame death and remember that one way, without the shadow of a doubt, our body will rest as a motionless corpse? Does this thought make you shudder with fear or this future prospect excites you with a sense of adventure?
I am more or less sure that you might have frowned at the ridiculous idea of someone being thrilled at imagining their body a corpse and maybe in fact, you dislike having to think about death, full stop.
Indeed, even in the spiritual world, only few people are willing to embrace and be curious to what death is. It is fair to generalise by stating that death is treated like a taboo in the Western world. So even to us Western yogis, we lie in Savasana connecting to its relaxing and nourishing benefits but not to its deeper calling to embrace death. It seems to me that most of us would greatly benefit from accepting death as a natural phase of life rather than a fearful thought or a traumatic event which can literally destroy our lives when we lose a loved one.
I have been bereaved half of my life. I have lost many loved ones through suicide, murder, acute illnesses and earthquakes. Those loses defined my life, I felt victimised by circumstances, my heartaches slowly ate away my life force and in my early 40s I finally manifested the chronic illness M.E. I suffocated for decades under the weight of loss and the taboo of not being able to freely speak about death nor my numerous visions when loved ones died. This weight had destroyed my health.
I know that I am not the only one who has experienced the unhealthy effects of suppressed emotions and communication linked to death and bereavement. As I cured myself, I came to realise that I was not a victim of circumstances, of too many deaths; all those experiences had become my gift for me to give to others and support them in finding their own freedom with this ineluctable phase of existence. I have now made taming death my calling. My aim is to help others understand death from a deeper spiritual perspective.
In 2013, I attended my first death cafe. I was surprised to be the oldest there; the others were in their 20s! In my naive presumption I had expected to be the youngest! I could not believe how interesting our discussion was and how spontaneously funny the topic of death could be. This was an eye opener. At last, I had found a place where people met to naturally speak, share, listen, question, answer and laugh about death! I wanted to give that same opportunity to as many people as possible.
A few months later, I started to run my own South West London Death Cafe in Putney. We meet monthly for two hours, usually on an evening in the week. To meet up with strangers to focus on death, might sound strange or even macabre but surprisingly the absolute opposite is what happens.
It is remarkable to observe that when we are free to talk about death, how quickly our shared humanity starts to shine and bridge our shallow differences, how our masks are removed to reveal our more genuine selves, our vulnerability touches others deeply into their hearts, we accept each other’s unique journey, we are deeply moved by the beauty of human spirit. This is what happens at a death cafe. It is a totally unique experience as this kind of quality human interaction between strangers is rarely experienced.
The effects of such sincere, open, often moving sharing, is that participants leave a death cafe feeling profoundly nourished, alive, balanced, inspired, relieved at having been given the chance to bypass the taboo and share what is authentic inside of them. It is ironic that by touching the subject of death, one feels in fact more alive and appreciative of life!
Convinced of the value of my calling by witnessing time and again people leaving a death cafe in a deep state of gratitude for having been given the opportunity to be free in their expression, I created and run a workshop called ‘Taming death’. It is an experiential moment where I take participants beyond their emotional views and paradigms such as space, time, matter, consciousness and energy from the viewpoint of death.
For the time being, my invitation to you is that next time you finish your yoga session lying down in the Corpse pose, savour the relaxation of course, but also start to tame the idea of your own death…who knows what kind of spiritual freedom and expansion this might open for you.
Suzanne is an intuitive coach and healer who focuses on energy and consciousness
expansion. For more information on her Death Café and Workshops,
please visit www.daretoexpand.com