This week on the Seeds of Tao Podcast we're addressing the big scary elephant in the room for everyone - death. It sucks. It's happening all over the globe, and it's going to happen to both of us. Now that we've gotten that out, let's dive into moving past this fear and into a place of presence. If we can stay fully present, we can move forward with peace and confidence throughout our lives, rather than be stuck in a place of fear and paranoia.
All over the world, we’re facing a global pandemic, so naturally, we’re paying more attention to death rates this year. (Though the actual effect of COVID on the death rate is still negotiable, the numbers of actual COVID deaths are HIGHLY controversial) Many of us are still at home, away from everyone else, putting a lot of time and energy into not catching COVID… avoiding a possibly fatal disease. The thing is, spending our time focusing on death or the possibility of illness isn’t going to do us any good. Sure we can strategize preparations to make, but other than that, it’s really out of our hands.
For some people that can be crippling. We’re not 100% going to control when we get sick, or when we die. So how do we move forward with knowledge of this impending doom that could strike at any moment? We need to STOP focusing on the future and start staying present.
Why is it so important to stay present? Isn’t it important to review where we’ve been and learn from our mistakes? Isn’t it important to plan and make preparations for the future? Absolutely. You can spend time in the past and present if it’s productive, but staying in the past or present leads to anxiety and depression.
One of my mentors once shared a really insightful point about staying present. He said that anxiety is in the future, depression is in the past, and peace is in the present. This way of thinking has been my anchor over the past few years. I tend to get stuck in the future and become anxious about things (thank you active solar plexus chakra lol). When I take the time to uncover WHY I’m feeling anxiety, it’s always because I’m worried about something in the future. Usually, it’s because I’m not accomplishing something on time, and therefore it’s going to domino and wreck my plans for the day or week. This type of time anxiety is something I constantly deal with. But the quicker I can gain perspective and realize that I’m not being fully present, and switch my focus, the quicker things get so much clearer and more peaceful. Depression on the other hand is something that I run into not as often, but Josh really struggles with. But it’s the same with anxiety, it occurs when we’re staying in the past, rather than in the present.
Josh always tells me, “Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are.” (Thanks for the wisdom, Teddy Roosevelt!) That’s been an anchoring statement for me many times. If we can stay fully present, and focus on what we can do with what we have, right now, then we can find a place where we don’t fear death. It also helps to look at death as part of life, and accept our part in the cycle. (Cue Lion King “Circle of Life” in the background)
In permaculture, we love to study cycles. We know lots about the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle… And we use our knowledge of these cycles to our advantage. At the end of the season we don’t rip out all the roots of our dead plants, we use the nutrients available to foster new life and prosperity with the next growing season. To look at it from a biological standpoint, at the end of our life we’re going to take part in that nutrient cycle and add to new life as well.
But it’s interesting if you look at it a certain way, we experience death all the time in our lives, a death of an old version of ourselves, and the birth of our next self. One of the biggest times of this in my life was when I became a mother. I was celebrating the new life my husband and I created, and yet there was also some mourning for who I would never be again. Big life changes will do this to us, one version of us will die, and our next version will rise up from those ashes.
At the end of the day, let us all stay more present and grateful for where we are and what we’re doing right now. Let us live each day to its fullest and be a light for others who stand in darkness. This is being part of the regeneration movement. It’s for the land, but also for ourselves.
Previous Episode: Using a Regenerative Mindset to Light an Ember of Hope with Bonita Ford
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