The Practice: Pretend that you are living your last moments (one minute to one day).
"The doctors walked in, one's eyes went to the window, the other's to the floor. One strait at me. I felt my blood draining as if I was already gone. 'Just tell me,' I begged. "It's as we feared." Silence. I heard someone whisper, 'how long?'
Why does it take the prospect of impending death to push people to live?
Many years ago I read the book “A Year to Live” by Stephen Levine. Levine is known for his work on death and dying. In his work, Levine noticed the radical changes people often make when faced with death, changes like healing relationships, opening up to love, quitting jobs they don’t like, and acting on plans they have been putting off. Seeing the power of the “death sentence” Levine challenged himself to live a year as if it was his last year of life. He later wrote “A Year to Live” to support others who wanted to take on this life changing challenge.
I followed many of the practices in the book and found each one of them a unique and powerful gift. I offer you a taste of this practice. In this practice you may choose to live the next minute as if it is your last, or the next hour, day, week, month or year, as if they are your last. In fact, it’s a good idea to try them all. Practicing with each time period has its gifts. You have your whole life to play with this.
Ready, Set, Go!
There is no reason to wait. Practice this right now! Set the time on your phone for 1 minute 30 seconds. Close your eyes and take three breaths. While you are taking these breaths know that at the end of the third breath you will have one minute (approximately) to live. And then…live for your last minute.
What did you notice?
Want more? Do it again tomorrow, but for 3-5 minutes.
Then do it for 10 minutes the next day.
At what point do you start doing something with your time other than just breathing?
Next time choose an hour to live and live it.
And then a day - and live it.
Each experience will be different. Each experience will teach you about yourself. Each experience will change your life.
As a life practice I am suggesting you do this practice occasionally and for varying periods of time between one minute and one day. If you want to expand this practice and try a month or year, I highly recommend the book A Year to Live by Stephen Levine. It’s one of a few books I like to keep copies of so that I can give it to others - even if you don’t do the year of practice, there is much to benefit from.
Choose a time period (from one minute to one day) for the practice. Prepare yourself for the practice by setting the time aside and deciding exactly when it will start and end. Once the practice starts, speak to yourself the “life sentence”; “I have (fill in the blank with the time period) to live.” Now live - as if these moments were your last.
What do you think?
I would love to hear about your experience.
Next week I will introduce a meditation practice which I do occasionally and which is an awesome practice to combine with this practice.