Being A Student of Silence

A couple of years ago Peter Reilly, friend, long time educator and mentor,  authored a book for teachers.  It was called “In the Garden of Hearts:  Meditations, Consulations and Blessings for Teachers”    Peter honored me by asking me to write a chapter for the book, which I did.  Today I stumbled across it, and thought…wow, not bad…I should share that. 

So here it is.  And do check out his lovely book.  This is a master teacher who has so much kindness and wisdom for others who teach and heal.  

 

One could say I am a teacher.  At least I‘ve been a teacher. Plenty of times. Primarily I teach adults and college students.  I am also a therapist (a different kind of teacher). But what taught me most about teaching and the work of the heart was not derived directly from any formal education, or even the therapy room. It was what I learned from Hospice work. “Hospice work?!” you ask.  Yes. People old and dying. There I learned that being a great student of someone we seem to be “helping” is the best way to do our work with heart, the best way to be fed by that work and the best way to avoid burnout. So I’d like to tell you briefly about being a student with some burning questions and what can happen when questions exist in silence between two people.

Here is the short of it:  After leaving a perfectly respectable career designing bridges at age 41, I found myself training as a healer and volunteering in a Hospice in the most dismal of nursing homes, sitting with people curled in balls and not speaking. I won’t give the details. I knew very little if anything about them.  Fortunately, I had little to do but sit and contemplate what was before me.  Who was this person? Where were they? What was happening in the silence? How could I reach them? Did they know I was there? Who was I to be here in their presence, in their room?  And most importantly, “How could I help?”

Questions abounded.  Questions were all I had, aside from a scattering of cards on the nightstand and a name.  There were no stories. No ego. No identity. No parents. No tests or grades, no government targets.  Just me and them, both in our vulnerability. One sitting, one lying.

The truth is, I wasn’t there just to do some kind of good.  I was an investigator with questions about consciousness. I saw each dying person as a portal to another world. I wanted to know how to reach across the chasm of silence that lay between us and to have a conversation. For reasons I can’t give space to, I was there to ask “What can you teach me?” “What do you know that I don’t?” I was curious. Strangely, without all the usual props of life stories and drama, without a professional role, without words, I had the freedom to study human connection much more deeply than usual.  With their permission (of a kind), I experimented in service with on and off body touch, music, song, prayer, and meditation. I watched their physical responses.  I eventually measured their responses in a study using biofeedback. I discovered that ….oh yes, they certainly did know I was there. They were responding, at least on some level.  They not only recognized me, we formed a non-verbal relationship.  I learned that the most important thing I gave was my willingness to be taught, my respect, my blessing and my great curiosity.  I learned that the most disempowered people had incredible power, even the power to help me find my own power. How cool was that?

Later I would have a regular hospice job which came with pay and a long list of patients, paperwork, meetings, and politics. At team meetings we talked about regulations, family dynamics and medications.  I was surprised to find so much burnout on my co-workers’ stern faces.  I didn’t hear many inner questions, nor did I see traces of the heart’s deeper journey.  There were too few large questions, too many small answers. Most had also pulled away from each other as colleagues. Though surely they cared, they seemed to have forgotten something important:  to do this work they needed to take their own deeper dive.  The cost of losing questions and resisting the gifts of the vulnerable ones seemed to be disconnection. Disconnection seemed to be mysteriously connected to burnout. Working this way left marks on my own heart and body that were hard to endure. Eventually I left to be a volunteer again, which paid much better in certain ways.

But don’t read this and despair.  Each day as teachers we can seize an opportunity for the miraculous.  We can find the most challenging, irksome student in our class in our mind and heart and befriend them. Before entering the classroom, perhaps we can imagine them sleeping before us as an old person, or a newborn without language or identity, without the problems we k

now so well. Perhaps we find the opportunity to have a silent conversation with them in this most primordial state, or just as we know them asking “What do you know that I don’t?”

The truth is that whoever we are helping is at least partly our teacher, too.  And if this is true, how are we doing in their class? Is it that they are not listening and sitting still, or is it that we are not?

What might change if we saw them like th

is, received their gift, or said thank you?

Go ahead and try it.

Show up. Be silently present.

In the silence find your own questions.

I promise you, something will change.

 

And how exciting will that be?

 

Want to know more about what being with the aged or dying taught me?  Or even the great value of silent learning?  Check out The School of Unusual Life Learning, or join in for a free online meeting about the school Sunday November 3.  Register at pilgrimsoullschool@gmail.com.  Or Just click here at  3 p.m. EST Sunday.  

Jeanne Denney MA, P.E.

The Coherent Community (and what I wish every human knew)

Strange times we are living in.  With SO much worldwide division, unrest, dislocation and violence, thinking about either coherence OR community seems like a thing of history or an utter pipedream.  I write this blog in American in the 21st Century.  Is it even possible to achieve these things in our post-modern landscape that has been utterly redefined by technology?  But I have been thinking about them both here in rust belt America.  A lot.  I am watching where it seems to still live, where it has been lost and what community itself is made of.  Did we ever have it?  Was whatever was had of traditional “American Life” just  a product of repression, abuse or xenophobia?   Is there anything to be salvaged from the world of the destructive and violent 20th century we have inherited?  What does community even mean any more in a time of corporate occupation, social media domination, epidemic anxiety and rampant narcissism?  Big questions.

I have tons and tons of thoughts, feelings, theories about these things.  What insights I have come from is the same unlikely place that I often write about:  what the body and energy and relationships of people growing, aging and dying have taught me.  I can hear you saying “What can that possibly have to do with any of our large social/political problems?”  Well (if you are asking that)….everything.

Take a look at this film, or listen to this lecture and you will get a look at how three social science researchers have connected death anxiety to our political and social behavior.  And guess what?  It explains a LOT.   Death and dying not only has deep implications for us as individuals thinking about our lives, and for relationships, it has huge implications for our culture, communities and groups, in ways that would take way more than a blog to tell you.

But here is the upshot.

Existential anxiety (or the anxiety of being reminded of our own death) has been shown to cause people to:

  • Stay closer to people who we perceive are more like us (in appearance, culture, language etc).
  • Distance ourselves from people who we perceive are different than us (in the same).
  • Believe that our group is superior to other groups.
  • Identify with ideologies that promise immortality (i.e. religions)
  • Align ourselves with strongmen or narcissistic leaders.
  • Adopt punishing or punitive or even violent remedies of those we might perceive as different, or who violate our ideas of goodness.

Woah, woah, woah…so this is all just personal FEAR?  

According to these researchers, death anxiety is the ultimate fear running unconsciously in the human psyche.  It threatens self-esteem, and can threaten a person’s belief that they play an important role in a meaningful world.  This feeling is so intolerable to the human psyche that we will do almost anything to protect ourself from that thought, or the symbolic immortality we identify with.  Including destroy others.

If this was the only reality it would be a sad day, because of course death is a part of our story and an important part of our life.  But guess what?  Skillful work with death and dying is also the remedy.  Over and over I observed that when we encounter mortality in ways that are loving, natural and supported the opposite was also true.  Being with this kind of dying actually…

  • Reduces existential anxiety.
  • Gives us self-esteem.
  • Connects us with others even over differences
  • Helps us heal personally, find our unity with nature and each other.
  • Become more tolerant in general.
  • Creates bonds between people that are deep, real and lasting.

This raises some really important questions in a time of epidemic loneliness and anxiety.  Could it be that systemic miseducation about mortality,  living in a death ignorant culture,  and keeping death out of sight has actually created some of our social issues?  Could it be that skillful work with dying might bring us some of the depth of healthy community connection that we long for?  I have seen this to be absolutely true.   We need conscious death to help our tribes (or communities) cohere. Hence my work with things like this.

Studying energetics of connection has taught me so many other profoundly useful things.  Among them is how profoundly we are primates and herd animals who live best in smallish flexible groups which sit regularly together.   We actually need this sense of tribe to grow up, define ourselves, find a place in the world, survive, live and die well.  Ask any twenty-something trying to find a place in a world without this support and no lower rungs on the ladder of life!

It is necessary to find and create tribes, but not just any tribe.  Our survival hinges on learning to cohere in communities that are healthy and supportive.  Ones that not only endure, but have the capacity for wisdom and healthy interconnection with each other.  To live intelligently on this planet, our tribes need to breath and to be intelligent (just like the relationships I wrote about several weeks ago ) .  Much like individuals, groups need to engage in healthy exchange of things and members.  They need to respect boundaries, have compassion and a sense of humor, be self-deprecating, support each other and be aligned for the highest good.  In a word, we need tribes that support wisdom and cultivate wise individuals. And that in my view is the highest challenge of our time and our politics.  What is wisdom if not the capacity to metabolise and grow from what appears to be different?

Understanding our primate nature, working with our tribal nature and creating wisdom cultures that work well with other cultures,  is the last best hope for humanity.   Our processes of birth, development and aging and dying give us the most clues about how this might happen.    They are themselves are our universal human language.  They unite us as a species and they can be learned.

Well, anyway, this learning and teaching this is how I choose to spend my time in the world.  This is what we work on at the School of Unusual Life Learning.  Which, come to think of it starts in just a few weeks.  : – ) .  There are still a few places.  Thought some of you cultural creatives and planet savers might just want to know about it.

 

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The Breathing Relationship (and what I wish every child knew)

Lots of people think that I teach just about death, dying and grief. Well, I do. But the thing is, death taught me so much about all the rest of life, and almost every natural thing in it, that it was no longer possible to think about anything the same way.  One of the biggest things that hospice work taught me about, though, was relationships. That, and…ok, years of therapy work with clients.   Through all of that I began to understand relationships as organized energy, as pulsing, changing, forming and unforming bonds that had an almost physical reality without actually being physical.  I learned relationships as nature. Relationships as both temporal and eternal.  These are things our culture should teach very clearly.  But, alas, it doesn’t.  And so uneducated about their very nature, we bumble around, usually damaging mind, body and each other.

Through couples work, my own relationship “undoings”, the teachings of clients lives,  I have come to see small and large endings as predictable and even a necessary and living parts of relationship.   I could see that there was a deep conversation between beginnings and endings, that the formation of a relationship left very deep imprints on what came after, as if our nascent beginnings lay down tracks for the future.  As I watched hospice patients and their loved ones navigating ending together, or couples in conflict, there are LOTS (and lots) of old stuff making bids for resolution.   It was quite an education.  A deep one.

Here is a short takeaway:  there are predictable patterns in relationship processes we can learn.  And there are definitely things we can learn to make them better.  Since loneliness is epidemic and relationship trauma is on the rise, let me waste no time and offer a brief summary.  Here are…

Seven things I wish every school child was taught about relationships:

  • Relationships are REALLY important.  We need them to thrive or even survive. They are deeply connected to our bodies.
  • Relationships are energetic structures between people.   They are part of nature.
  • These energetic strutures are alive.  They change predictably over time.     They have to be grown and tended like tomatoes.   When we don’t, the relationship gets sickly or can die.
  • A sick relationship, or one that “died” badly can make us sick if we don’t attend to it.
  • Control and domination hurts a relationship (which, remember, is a living thing).  So do cut offs and “ghosting”.  These are violations of connection that hurt everyone.
  • Some parts of relationships end and those endings are important.  Some parts seem to be forever, especially so if we do our endings well.  If you want it to have a deep aliveness you have to learn to tolerate and even cultivate good micro-endings.
  • Relationships thrive on well-paced rhythmic exchange, the somewhat predictable alternation between contact and “space holding”.  We get a lot of our information on the other person through the pattern of this dance of “toward and away”.

Let’s talk about that last one for a minute. Our culture sees Toward and Away as Love VS Separation. Gosh this reminds me of another false opposition I like to rail about:  Life VS Death.   We are not only a youth focused, death-phobic culture, and we are also an ATTACHMENT focused, differentiation-phobic culture.  That means that we think of attachment and closeness as more loving than holding space or giving distance.   The “falling IN love” part is wonderful.  The falling away as sad and horrible.   Remind you of the Life is good, Death is bad bias?

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But wait just a darned minute.  Is this true?   I bet everyone has had the experience of shutting down emotionally because someone is just too unrelentingly close or clinging or demanding or controlling (ah, the dark side of attachment).  So somewhere along the line, an attachment that is not love can happen.  That is probably about the place where space would naturally come into the picture for regulation, integration and rest but may have been resisted.   Because relationships want to BREATHE (move, dance, modulate, exhale, inhale, pulsate) just like other living things.   These delicate creations need to move BOTH toward and away to be vital.  The loving opposite of dark attachment is actually the ability to tolerate and celebrate the beauty of someone’s differentiation process, even if they are differentiating (or becoming different) from…US in that moment.

And can there be TOO much space?  Well of course.  We all know what that feels like too, don’t we?  Waiting too long for a response, having our “bids for attention” ignored by another.  Ghosting.  Yuck.  It stinks, doesn’t it?  Being unwilling or unable to reliably engage in a rhythmic exchange of energy is another distortion of space.  It damages relationships just as much.  For some people the offer of more space means love.  For others more attachment/closeness means love.  And in these two differences so many relationships struggle.

The deeper truth seems to be that attachment and differentiation processes are both essential parts of love.  Maybe love is that rhythmic , attuned communication that knows how to reliably honor the regular toward and away.  Looked at this way, we usually don’t have to reject, replace or eject the other person or find a replacement someone to relate to.  Maybe we just need to learn to do relationship dance:  to find new roles, or tolerate another person’s changes as true.  Maybe we need to ask not what I or you need, but what the relationship itself needs at any given moment .  How much love does that take?  Maybe a lot.  But I can’t think of a better way to spend my time in this world than working toward that dance.

I could go on and on with stories.  There is a lot more to say.  You can learn more about all of this stuff HERE if you are interested in taking it further.   Applications for the School of Unusual Life Learning are accepted until May 30 when the 2019 boat leaves port.  Who knows, it could be your call to the dance of deeper relationship, and a whole lot more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why is Death so hard to say?:  Reflecting on Life’s strongest medicine

By Jeanne Denney

This column is a rewrite of a blog I did years ago at the beginning of the Kairos Network Blog.  It seemed a good time to reflect and reform the issue in the wake of current events and 10 years of learning as an educator.  

I started to offer Death Education programs in public about 10 years ago. My years of Hospice work taught me that preparing for death took a lifetime.  It had to start long before the final weeks.  I called my first program “Planning on Dying”.  I hoped to help people contemplate mortality and claim a role in their own dying process.   I called another program for somatic practitioners “The Core of Dying”, and later taught college Death and Dying classes.  These classes were different, but each were strong medicine that changed lives before my eyes.  Eventually, as my work took me deeper, I facilitated programs on Life exploration in a program called “The Art of Dying” and “Integrative Thanatology” and presented at conferences and training institutes.  

Over the years, as I have asked for friends, family and enlightened souls for feedback on what I am doing, I will often hear responses like these.  ”Do you have to use the words ‘death’ or ‘dying’ in your title?  Can’t you just say ‘end of life’, ‘passing on’, ‘crossing over’?”  ”Can’t you talk about life, not death?” ”Can’t you somehow be more reassuring in your title?”  “Can you bring in sex?”  “Can you make it entertaining?”   I hear that there is something off-putting about the ‘D’ words that will instantly drive people away in droves if I use them, much like a leaf-blower on an autumn driveway. Death doesn’t sell.  Every marketer knows this.

I have been stunned at the consistency of these remarks over the years, the creativity of the euphemisms for death, and the truth of the resistance the ‘D’ words bring about.  Obviously I didn’t take this advice.  I say it.  And then I wrestle with the question:   Why is Death so hard to say?  Or perhaps more accurately, so hard to hear? 

Of course now I have many more answers to that question than I did in my first years of Death Ed.  I know that we Americans deny the facts and the processes in our life and culture and this denial is a silent and solemn pact between us.  As a result, when death comes, is most often experienced as a foreign and traumatic event.  It is rarely a simple and beautiful processes to be supported, celebrated and enjoyed, no less than a first birthday or a graduation.  The ICU and organ harvesting has not made this process any friendlier. 

I now know the psychological research which shows how existentially anxious we are as a species in our time, and how this unconscious fear animates much human behavior.   I know that this fact has been linked to racial and religious hatred and human violence.  Death, in other words, is the big elephant in the room of our human psyche.  I know we protect our psyches from things that seem too large. 

I also see that we generally make two faulty correlations:

1)  Death, pain and trauma are the same thing.  This is probably because death CAN include trauma and pain, because there has been a lot of traumatic death in history and perhaps because Hollywood and the internet makes a lot of money obsessively re-creating these now fairly atypical deaths.

2)  Life and death are opposites.  This pervasive assumption is seen in the way that these two words are commonly paired as opposites: “Life and Death”, “Life OR Death”,  ”End of life” (for death), etc.  We sometimes correct ourselves at bedsides or wakes by remembering a deeper truth:  “Death is part of life”.  Indeed. But we might ask how death can be a part of life and also its opposite.

But here is the most important thing I have learned about teaching death in these years.  Even though speaking directly of death can evoke fear, denial, resistance and hostility,  learning about death heals the very wounds our fear emanate from.  Time and again, class after class I have seen that real death education opens hearts, fosters unusually deep bonds between unlikely friends and offers relief for existential distress.  What is most feared seems to be the deepest, and safest, medicine on the planet, especially in a time of epidemic loneliness and existential anxiety.  And so I teach using the “D” word, challenging folks to come forward for a much needed renewal of life.  Because death is not, after all, the opposite of life any more than rain is the opposite of water.  It is one of life’s most essential healing processes.  Life, as far as I can see, is a constantly pulsing, expanding and contracting energy which has no opposite. 

Maybe Death does not sell.  That is…. until its teachings are so necessary that we can’t look away.  In this moment of our great, collective, existential spasm, I offer this column so that our relationship with death may be healed and its teachings received.  I bring up the ‘D’ words so that they can be restored to a place of dignity, and associated with words like lightness, ease, delight, and joy.  Pain may be involved with death, but also even ecstasy and transformation. I write and teach that we can see death in its true and necessary place in the dance of life, and how deeply we each need its teaching.  Now.  More than ever.  

May our study begin.

Viewing my country, “America” from Across the Pond

Dawn.  Looking out over red tile roofs at the rolling hills and fields of southern Czecholslovakia from a solid table in a simple spacious room that has, of course, been here for several hundred years.  This house sits in a tiny village.  I mean tiny:  a church, a school and about 6 houses. The view is breathtaking as the fall colors begin.   The view here is different in more ways than one, and I woke thinking about my country, “America”.  Believe me, I have been more than glad to have a break from being in it and hearing the daily tidings of outrage, feeling the constant anxiety.   I haven’t had so many conversations here.  But when I have, I have occasionally said things like:  “We are having a hard time in America” or “It is difficult there now.  My country is really struggling.”  The response from people in these much older countries has been interesting.   Largely a shrug.  A relative indifference.  “Ah well, things come and go. The next thing will happen.”  “It won’t be forever.”  A woman from India said “It had to fall. How could it go on like that?”

Your own country gets different when you travel:  smaller, and more unified in some way, more laughable.  Sometimes more noble.  Or not.  Its easier to see larger themes, maybe something like an Near Death Experience. You review it all from a distance, knowing you have to return.  This is incredibly useful. This morning, sun rising through the clouds and over the misty hills of the Czech Republic, I see that we Americans are first of all are more similar than different.  That is important to remember.  Second, that what is uniting us now is that we are suffering from the same disease, left/right, coastal/interior, north/south.   The disease is Hysteria.   There is a general call to arms, a certainty that the sky is falling.  An unquestioned conclusion that we know who the enemy is and an agreement that we must fight that enemy to the death.   We differ on what can’t be allowed to fall:  family values, corporate profits, school lunches, employment figures, taxes, core curriculums, the presidential code of conduct, environmental standards, Obamacare, our standard of living, our whiteness, our nation itself.  What unites us is a general sense that things we have decided are good must not change, end or die.

I am not saying that a lot of those things I just listed aren’t pretty damned important (Environmental standards tops my personal list).  I am not saying not to care about what we find important.  This morning I am just noticing that care and hysteria are different.  Care is sober and grounded.    A caring person can flex to hear what someone else is caring about, laugh at himself and come up with a third, and better idea.  A hysterical person can only hear the voice of their own fear.   From here it looks like our responses are just shaking the acorn tree.  Doesn’t Hysteria generally make things worse?  God only knows, we might bring out the military next (and again) to defend our broken hearts instead of grieving what is being lost, caring more deeply.

Frankly, from here it is clear that the Europeans are collectively more maturity than we are.   This seems to be precisely because they have swallowed more than one spoonful of suffering.  They have had things taken away, lived with less, seen what was precious be destroyed.  And rebuilt.  Three times.  Five times.  They have kept the old in front of them, haven’t swept it away.  It seems to be a reminder of how to withstand, that they are durable, and that things do endure.    Here in eastern Europe there are also stern, daily reminders of what hysteria can do.  Their collective memory holds holocausts, famines, brutal leaders, communism, Nazism and wars.  Lots of people also sit in rooms like the one I am sitting in, rooms that have seen many births and deaths.   They have earned their calm. Maybe we can learn something from that.  This week, as I approach a weekend of teaching about Life and Death in the Netherlands, I am very grateful for these reminders to stay calm and also to care.  May I take them home for when the hurricane season is over.

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Does Life have an Opposite?: Moving With and Beyond Kairos

 

All things, if they are alive, transform.  Meaning, there appear to be beginnings and endings in them.  The Pendulum Blog is no exception.  It has a parent:  The Kairos Network Blog, where I, and others, wrote about End of Life Care experiences.   But there has been a yearning to develop larger ideas about life, illness, birth and death further and more generally, so there is this new blog child.  Don’t all healthy children go way beyond the limits of a parent?  Here are some of my musings about how this new blog came into being as I wholeheartedly invite you into it.  

The Pendulum’s work is to teach about regulation, about moving with order, grace and conherence through the larger arcs of the bigger life I call LIFE (not just “life” in a body).  We could even say it will teach that thing called Wisdom which puts forth clearly that what is new is not the opposite of what came before, but of one piece.  These days it is almost all I teach, and I will be teaching it here.  Stay tuned.

by Jeanne Denney

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A few falls ago a friend of mine was teaching a class in a local college called “Sociology of Aging”.  Typical class of about 25 suburban 20-something year olds.  It was the first time that she had ever taught this class, and she was finding the class kind of shut down.   Part of the class requirements were to interview an older adult, but after a few discussions Sue realized that they were actually afraid of old people, looking at them, seeing them, being seen by them, talking to them.  “Jeanne, come talk to them…  I think that they are afraid of death.”

What were they afraid of?  I wondered.  Old people aren’t usually powerful enough to be threatening or aggressive.  They are largely ignored.  They are generally very happy for attention and companionship.  They like to talk if they still have the capacity.  They like to be listened to. They usually like to be touched.  What was it that they were afraid of?  Toothlessness?  Crooked joints?  The smell of canned gravy and urine?  It was a puzzle.

I can’t remember what I presented.  I think I talked about how there is a life principle of pulsation that distinguishes all life forms, but that it is also present in all forms of nature.  I talked about the complimentary principles of contraction and expansion, about their balance in coherent states.   I talked about how most everything in our minds and bodies works on this principle.  I had everyone breathe three times in and out to experience it.  Then, after having them hold the different points in the in and out cycle of their breath, I had them experience the discomfort of resisting the movement of pulsation. I made the point that if we are going to be alive, death (exhale) has to be a part of the equation.  Then I talked about how marketing and media that is so much of our culture generally celebrates only the expansive principle.  The rest is considered trauma.    I asked them questions like these:

  • “Have you ever had an experience with someone aging or dying?”.
  • “How does the fact that we only celebrate expansion (such as the stage of life you are in) impact people who are facing aging or dying in this culture?”  Did they think that the aged were their opposites, or something in aging was going to consume them?
  • I asked “What are the gifts of aging?”

Moving Against the Tide of Marketing

I listened to them shyly talk about their encounters with people who were sick or who had died, grandparents mainly, some aunts and uncles, some friends.  It seemed clear that when they had heart connections with real old people in their lives they were enriched by contact, but somehow in the abstract, it seemed that the very idea of the pull into elderhood seemed a threat, as if they were going to lose their tenuous hold on the adulthood they thought they were trying to birth by being in touch with it.  They were afraid to touch the tide moving in another direction or at a different frequency.  Perhaps they did not feel strong enough.

At one point in the conversation about pulsation I remember turning to a young man and saying:  “What I am trying to say is that Death is not the opposite of Life!”.  He was silent for a moment, and finally responded.  “Well, if Death is not the opposite of Life….what IS the opposite of Life?

That was one of those rare and beautiful moments in teaching when teacher and student are one.  I responded from some place in the black box of my being, a place unreachable by will, intention or the human ego, unreachable without the students question.  After the long moment I returned:  “Why does life have to have an opposite?”

The words fell like a thick stone into a still pool.  We both fell still, knowing we had been given a large thing to chew on.And chew I have, for several years now.

In that question and response was nested my work most likely for the rest of my life.  Not that it had not already started, but it began to gain a clarity.   Teaching the unity of death and birth, meaning the nature of life itself as pulsation and energy, not just bodily identity,  is my work.   Of course this has been done for gillions of years in wisdom cultures, but it is clear that we need a new lens, a new language uniting scientific and poetic languages with experience, a new way to discover it and permission for the same.  And so I am showing up to speak and write and teach about all of this in a new form, perhaps making a fool of myself, perhaps not being understood.  All ok.

To me it is clear that wrongheaded conceptions and definitions of life and death are at the core of most human ills, and that right and even more scientifically accurate viewing of both are at the core of (yes I will be grandiose), saving the planet  ; – )  and….even having a good and happy life.   This is all a long way of saying that I am starting this new blog where I can support myself in this task.

Does Kairos End?

I started Kairos Network blog deeply in love with this word Kairos.  It is a greek and means non-linear time, perhaps even magical, serrendipitous time,  the place in the heart where all things start, perhaps that still point between the beats.   A non-dual place of true opportunity, creation and blessedness.  The Bardo, perhaps, in every moment.

For the past few years I have offered  posts in the Kairos Network Blog, and hosted wonderful writers in the hopes of just advancing dialogue on end of life, a kind of sandbox play for end of life (hate that idiom) caregivers.  I am so grateful to those of you who have read, shared, commented, supported, contributed.   It didn’t need to be a success in the ordinary way (you know the marketing, branding way).  Indeed wouldn’t that take away from it?  I don’t know how to do that kind of success anyway.  I never intended for it to feature just my experiences (unfortunately it hasn’t quite worked out that way…yet). My blog production fell off in part because I was doing less active end of life care and, well there is so much more I really want to write about, as important as this is.  I need to write here.

But the Kairos Network Blog will definately continue, even if it is slow, and I emphatically rejoice to accept guest blogs from caregivers ready to write and reflect coherently about their aging parents, their own illnesses and family members.   I may change its appearance, and I will occasionally post there about end of life care issues myself, but mainly I am refocusing my writing energy to  The Pendulum and will make a regular committment to write about the really big picture (see upcoming workshop) and how it manifests in our daily lives at any age.  Through working birth and death and everything in between, I have come to see that the life force itself is a moving, breathing entity we can directly perceive at work in self and others. How are birth and death related in these waves?  If LIFE is movement more than anything else, how does it move?  How we can see it at work? What have things as diverse as electromagnetism and trees taught us about it?   How do we learn to take care of and sustain it? You can find it here.  Seem vague or boring?  It won’t be.

Come to think about it, of course this is a death/rebirth project.  The Kairos Network Blog is not ending, but it is transforming and connecting to its new offspring.  The Pendulum will keep time in a different way, hopefully keeping the mystery of the movement of time and the beat of a heart alive within it (as all good children do).

I hope if you will consider hitting the Follow button (upper left).  I will welcome you as in moments of transformation all things need their nurturance.

Yours is so welcome.

With peace and good heart and thanks.

Your friend in the love of elders.  And for that matter, all living things.

Jeanne

Jeanne Denney is a therapist, hospice worker and death educator in the Greater New York area. Her website is http://www.jeannedenney.com and email is jeannedenney@gmail.com.  Friend me on facebook!