C NVERSING WITH DEATH
from Body Mind Metaphor LLC
What is Conversing with Death?
I founded Conversing with Death (CD) back in 2013 and after fifteen years of experience with hospice patients, personal experiences of loss and years of specialized training. The mentoring program is both educational and spiritual, applying western psychotherapeutic ideas to raw existential struggles we all face. This carefully structured system honors actual changes that accompany aging and illness than the many shallow claims of 'knowing' we're going to die.
How does Conversing with Death do this?
CD uses imaginal and simulated exercises to bring out a felt sense experience. While counter intuitive, CD believes in facing our fears, because by looking into our final breath--whenever it does come--we can reduce the element of surprise that often surfaces near end of life care.
Can you say more about a "felt sense experience"?
Many of our interactions about us ceasing to exist in this current body is tainted by many psychological defenses. We try to stretch longevity, sustain wishful claims of medical advances, and even pathologies serious discussions about dying. CD confronts these and other defenses by aiming to mimic emotional and mental changes that accompany the phases of decline that occur after our 40s. The more familiar we can become with the inevitable, the better.
Where can we find these exercises?
In my book Last Breath Awareness. The book even has a 30-day practice to start you off on cultivating this lifestyle. CD strongly recommends taking the workshops to gain a better view on how this approach works.
Who is eligible for this training?
I designed CD for mental and healthcare professionals, clergy, certified magicians (who work with energy and spirits), and other care-giving professionals who work with the older population (65+), chronic or terminally ill patients, and clients entering their 40s and 50s. With the Boomer generation in the millions, you can imagine the demand.
What type of training do you offer?
There is the Intro workshop. A prerequisite to other courses given, the Intro workshop awakens an existential edge that you probably overlooked a dozen times or misinterpreted its signs as being something else. The Advanced Course give you solid knowledge on how to help clients or patients with or without certain mental concerns.
I notice that you apply this approach to yoga.
And it shouldn't come to your surprise. Yoga in its antiquity teaches on the importance of living and dying. Here, in our western culture we emphasize "the six pack," curves, weight loss, and all sorts of things that have nothing to do with yoga. CD strives to hold onto yoga as taught by the yogis of old.
Does Conversing with Death explore things like the afterlife?
CD started out with the simple focus on physical death, partially because we are in a culture that denies the inevitable in spite of the brevity of life. Recently, CD has commenced an educational and spiritual program using ancient practices to explore energy and Consciousness that are involved both in this life and the next. While this new addition to CD covers a vast amount of space, CD feels it is respectful to a historical understanding of continuation.
Why didn't you include the afterlife from the start?
From the beginning, I was much in tune to how our culture avoids thinking of the mental, emotional, and physical processes of dying. It seemed to me that many quickly resorted to themes of the afterlife, but couldn't or wouldn't entertain conversations about what happens to us here.
What is your view on the afterlife and has it helped with your reflections on death?
My views have changed throughout my life, but I can say that I never fully embraced the idea that once you die there is nothing else. However, I do think that healthy skepticism is in order. Today, I am especially drawn to the theory of universal Universal Consciousness.
You would think that people who believe in the afterlife have some peace with death?
My experience in working with people--physicians, healthcare disciplines, counselors, clergy, and so on--who hold to some view of an afterlife do, in fact, have subtle to not so subtle denial systems against end of life in place. This isn't a flaw of any sorts. Instead, it confirms the sobering reality of a most powerful human phenomenon.
Why do you not consider Conversing with Death to be psychotherapy?
Western psychotherapy has had an interesting and sometimes wobbly phase of development. While I don't agree with its position as to how something is considered an official intervention--even the selection of what to explore in the lab is influenced by collective opinions and biases--I do respect some of its findings. Nevertheless, CD has had an impact on people's lives as evidenced by self-reports I've gathered over the years and in personal conversation. And while it isn't considered an official psychotherapeutic approach--the same can be said of yoga, in spite of its efficacy throughout thousands of years--CD has nicely complemented my work as psychotherapist.