Living Fully, Dying Well: Reflecting on Death to Find Your Life's Meaning

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Sounds True, Jun 1, 2009 - Self-Help - 352 pages
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“How can you take the fear of death and turn it into something profound, something positive? What is the alchemy that allows someone who is in a metaphorical desert to turn around and see a flower?”—Tina L. Staley

“Death—the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.”—Sir Walter Scott

Most of us try to avoid thinking about death until the moment we come face-to-face with it. But when we have the courage to accept our inevitable mortality—and even to contemplate it actively, as a spiritual practice—we open the door to living fully, joyfully, and in complete presence. Living Fully, Dying Well is an investigation into the challenge each of us faces—to embrace all of life, from the beginning to the end.

When death approaches, many of us undergo a profound transformation—we let go of old distractions and focus with new clarity on what gives our life meaning. Yet we can invite these profound “deathbed revelations” at any point in our lives by engaging in an honest inquiry into our own mortality. Living Fully, Dying Well provides a doorway to begin your own exploration of the mysteries of death—from the cultural myths about dying, to the personal fears we all share, to the question of what becomes of us beyond this life.

Living Fully, Dying Well unfolds as a dialogue between spiritual leaders and medical healers, each of whom brings their own unique perspective to the universal human experience of death. These luminaries offer their stories, their insights, and their most valuable practices, all to transform death from a source of fear to an opportunity to reveal the true richness of your life.

Living Fully, Dying Well has received the following awards:

  • 2010 Gold Independent Publishers Award (IPPY)—Aging/Death & Dying
  • 2010 Gold Nautilus Award—Grieving/Death & Dying
  • 2010 Gold Living Now Award—Grieving/Death & Dying
 

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Contents

Coming to Terms with Our Mortality
3
A Life of Deaths and More Life
11
Care from the Heart
25
Living Through Our Dying
43
The Great Opportunity
57
Purgatory and the River of Light and Gaia
71
Life After Life?
89
Afterlife and Reincarnation Reconsidered
103
Meditations and Preparation for
187
The Dissolution of the Body Meditation
194
Practices for the Caregiver
207
Visualizations for Emotional Healing
229
Ministering to the Bereaved
237
Acknowledgments
245
A Selected Reading List
267
Index
273

Are You Living Fully?
143
Exercises for Facing Our Mortality
161
A Voice for the Planet
168
A Testimonial Dinner for Severe Teachers
175
Transforming Pain with Affirmations of LovingKindness
181
About the Authors
293
The Spiritual Paths Foundation
303
Pathfinders
309
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Edward W. Bastian

Edward W. Bastian, PhD, is a Buddhist scholar and teacher and was executive producer for a series of award-winning BBC and PBS programs about religion and three films about Tibetan Buddhism for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He taught classes about world religion and directed the biodiversity program at the Smithsonian Institution. He is president of the Spiritual Paths Foundation (www.spiritualpaths.net), which offers a two-year certificate program about InterSpiritual Wisdom, weekend retreats, and programs about spirituality and the environment.

Edward Bastian has received the following awards for Living Fully, Dying Well:

  • 2010 Gold Independent Publishers Award (IPPY) - Aging/ Death & Dying
  • 2010 Gold Nautilus Award - Grieving / Death & Dying
  • 2010 Gold Living Now Award - Grieving / Death & Dying


Tina L. Staley

Tina L. Staley, LCSW, MSW, is director of Pathfinders at Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center. She cofounded the Pathfinder program in Aspen, Colorado, an organization dedicated to empowering cancer patients and their families to rediscover their inner strengths and take back their lives.

Tina Staley has received the following awards for Living Fully, Dying Well:

  • 2010 Gold Independent Publishers Award (IPPY) - Aging/ Death & Dying
  • 2010 Gold Nautilus Award - Grieving / Death & Dying
  • 2010 Gold Living Now Award - Grieving / Death & Dying


Tessa Bielecki

Tessa Bielecki is Mother Abbess of the Spiritual Life Institute, a Carmelite community with hermitages in Colorado, Nova Scotia, and Ireland. She studied for a career in international relations at Trinity College in Washington, D.C., before entering a monastery in 1967. Mother Tessa is actively involved in Buddhist-Christian dialogs and international initiatives exploring world peace and planetary survival. She is the author of Teresa of Avila: Ecstasy and Common Sense; Holy Daring; and Teresa of Avila: Mystical Writings and publisher of Forefront, a quarterly magazine of contemporary spirituality.


Joan Halifax

Joan Halifax, Ph.D an anthropologist, Buddhist teacher, and writer, has worked with dying people since 1970. She has been on the faculties of Columbia University, the University of Miami School of Medicine, the New School for Social Research, The Naropa Institute, and the California Institute for Integral Studies. Her books include The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); Shamanic Voices; Shaman: The Wounded Healer; and The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting with the Body of the Earth. She founded The Ojai Foundation, an educational center, in 1979, and Upaya (a Buddhist study center) in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1990. In 1994, she created the Project on Being with Dying as a way to train healthcare professionals in contemplative care of the dying.


Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is founder and director of the Spiritual Eldering Project and the P'nai Or Religious Fellowship in Philadelphia. Rabbi Shachter was a professor of religion at the University of Manitoba and Temple University for more than 30 years.


Marilyn Schlitz
Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, is a social anthropologist, award-winning author, and charismatic speaker who has been a leader in the field of consciousness studies for more than three decades. She is the coauthor of Consciousness and Healing: Integral Approaches to Mind-Body Medicine and Living Deeply: The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life. She serves as president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, founder/CEO of Worldview Enterprises, senior scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center, and board member of the Pacifica Graduate Institute. For more information about her work and offerings, visit marilynschlitz.com.
Mirabai Starr

Mirabai Starr teaches philosophy and world religions at the University of New Mexico, and is the author of new translations of Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross and The Interior Castle and The Book of My Life by Teresa of Avila. She lives in Taos.

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