For most of us the concept of death is something we bare with clenched fists and a stomach full of churning denial. When it is visited upon us we dig deep into that denial and find a pit of rage, a chasm of awkward, ugly disbelief, and an ocean of sorrow too deep and abysmal to cross. Death can leave even the hardiest spiritualista feeling wiped out, in doubt and desperately alone.
That said, I don't want this article to focus on the spiral of negativity that can and does so often consume us. Rather I want to redirect our feelings to the gifts that death brings, and indeed the fascinating insights the ending of life can usher forward. More specifically, I want to consider the thought that our life goes on beyond the physical obviousness of death.
All those of a spiritual nature must contemplate, from time to time that there is more to life. You would not be here had you not considered this. Perhaps you have experienced something, be it a ghost, a psychic moment or a connection with a departed loved one that cannot be denied. Perhaps you have hazy memories from a past life, or find yourself called, inexplicably to study and read spiritual books that promote the idea of life going on.
I know that when I started out on my spiritual trip, this was precisely where my head took me. I read books that presented fabulous evidence of life after death, reincarnation and indeed a spiritual life between lives. At this same time my Grandfather died, and with my head already swirling in a mass of fascinating spiritual thought, he gifted me with signs that not only was he still around 'in spirit' but that he had a fairly good sense of humour about his life, his passing, and our continued connection. Years later and my other Grandfather died, the way it happened, whilst shocking to those around him, was filled with so many blessings and hidden gifts. His passing revealed to me that even in the uncertainty and seeming madness of disease, a perfect set of circumstances can accumulate. Tokens of love can be ushered out, when least expected, and life can swing wildly between giving and taking, heartfelt gain and lifealtering loss.
I have previously written about a time when I once had a vision, or a dream or a remembrance (no words truly describe what I experienced) about the state of life. I wrote about it here... In this dreamlike memory I recalled a place before my life as Alice and I woke up in the biggest fit of hysterical hilarity and giggles I ever have had. For me that memory was of a place so familiar, so spectacular, so real. Whilst I was there I was reminded that the earth upon which we parade our lives, our happiness and our woes, is fleeting, it is stage, it isn't quite real. Our life as we know it right now is but a place of learning, and all those things that we invest so much energy and heartfelt thought into, are, essentially, irrelevant.
This isn't to say that all experience here is pointless. Nor is life a bad or good joke. But rather that the things we consume ourselves with, the daft stuff, the worries, the drama, now all of that is truly laughable. It may take death to lighten that load, we may need to lose our bodies so that we can lose the muck in our minds. But I don't believe this has to be the case. I believe we can start to gain a healthier more spiritual perspective now, simply by asking ourselves this, "if I / you / we died tomorrow, would this thought /situation / feeling / argument matter?"
I was recently reading back through my first book The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment. I undertook several past life regressions as research, and rereading those experiences lit a little fire under my spirit once again. I truly believe in life after death and life between lives. My personal past life regressions clearly showed me experiences in previous lives that had been so full of meaning and lessons, and that I can see reflect still in my life today as Alice Grist. For anyone in doubt about the nature of their forever selves, I highly recommend a past life regression, or if you can't stomach it, feel free to read all about mine here...
Death is still a frightening concept, of course it is. Whilst we are in our human bodies, subject to our intense emotions, we are unlikely to ever deal well with death. Nor would we want to. We are here to run the gamut of ups and downs and to feel everything that this life presents us with. However it is possible to feel the horror and sadness of death, and yet still believe it is not the end. We can embrace death as much as we revile it. We can choose to learn from it and grow from it and glow in the light which it sheds upon our lives.
Death is never without meaning. For every loved one we lose, something is gained, something is gifted from their spirit to ours. For those losses we can cry, we can sob, we can weep. But when the tears settle and the memories flood us and we smell Nana's perfume, or we hear her voice in our mind, or we find a little note she wrote us, or we are gifted with the inspiration to do as she did, to love or live or find compassion as she did, then her life continues within us, and I am sure her spirit continues alongside us also in some energetic, etheric form, stroking our energy, holding us, laughing with us, at us, within us.
Living life in denial of death is a life insufficiently lived. If we embrace that concept then we can get the best out of our current existence. If we take this further, and look to an idea of life going on beyond death, then we get not only comfort, but insight. If we look for the signs of this insight in the world around us, in little miracles and within our own hearts, then we become wise as we move within the mysterious circle of living.
Death is but a stepping stone to truth. The truth of human life, truth of our higher self, truth of the eternal and forever nature of the soul of the cosmos and of Mother Nature. This truth will twist and turn along with our adventures and our moods. We will accept it, deny it, embrace it and loathe it throughout our existence. Yet the truth of it, the acknowledgement of it as a certainty, a distinct possibility, a likelihood, an inevitable is empowering in ways unfathomable.
Published as part of Alice's March 2014 Newsletter, sign up for regular spiritual articles, resources and insight here...
Below is an excerpt from my first book The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment. It comes from the chapter about life after death and reincarnation. To better explore the subject I went for a past life regression... Little did I know what magicky events awaited me. Here is what happened...
It was my reading of Dr Michael Newton’s books that really set me off wanting to experience past life regression for myself, although it was not something that I actively pursued until sometime after I first read them. A couple of years I was giving them a second reading, when coincidentally a friend asked me to attend Bikram Yoga with her. Bikram is the sweaty kind of yoga done in silly hot conditions. The Bikram Yoga center hired out rooms to all kinds of therapists and I found myself face to face with a leaflet for a young past life regressionist, Ms Lucy Gibbs. As I had been exploring the subject again it occurred to me that this was a great opportunity to indulge in some past life investigation. I was pleased that this would be in familiar surroundings, and I realized that it would be a great compliment to re-reading the books. I embraced this coincidence and figured I would have been a bit mad not to have a go!
I booked myself in and the day approached. I have to be honest and say that I got myself in a real flap in the lead up to my regression. I researched other people’s experiences of past lives and became acutely aware that it was likely that I would see my own past death scene, or maybe even multiple death scenes. As a result I got more and more worked up about the whole event. On the day I arrived early and sat in my car ready to fend off parking attendants who appeared to be loitering with intent. I felt positively anxious, if not a little on the terrified side.
Now I can be a skittish rabbit from time to time, but I had truly gotten myself vexed about this situation. I entered that office like a Playboy bunny fresh from a beach blonde bleach that had soaked too far into the scalp, entered the bloodstream and left me ditzy. There was little that the therapist could do to appease my nerves. She was very nice, and of course she said all the right things, but by this point I was pretty convinced I had died a horrible, traumatic and painful death and it was only a matter of minutes before I relived it in surround sound, Technicolor glory.
As a result of my all-encompassing nerves I honestly believe I was only half hypnotized. I am sure that the therapist earned her money with me, as I was pretty hard work. I was scared to death of death, but the more Lucy tried to relax me, the more I felt my conscious mind kicking into gear. I simply could not shut my mind off in the way I wanted to, and instead of allowing the hypnosis to take over, my busy brain kept coming back in and trying to sabotage any images or thoughts with logic. (That’s got to be the first time anybody has ever referred to my brain as being logical!) I convinced myself I was not hypnotized, I said to myself I was not relaxed, I thought that anything that came into my head I was simply making up to make the hypnotist feel better. It was ridiculous! But in spite of all this, eventually I had some truly interesting experiences.
Due to my Playboy Bunny brain being on overload, I believe that I felt much of the past life regression in my physical body rather than mentally. So whilst my head was listening out for the yoga class next door finishing, or hearing the noise of cars and caught up in listening to police sirens from the city below, my body had slipped into a state of physical hypnosis, and along with some unconscious part of my brain, I was experiencing some odd sensations.
The first physical ‘feeling’ came apparent when Lucy took me back into my mother’s womb. Whilst my thoughts were racing on how silly this all was I did begin to feel a change in my physical body. My tummy seemed to swell and my hands that rested on it felt as though they were rested on a big round belly, rather than my normal (more or less) flat one. I felt a heartbeat intensely and all around me. Lucy asked me how I felt about coming into the world and I experienced a significant pang of anxiety in my solar plexus. I knew then that physically, if not mentally, I was remembering the womb, and that as a baby about to be born I was nervous, worried and anxious – perhaps a reflection of how easily I get into a dither about things now (past life regression included)! Despite this worry about my imminent birth, I did feel an immense sense of joy, wellbeing and a peace, calm and innocence that I cannot remember experiencing before.
We moved from here into trying to view my past life or lives. Again I questioned the images coming to me. Lucy asked me to look at my feet and report back what I was wearing. In my mind’s eye I thought I could see rags on my feet, and disappointed by this I decided to say I saw nothing. I was still fighting the hypnosis and convincing myself that my brain was making it all up. In many respects it does feel like you are making it up, although not purposefully. It is very difficult to accept that the images you see are not planted there by a desire to see something, rather than because they are actual past life memories.
That said if I was making it up it certainly does not explain the bizarre and extremely non-rock ‘n’ roll life I appeared to have had as a nun working in an orphanage. Yes, it‘s true; I was apparently a nun. When I did relax enough to get some images and feelings, I only believed them because they were too damned weird for me to have made up. If I was going to have lived before I was hoping I had been an American Native Indian or at the very least a maid to Cleopatra, something with a bit of ’wow factor’, but no apparently not.
The way I discovered this holy role was again through physical symptoms rather than any obvious mental images. It started in my body, I felt my arms curl in on themselves and one side of my body curve over and become useless. I knew this was peculiar and told Lucy, who explored it more. She asked what was wrong with me, and although I could not name it I felt and knew that I was old, arthritic and tired. She asked me why and the answer that seemed to fall out of my mouth was, ‘too many babies’. But when questioned I knew these babies were not mine; they had been my job. For year upon long year I had looked after other peoples’ very young abandoned babies. I was exhausted from it and my body had become crippled due to the physical demands. I was sad that now after years of being the carer, it was now others who cared for me. I felt useless. I knew that I did not have any friends and that my life had been entirely functional, day in, day out. I did not love babies, nor did I dislike them, I just looked after them. I knew all this without having to be asked, I knew I was frustrated, maybe a little bitter. I knew I had devoted my life to the church, I could feel my background was European, possibly Spanish or French but definitely not British, I knew that my nun’s habit was dull gray in color. I did not really get a decent image or feeling for my death scene, but I believe it was in a bed and that the priest was there, maybe with other nuns, and it was a peaceful, welcome death.
That, in essence, was what I learned from this first past life regression. In many respects it makes some sense. I have always been averse to babies and looked at them as extremely hard and slightly intimidating work. I have not generally been a ‘children’ person, and have in the past sworn that I will never have them. Prior to the past life regression I found babies exhausting and whenever a proud mummy asked me if I wanted to hold her bundle of joy I would cringe inwardly but accept only out of politeness. Even as a child I remember a distinct feeling that I did not want babies, that they were nothing but work and even then I would look at them as little alien beings that might start crying and make me feel on edge.
Since the past life regression I am a lot more relaxed about tiny kiddies, I can appreciate them in a way I certainly did not before the hypnosis. I even occasionally get broody, in spite of my reservations about the work of nappies, vomit and screaming. I see babies now as potential people, rather than as unrelenting graft. I appreciate that having a child might mean being enslaved to it in some respects, but that once the baby phase is over, the real drudgery will be over, and that other phases in the child’s life would commence. My own reluctance to have children has become less hardened. Indeed I may have even considered producing a small brood at some stage myself. This for me was an eye opener and represents personal evidence that past life regression works on some levels.
Some might argue that all regression does is tap into your fears or dislikes and conjures up a story to help, and if this is true then at least it helps. However, it does not explain my intense physical feelings of old age, or why I would tap into a dislike of children and ‘cure it’. My aversion to babies was far from being a crippling phobia or even a true fear. I personally do not believe that I ‘tapped’ into this to help with my mild distaste for infants, I just think that it was an interesting side effect of viewing a life that has clearly had some small impact on my current one.
The strangest and best thing about this experience is yet to come. The day after my past life regression I was seriously aggrieved with myself. I felt I had not relaxed properly and as a result had wasted my time, money and effort on something that I had not fully engaged with. That morning I was taking an unexpected trip to the local supermarket. Marching down one of the aisles I rang my boyfriend close to tears to tell him how frustrated I was with myself. I looked to the side for a second, no doubt distracted by chocolate, as I turned back round, right in front of me stood a little old nun, wearing a grey habit and doing her shopping, trolley and all! I nearly fell over in shock. I had not seen a nun in years, nor have I seen once since. Furthermore, she had simply not been there before I had turned away for that split second. However, on my second glance, she was very much there. She did not look at me, and I did not speak to her. But I left the store feeling that if there has ever been a sign sent to a person then that was most certainly one. It was that experience that proved to me that what I had experienced the day before in past life regression was real and was something I was meant to see. I no longer felt angry with myself for not fully relaxing and I left the supermarket beaming inside, knowing that the little nun had been put there by the grace of god knows what, to show me that there was truth in my experience and that I should be glad. And I was….
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