All Stories

Death and Dying

Growing up in the Catholic tradition, I was always concerned about the practice of praying for the “faithful departed.” Didn’t those who were faithless, need our prayers even more? It struck me as a subtle scare tactic for the living, implying, you’d better get to church or we won’t pray for you when you’re dead. Perhaps it is a leftover from a time, not so long ago when suicide deaths and deaths of convicted murderers were assumed to be faithless and were not allowed to be buried in a Catholic cemetery with the traditional Catholic rites.

Whether you knew of this, or practices like it, directly or not, you may have internalized its effects. Ask yourself, am I forgivable? Do you bump into a place where you’re not so sure about that one thing? No matter how your loved one died, no matter what you have done in your life, we are all worthy of love now and at the hour of our death and after we pass. The judgment and fear-mongering aside, praying for souls who have departed and honoring ancestors is a practice inspired by love.

In Celtic tradition, Samhain marks the beginning of the pagan year and is considered a time when the veil of separation between life and death becomes thin. Accordingly, it is set aside as a time to honor ancestors and remember the dead. All Saints Day and All Souls Day, evolved out of this, as Christianity ‘spread’ throughout the West. In the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the practice of the Essential Phowa is offered for the dying and deceased. According to the Pathwork Guide, in any moment, we are all moving away from or toward the ‘center’ and physical death is the ultimate move toward the center.

“…Grieving is more than learning to live without a dear one. In many cases, we are required to forgive them and ourselves as we bring the story of the time we spent together to meaningful completion… Regardless of what realm a soul is in, when we grieve as a completion, our love and wisdom reach through space and time as a help and a blessing. It is never too late to help those who have died.” ~From Pocketful of Miracles by Joan Borysenko.

The work of grieving is a challenging completion. We first need to believe the loss is real. We need to feel, express and heal the multitude of feelings associated with the ended relationship. Some relationships are more complicated than others. Some deaths are more complicated than others, such as elective or spontaneous abortions, accidents, or violent deaths. We need to let go and we need to find meaning as we move forward. The work of grieving has no prescribed time limit. We do it, when we do it. In fact, some people shelve it for a time when they can get the support they need to do this work. If you have shelved some of your grief work or if you are actively grieving a loss, right now, I’d like to invite you to attend one of my Mourning Out Loud workshops. You don’t have to do it alone.

Kate Holt, Core Energetics Practitioner has a private practice in Marlton, New Jersey. Kate is most passionate about the Core Energetics Evolutionary Process. She works with couples in the Exceptional Marriage Model and teaches and supervises Core Energetics Practitioners in training. Kate leads workshops ongoing process groups.

Slogging Down the Spiritual Path

In this series of articles on the Pathwork, which is my chosen spiritual path (pun intended), I share my experiences in applying this wonderful knowledge to my day to day life.

Warm puppy alert -this material goes beyond platitudes!

First, brief background – the Pathwork is based upon a series of lectures. This first article describes my attempt to personally apply the first Pathwork lecture, entitled “The Sea of Life.” ( Feel free to substitute “Universe” or “Father/Mother/God” or whatever term you want for the Deity to whom I refer to simply as God.)

Now, to the meat. Lately I have been struggling mightily with fear – at times, this fear seems to be completely overwhelming. A self-described work-aholic and often proud of it, like many of us in this recent economic downswing, I’ve seen my savings dwindle, and my sense of financial security go down with it. My normally large workload has dwindled, I have time on my hands, and I feel as if I’m walking on financial eggshells.

I’ve also reached an age of clear maturity where – here’s my self-judgment – I “should have” this licked by now. So, now I’m not only in fear, but I’m angry at myself. If only I hadn’t left that secure job; if only I hadn’t made that investment. My mind races around and around in a kind of toxic anger around my old bone of job security. If I were looking in a mirror now, I’d be wagging my finger at myself, frowning -“You could have done better!”

Bottom line, I hate feeling out of control, and I spend a lot of time trying avoid it. (Fellow financial security control-freaks – Unite!)

So enough about me – what do you think about me? (Just kidding).

What does the “Sea of Life” say about my dilemma? (as an aside, I recommend you read each Pathwork Lecture directly, and not rely on my interpretation – clearly I have a way to go before spiritual Masterhood).

Interestingly enough (and I do believe there are no coincidences along the spiritual path), the lecture focuses on weathering life’s storms.

But the focus is not on conquering fear, but staving it off in the first place, by cultivating a commitment to radical Truth with a capital “T”. Purification, within the Pathwork, is the eradication of false self-knowledge as reflected not only in our actions, words, and deeds, or even further in our thoughts, but also in the shadowy realm of emotions, where the unconscious often rules.

(This is an interesting choice of a spiritual path for a control freak, isn’t it?)

To the extent we lie to ourselves, we cannot fulfill the tasks that bring us to this world, and we also are unable to captain the ship of our lives.

Purification – first in deed, then thought, then finally emotion – demands a foregoing of vanity and resistance, a willingness to face the darkest aspect of ourselves in the bright light of self-analysis.

So, must us indulge in a Shakespearean pause here, and in the spirit of the lecture, share a difficult self-discovery. I’ve come to be aware that much of the unbalanced feeling I’ve had is indeed of my own doing (surprise, surprise). I have a bit of an addiction (OK, perhaps more than a bit) to spending unnecessarily that contributes to my current sense of financial instability. And truth be told, and I am committed to truth here, like most addictions mine incorporates a relatively pathetic “high” (I like projecting success to others with new clothing, etc.) and a sickly “low” (on some level I realize that this is self-punishing behavior – which perhaps that person the mirror deserves?).

There are many threads to my spending addiction tapestry – this is but one.

But beyond this (did you have a chance yet to say what you wanted to say about me?) – there is surprising spiritual invitation. These are the kinds of profound twists of wisdom that I just love about the Pathwork!

And this spiritual invitation- beyond the life commitment to maintaining the good spiritual hygiene relating to complete self-honesty in action, thought and feeling – is to go beyond simple beseeching in prayer (please God let them not let me go!) to be of service to God (how can I be of service to You today?)

Interesting thought. Must us pause once again. Here I am, quaking in fear, feeling at my littlest in capacity and capability, being a good spiritual soldier and doing my best to remain in Truth with a capital “T,” and the recommendation is to ask God what I can do for Him/Her (?)

(Does God need a Personal Shopper? If so – I’m so there!

As an aside, one of my favorite all time books is ABSENCE of FELICITY, about the experiences of Helen Shucman, one of the authors of a COURSE in MIRACLES. Helen had a close relationship with Jesus Christ, with whom the COURSE material originated, and would often converse with him silently as she went about her life. When Helen would go clothing shopping, Jesus would recommend a particular outfit he liked – and Helen would often refuse to buy it. Thus her hilarious – “absence” of felicity.

So, who’s to say I can’t be of service by offering up my highly refined shopping mall skills?)

The Dark Night of the Soul – that transformative moment when we finally know life has brought us to our figurative if not literal knees, and we turn to a Higher Power for help…but also, offer ourselves as helper to that Higher Power in the same moment?

This has the deep paradoxical and unexpected ring of spiritual truth.

Let’s close on a happy thought. Perhaps that is the reason I am writing this to you, dear reader, right now. This is my Service.

Perhaps this communication is part of a higher Plan, and the revealing of my fears, addiction and struggles can help. At the very least, help others not to feel so very alone when they chastise that person in the mirror.

© 2015 Path Work. All rights reserved.
Powered by WordPress