Before reading my comments, take three minutes out of your hectic day and practice this guided meditation. (Actually, after 30 seconds you’ll be hooked, or maybe I should say, swiped.)
As you can see, I’m not quite over the theme of death.
So what, exactly, is the advantage of imagining yourself a skeleton on the charnel ground with bits of flesh hanging off the bone? Or, “a person savagely and slowly eaten by a bear”? Or, more humbly, a person facing the hard fact of your own death writ large in the suffering and death of a beloved dog, not to mention friend or spouse.
Thinking about death, whether your own or a loved one’s, concentrates the mind wonderfully. It also concentrates the heart wonderfully. Contrary to what one might imagine, thinking about death may bring more happiness and peace. Try this experiment: Sitting quietly in a relaxed position with your eyes closed, vividly imagine someone dear to you dying and then dead. Imagine how it feels, what differences it makes to your life and the life of others.
My own experience with such meditations is limited, as I confess it’s not the most appealing prospect as a way to spend my free time. That said, I find that it puts my life in perspective, puts ill will and petty grievances toward loved ones in their place, and urges (if not guarantees) feelings of gratitude and loving kindness in their place. It’s as though I’m already nostalgic for all I’d miss if they were gone—having been devoured by “that most ungentle of giants, Ursus Horribilis.”
This gain in perspective is not the only—perhaps not even the main—reason that many spiritual teachers recommend devoting a little time each day to contemplating death. But a practice that reminds me to appreciate my blessings—before they’re dead—has already justified itself.