Here’s the latest from 30 DAYS OF INTENT! Iman and Natalie, accompanied by YouTube star Hannah Hart, visited Laurel Lewis for a lesson in death and dying. Laurel is a registered nurse who specializes in end-of-life care, and she is best known for her “Death and Dying Dinners.” We interviewed Laurel on the importance of contemplating death as a way of living life more fully.
The Chopra Well: Hi, Laurel! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. First off, can contemplating our own death aid in a spiritual journey?
Laurel Lewis: Contemplating one’s own death is a spiritual practice. It can certainly be the focal point of any meditation or journal writing. A Buddhist would say that we should examine it with every breath. That may be much for the beginner. How about we start with twice a day, upon waking and just prior to falling asleep.
The idea is to become more conscious of how you are spending your time, who are spending your precious time with. Is the way you live your life contributing to your overall happiness or depleting you? By contemplating death we learn to identify friends, coworkers, habits, family members, even thoughts that are no longer serving our greatest good, not serving our life’s purpose fully. The spiritual practice of contemplating death somehow gives us permission to live our lives more authentically and to live with more purpose and compassion. When we truly realize that death can come at any time, that nothing but death is guaranteed, we see that our life is so precious. It allows for an incredible feeling of freedom and personal responsibility to live life with beauty, connection, purpose, joy, compassion and gratitude.
CW: You lead Hannah, Natalie, and Iman through a process where they wrote and heard their own eulogies. Have you done this exercise, yourself? What’s it like? What’s the hardest or most interesting thing about it?