Meditation has proven benefits. In addition to lowering one’s resting heart rate and blood pressure, it can open the meditator up new, life-altering perspectives.
According to some practitioners, meditation can even be used to counter death anxiety, a phrase used to describe “a conscious or unconscious psychological state resulting from a defense mechanism that can be triggered when people feel threatened by death.”
Tibetan Meditation Student on the Benefits of “Death Meditation”
Lina Bertucci has a lot on her plate: She is a 50-something mother and professional artist. Death anxiety was once something that she suffered from, but since beginning what she refers to as “death meditation,” this problem has faded.
Despite being a 15-year student of Tibetan meditation, death meditation is fairly new for Bertucci. She told The New York Post, “[Death meditation] helps us think about death in a very everyday way and inspires us to live life to the fullest.
“You think, ‘Yeah, I might not make it home from work today.s How do I want to live? How do I want to treat people? How do I want to be treated?
“To say, ‘It’s possible that I may die today,’ wakes up an awareness that helps us become more responsible, loving and fearless people, who aren’t lazy about chasing our pleasures and goals today.”
What Does Death Meditation Entail?
According to Bertucci, death meditation involves the repetition of a phrase related to the practitioner’s impending demise. In her case, she repeats, “I may die today, I may die today, I may die today…”
She accepts the feelings of dread that this statement induces, taking deep breaths as she settles into acceptance.
This is the simplest way to describe the process of death meditation. However, for those who wish to further understand the practice, Manhattan death doula Bryan Melillo regularly hosts hour-long death meditation workshops, which cost $20 per Zoom meeting.
The Denial of Death?
According to late philosopher Ernest Becker, all of the world’s evil is rooted in our inherent death anxiety. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning work The Denial of Death, he states, “The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it…”
Death meditation can be viewed as a means to break the cycle of death denial and accept the fate that plagues us all.