February 12, 2014
There is nothing more certain than your death. However, in this time that you are alive, the true certainty is that you are living. While you are still here, you need a death plan. I don’t mean anything that has to do with the material and financial, I mean a spiritual death plan. Although your death is certain, and planning is helpful, it is the antithesis of being present in the now. By planning your experience of death on the inside, alone with yourself now just the way you will have to face death, you can happily leave this living world without loose ends and hoping for more of the life you still wish you had left. This death plan is one that is pointless to try to share with anyone because it is not relatable to anyone else’s unique life and death experience. However, we can all go out content with smiles on our faces if we have a healthy death plan, and this is part of the inclusive experience of yoga, if not one of its crowning characteristics.
I admit, I may be a unique situation. After I explain myself, I may also be nothing special. To put it bluntly, I should already be dead. I could have died many different ways in my short life thus far. Luckily for me, by the age of 23 I understood and accepted death as a very real possibility and felt my mortality way before I hit 30. My most debilitating experience was when I was in the prime of my youth, full of energy and enthusiasm, yet for months steadily began feeling like I had no will to engage in physical activity, woke up not tired but weak, and I felt most of the bones in my body aching as if the marrow itself hurt, but not any of my joints. Due to testing difficulty at the time, no blood tests came back positive for the possible culprit, Lyme infection. I had to go on for weeks longer hoping this would just come to pass because I was young and healthy and strong, but I felt like the world itself was passing me by and just walking was a chore, to say the least. Eventually another test came back with more positive results and I was lucky enough to have standard doxycycline capsules bring me back to the world of the living within three or four days of a two week cycle. It was so bad that I still felt incredibly weird and not normal, but I could tell there was a change, a spark of a tiny hint of a flame that was previously out cold. Nobody could look at me and tell what I was experiencing in my body, the pains I would endure and have to put on an act to fit in with the normal and healthy world of which I used to be a contributing member. I’d say it took me about seven years before I was no longer regularly reminded of the infection through varied unexplainable pains. When I was most ill, a few months into it, I would play a game with myself just to cope with the discomfort, counting how many seconds would go by before I felt another sharp pain anywhere on my body that would stop my mind in its tracks. I would only get as far as counting to four usually, sometimes less.
For some reason, the standard antibiotics worked for me but others are not so lucky. Since I’ve been infected almost twenty years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the bacteria. The Lyme bacteria is a spirochete that burrows into all living tissue, forming what feels like a neural network of whole-body microscopic torture, and it could be different for everyone because of the variables. I could have suddenly died of heart failure or brain damage. My blood tests to this day show antibodies for Lyme, and with an illness whose victims can be treated like they need psychiatric evaluation because doctors don’t believe they are ill at all, confirmation is a good place to start.
I didn’t even know what yoga was at that time, but that small brush with a downward spiral into oblivion helps me to connect with my spiritual death plan during meditation. I know that I can own my death, be in command of my powerful exit from this body, free and strong in a way I could only imagine now while being alive, where my freedom and strength are clearly defined and limited. By drawing upon death, I can aim for a more accomplished life. I’ve seen people on their death beds whining, squirming, and sobbing for more life, admitting where they messed up and could have had ten more glorious years of health, reluctantly facing death with regret in this life. This won’t be me, because I should already be dead.
If you haven’t already, for information and personal stories from people infected with Lyme, go to underourskin.com, or see the documentary Under Our Skin.