Back in late 2018 I wrote a series of articles on Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. It seemed rather appropriate to do an update given the increased attention on life and death during these past two years. I would guess that almost every man and woman, and even many children, contemplated their mortality in light of the intense media devotion to the pandemic. Might I call it an obsession? But on the upside bringing the reality of death into our personal and collective consciousness is a very good thing.
Conscious Living has as its foundation the key to happiness, which is a present-centered awareness. Living each day to the fullest, manifesting our highest creative expression, is the secret of a happy life. Often those who are living unconsciously become lost in the past or in the future. Nostalgia for the past and anxiety for the future are both blocks to the full enjoyment of each day. As we become more conscious of our imminent death we are likely to confront these demons and make the vital decision to connect more with those we love and the activities that we enjoy the most.
Those of us who are expats and tercero edad (elders) are likely to have made some important decisions during this time of Covid. If death is more present in my reality where do I choose to die? Many expats from North America have chosen to return to the USA or Canada to be closer to children and grandchildren. I have talked with several friends who were contemplating moving to Ecuador before the pandemic began, but have since changed their plans, wanting to stay close to home. It appears that tribal and egoic concerns and pressures will often override a deeper soul yearning for a happy life.
But the certain tragedy that evolved for those who became seriously ill and needed hospitalization was that they were totally isolated. Conditions precluded family or friends from visiting them in the hospital. Many never left the hospital, dying totally alone. I cannot imagine a more horrible end of life experience. I encourage those with ears to hear that alternatives do exist.
Luckily for those of us who have chosen Ecuador as our residence dying at home, surrounded by family, is the cultural norm. It is very easy, if you have your end of life paperwork in order, to be allowed to do just that. For those expats without extensive family here in Ecuador our Conscious Living Community offers a similar atmosphere as an Ecuadorian family. There are facilitators in Cuenca who can assist you in getting your end of life paperwork in order, truly reflecting the way in which you choose to die, not simply what you wish for settling your legal and financial affairs.
Most of us have lived our lives balancing tribal obligations, our personal egoic desires, and a spiritual longing for peace, harmony and happiness. As we enter the last chapter of this precious life it behooves us to become more the true author of this story. How can we claim the true authority that our soul commands? Are we courageous enough to make end of life choices that might not align with the opinions of family or friends, or perhaps not even fit neatly within the confines of the “laws” of church or government? Conscious Dying is not a popularity contest. In the end you must come to terms with the deepest essence of your heart and your soul. Whatever compromises you have made in your life can be brought into balance via a few key principles of Conscious Living.
Forgiveness is a multi-layered process. We begin our life in a state of little power. As a child authority is represented by the adults around us in our family, and later in institutions such as school, church and government. Often we experience certain levels of abuse by these authorities and later in life we deal with this sense of victimization via forgiveness. Possibly we heal our wounds to the point where we can find gratitude for the very things that hurt us, as they often bring us to deeper levels of personal power and happiness.
Conscious Living will guarantee that we no longer feel a victim of the world in any way. And Conscious Dying is the celebration of a life well lived. Our greatest gift that we can give to ourselves and to our world is to exit without grievance, with nothing but gratitude.
Louis Bourgeois lives outside of Cuenca with his wife and baby. He teaches courses in Conscious Living and Conscious Dying and is currently developing the Oasis, an eco-resort. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org