As usual, I’ll start with a recap of how last month went and then talk about what the LIFE Project challenge looks like for November.

Results of the Tranquility Mandala Drawing

I used the website, Random.org as a third-party service. I entered the names (not email!) of everyone who is subscribed on my email list (not on WordPress). If I knew this information beforehand, I took out a few of you that I know live in other countries, as well as a few other friends and family that wouldn’t otherwise be eligible.

I set it to select 3 winners just in case someone lived in another country (remember, shipping and customs charges prevented me from making this an international giveaway) or in case someone didn’t want or need to claim the mandala painting.

In the name of transparency, if you want to see if you were entered into the contest, just put in your first name (or first and last name, depending on how you registered originally on the site) and you can see if you were entered and if you won (though I included the winners below).

If your name was entered, you can check for yourself here:

(If, for some reason, the widget doesn’t come up for you, go here to see the drawing on random.org)

This information is not public and is highly secure, by the way.

The three winners were…

Drumroll, please…

  1. Maria (from the UK)
  2. Kit (in the US)
  3. Annie (in the US)

Maria, alas, since you are in the UK, I need to move on to the second place winner. So, I will first contact Kit to see if she would like to claim the mandala painting, and if not, we’ll try Annie. Congrats to you!

mixed media

Results of October LIFE Project

Giving and Community-Building

As evidenced above, I intended for October to be a month of giving and community-building.

I completed the 10-journal giveaway on Amazon and those folks should have already received their journals. YAY!

Next was the art giveaway, and congrats to the winner of the Tranquility painting. There will also be more opportunities to win mandala artwork…just keep an eye out. 🙂

I also had guests three times over to my house.

Let me start by saying that I’m an introvert and I generally don’t have many people over. It’s not because people aren’t welcome – they absolutely are – but I usually get so engrossed in creativity and spirituality when I’m at home, it’s like my house is an otherworldly sanctuary.

In the two years I’ve lived at this house, we’ve had people over, but only a handful of times for a meal or  to sit on the porch and philosophize.

I also sent out birthday cards to friends and family that I hadn’t heard from in a long time, as well as gave away some coloring books and more journals.

I visited some old friends and former colleagues on two different occasions.

death meditation

Walking

I got 10K steps every day except for four days:

  1. Day 1: I worked out in the garden for hours so this replaces the steps.
  2. Day 2: I worked a 13-hour day and did a lot of running around and standing; I make the executive decision to say that this day counts.
  3. Day 3: I just needed some rest (this counts as another portion of a LIFE day).
  4. Day 4: I was making my DIY Halloween Costume and did a lot of running around, but I did not get the full 10K steps. I count this as another portion of a LIFE day.

Again, as you look at the graph, my smart watch has a glitch: it never counts my steps on the first day of the month. I definitely got 10K steps that day, but, for whatever reason, they don’t show up. Ah, the acceptance of technology also means that you have to accept its glitches….

life project steps

It’s fun looking at the “accumulated” numbers of the month: a walking distance of 124 miles. I’ve looked at the “year to date” distance, too, but I want to keep that a secret until the end of the project. Let me put it this way: I predict the distance I will have walked after a year will be the equivalent of walking from New York to Denver, CO.

Total LIFE days used so far:

Three complete LIFE days. Remember, I must complete meditation, 10K steps, affirmations, mantras, and journaling each day. Since these are five different requirements, if I miss one thing, then I’ve missed 1/5th of a LIFE day.

As a side note: if I miss a day of journaling (which is 250 words), I do allow myself to make it up the next day (by writing 500 words), but I can’t make up a meditation on a different day – the time and practice doesn’t lend itself to it.

For accountability purposes, you can see all my accumulated LIFE days:

accumulated LIFE days

Meditation

I meditated for 60 minutes each day (or otherwise spent this time in silence). As you look at the graph, it shows one day where I forgot to set my meditation timer, but still meditated. But I generally feel like I cannot go even a day without meditating.

meditation tracker

Volunteering

Though it’s through school, I’ve started volunteering on a committee called “Love in Action.” It’s new, but it involves helping provide rides, meals, and other services in our school community who might need it.

My current task through this committee is to research grants and community connections that might provide some insights as to helping folks sustainably.

Journaling

I’ve journaled each day for the past six months. Incredibly, I have accumulated an incredible amount of words: 93,699 as of this writing. I will have a lot to sift through before I ever publish that journal. 🙂

accumulated journal words

Reading

I also completed reading Conversations with God: Book 2. There are some great lines and bits of advice in there. I’d have to say all in all, the book meshes with many principles of personal development.

While I like the book, there are times when it gets “Jesus-heavy.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I often wondered why God would include so much about this one prophet and not others, but well…I didn’t write that book, so….

Some of the dialogues were striking – things about Hitler, other worlds, and enlightened civilizations. Those conversations delve into human sexuality, and the power of women – the feminine. The themes are dynamic and engaging and overall I enjoyed the read.

It’s time to take a break from this series to tackle some new books for November.

Reflection

I realize that up until now, I haven’t really written a reflection of the months I’ve completed the project. Granted, it’s all in the Intention Journal – all the thoughts, feelings, emotions, challenges and triumphs related to the project.

October was a good month for expanding my horizons in my family and community. Reaching out to others lets them know you care and cultivating relationships is incredibly important. Even for introverts.

I admit, things haven’t always been rosy: doing a project like this – on my own – I sometimes encounter motivational issues to keep going. It’s a lot. Sometimes I don’t necessarily want to sit in silence for an hour when I’m particularly tired and have many things to do later in the day.

This is when I realize just how important it is to maintain my practice.

I’m seven months into this project with five more to go. I intend to complete it and I pay little attention to the “not wanting to do something” because I know by focusing on such things, I create more discomfort in my life.

This project has taught me that. It’s taught me so much about intending to live the life I want to live. Worrying less. Living more fully and not being so hard on myself when I fall short of my own intentions. I just try again next time.

I’m uncovering what’s most important in my life and I can tell you, unequivocally, that other than spending time with family, when I’m doing work that helps others, I feel fulfilled. I’m learning (and accepting) that I need to do this in my own way.

When I catch myself comparing my life to another’s, I remember that we all have our reasons for walking this earth. We all have a purpose and it stems from how we can help the world using our gifts. I’m learning that my service to the world is through my spirituality and creativity.

When I see other amazing humans start non-profits that change the lives of many, or when I see humans become advocates for just causes, I’m at once awed and occasionally feel like I come up short. It’s a normal human response, but how we react afterwards is what matters.

It is In those moments that I resolve to be the best human I can be, and to try to use my gifts to make positive contributions to the world.

The November LIFE Project

Why Death Meditation?

In many cultures, November begins with remembering loved ones who have passed on.

Because I grew up in a nursing home (my parents converted our house into an assisted living facility), I have seen death up close and personal. This time of year, I think about my loved ones, friends and acquaintances who are no longer walking the earth.

In fact, I once wrote a college essay on the effects I experienced after one of the patients in the nursing home died in my arms when I was 15 years old.

For over two years, I had helped care for this elderly woman. We had nicknamed her Sunshine. I helped my parents to watch her, to look in on her, to feed her, even to bathe her.

Pretty heavy stuff for a 15 year old, I know. When I watched this human take her last breath, her last word was her calling out her daughter’s name.

death meditation

I will never forget that: the utterance of a child’s name upon your lips as you lay dying speaks volumes about what’s really important in this life….

The ambulance was on its way, but Sunshine had already moved on by the time they got there.

I sat with her lifeless body after the paramedics left, but before the coroner arrived. I smoothed her hair and made sure she was comfortable, as if she’d just been lying down for a nap.

These experiences gave me a view that death was something that didn’t perhaps seem as bad as we – the living – made it out to be.

Let me explain: over the years, I’ve seen quite a few people leave their bodies and move on to another realm. Yes, there is a sense of intense finality. But there’s also a sense of profound, silent peace.

Since leaving my parents’ home after college, I realized that not being around people at the end of their lives left me feeling a little less close, or connected to it. Certainly because I was so young, I never really contemplated my own end, either.

Back then, I still thought of it as something that happened to others. It is a fate which we all must meet.

Since it is such an unknown, any living thing naturally has the instinct to survive. It’s natural to fear death.

Since I do a lot of meditation, I found out that there is a “death and dying” meditation practice in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition.

Since discovering that, I’ve been curious to try it for several reasons: to challenge my ideas about it, to face my fears, to regard death in a healthier way than in which my own culture does, to fully embrace my aliveness by imagining I’m not alive anymore….

The idea is that it’s supposed to help you live a more full and present life, knowing that our human lifespan is really incredibly short – especially when you consider the eons and the billions of years that have passed since the earth first began to form in the cosmos.

I am always challenging myself to live with intention - to accept myself as I am. Click To Tweet

I know meditating on death might seem morbid, but I look at this whole idea with intrigue. I happen to think that because we beings are comprised of energy, this energy is transferred somehow into another form at the end of our lives.

As I read Conversations with God last month, there was a part in the dialogue in which the author discusses how when we die, we actually experience the greatest love we’ve ever known.

Folks who have had near death experiences often say they experienced overwhelming love and peace.

A Guided Death Meditation

I have found a guided meditation on YouTube (and it’s available in audio form on iTunes) that has you imagining your own corpse…at first (this would be the ‘graphic content’ part that you see in the warning on the video).

But then, it goes into more grandiose and esoteric things such as imagining your energy dispersed throughout the universe as you look out and see everything.

You essentially look at death in the eye and expand out from yourself.

I know that many of the decisions I make (and to be sure, most people) come out of fear or out of love. Let me say that again: the decisions we make come down to fear or love.

Sure. It takes on different forms and often there are layers you might have to peel back to understand why everything comes down to those two emotions.

What if we learn to transcend those fears? And truly embrace love?

I’m not saying I don’t fear death, because I do on some levels – I know this through the other fears I experience in my life – but I absolutely enjoy being alive and want to live as long and as vibrantly as I can.

But what would it look like to work on those fears? To look at death in a more healthy way that helps me to potentially lead a fuller life?

Furthermore, I feel like Western culture tries to “avoid death.” What happens if we learn to embrace it?

I have to admit, I’m sort of wondering if this might make me trip out mentally (haha, not really), but I’m going for it. I officially started this on 5 November – a little later than the beginning of the month due to the events and celebrations of the first week of November (and end of October).

I’m going to try to listen to this guided meditation for 30 days. However, sometimes I find that as I “get into” something, I realize it’s not quite what I want or need…especially when it comes to using technology in meditation.

If I feel like it’s not working, I also found a great resource for death meditation in a PDF format. It’s a Nine Point Meditation on Death and Rebirth which I’ll try as a backup.

So far, however, I’m finding the guided meditation to be pretty profound – a little scary in terms of confronting your own end and imagining it – but also powerfully relaxing as the meditation goes on.

I can’t wait to reflect back on this month and see what happens.

Gratitude and Reading The Magic

It can’t be coincidence that with the start of November talking about death, it culminates with a holiday (at least in the US) of gratitude.

I really think that meditating on death is going to help me be ever-more appreciative of my life. I feel like there will be a profound sense of gratitude that grows over the month.

To help in that regard, I’m reading the book called, The Magic. It’s a book full of exercises on making gratitude a significant part of your life. I’ve read it before, but I didn’t do every single exercise or treat it as a 28-day (in this case with the book) challenge.

For this month, I’ll focus on gratitude – at least in the majority of my journal entries because I will be following the exercises laid out in the book. I know I’ll also talk about my experiences with death meditation, as well.

Other Project Intentions

As usual, I will continue with not only the meditation I outlined above, but the usual 10K steps, affirmations, journal writing and mantras I embarked upon at the outset of this project.

I had intended, when I was planning this project, to publish a coloring book this month. I will say that that won’t happen, but I have something else I’m working on: a haiku book. Originally I wanted to include coloring pages, but as this project evolves, I think I might compile all the photos and images of the haikus I’ve created the last six months into a downloadable PDF here on the site.

I’m really feeling the itch to work on a novel and flash fiction and spent a chunk of the weekend before mind mapping.

All in all, with a few exceptions, I’m still very much on track with this project.

 

 

 

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