What influences the way we respond to stressors and react to crisis? Identifying and accessing the strengths you have and on which you can build.
There are many issues which may come up or be more intense when you are seriously ill or dying. Along with and sometimes because of this you may experience many emotional changes.
The good news is that there are ways to deal with all that life is throwing at you. You have certain resources and you can take on new ones. It’s also helpful to know that yes, your situation is unique AND many others have travelled a similar path and been through similar feelings. Of those people many have felt that through rising to the challenge of illness they have grown inwardly and even that they have emerged better individuals.
You are not alone: Our website provides practical and psycho-spiritual support for you in response to the many different situations you may be in and the issues and emotions they can evoke. Read below and follow the links that will take you to related sections of the website. In addition, OSHO Sammasati runs workshops around the world focusing on meditation for living and dying and also offers individual sessions in person or by phone/email/skype.
How you meet all the changes that are part of being ill and/or dying will be highly individual and will be influenced by certain factors.
* Your economic circumstances, and the presence or absence of loving, supportive relationships
* Your connection with your health-care providers – your sense that the various personnel are ‘there for you’; that you feel heard and respected…or not.
* Your personality For example, some of us are ‘born fighters’; others tend to collapse in the face of adversity; some of us are optimists where others are pessimists.
* Whatever else is happening in your life at this same time can also affect how well you manage. For example, if your financial situation is rocky or someone very close to you, such as a parent, has just died.
* How well you manage can vary: You might be able to deal with one situation but in another you simply fall to pieces.
* How you responded to past experiences – that is, your personal ‘coping style.’
* The meaning you give to your illness and its impact on you and on your sense of self.
* Having someone to talk to Trying to put your thoughts and feelings into words can seem impossible… and yet it can also be helpful. It can make the enormity of the process a little less overwhelming and also act as a release.
Choose someone who can listen without needing to advise you and with whom you feel trust and acceptance. Sometimes a relative or friend may be that person; at other times it might work better to be able to confide in someone whom you don’t know. Your doctor might be able to recommend a counsellor to you; or if you are connected to a hospice, they will most likely be able to offer you support from a counsellor or hospice volunteer. Maneesha and Sudheer are also available for individual sessions face to face, through email, on Skype or by phone.
* Friends: among those people who love you there will be a proportion who will want to and are able to support you throughout. And there may be others for whom it is just too big an ask. Not that they no longer care about you but your dying may be bringing the whole reality of death too close for comfort.
Even when we love someone – perhaps especially when we love someone – whatever we can offer to them when they are in pain and/ or are very ill feels so inadequate. So: allow those friends who are ready and able to be available, in whatever way they can and you would like. They need to express their love just as much as you may need to feel their love! See also Creating a Support Network.
* Your resources – both outer (for example, as mentioned above, supportive family and friends; or being financially comfortable) – and inner. For example, religion or spirituality; or the attitude you might have developed through life. Maybe you’ve always looked for the learning in whatever happens to you. Perhaps you tend to trust that ‘existence takes care,’ or maybe you conclude that ‘you just can’t win.’
Facing your death is almost certainly the biggest challenge you’ve yet faced in life. Yet there will have been other crises in your life when you did cope. Times of anxiety and uncertainty, times when you felt impotent and overwhelmed. In spite of that, you managed. Certain qualities – maybe ones you weren’t even aware of – helped you then and can help you now.
Revisit those times of challenge and identify what gave you the resilience to deal with the situation and let them come into play now. Maybe it was your feeling sustained by the love of friends, or your trust in life. Perhaps it was your ability to wait; to be with uncertainty or maybe it was being able to see a bigger picture, to find meaning in what seemed like adversity…even to find the funny side to it.
Other inner resources include…
Thinking – the ability to analyse, ask questions and make decisions. It’s when our thoughts become obsessive, when we’re stuck in a mind that goes round in circles, when we become identified with and taken over by our thoughts that thinking is problematic.
Meditation. The many meditation techniques that we feature on this site can support you in specific ways and the state of meditation generally. They are not designed to ‘get rid’ of feelings but to assist you, if you are stuck, in moving through them.
Some techniques help you consciously express your feelings; others to be able to just ‘be with’ them; some act as a reminder that you are not your emotions; others enable you to go consciously into and become your feeling. Still others support you in just noticing inwardly all passing feelings without becoming entangled in them or identified with them.
Certain methods might work better for you than others, or some work better at certain time or particular circumstances. It’s a good idea to experiment with them all until they become very familiar to you. See Meditation for Pain Management, Meditation methods in illness and Meditation methods in dying.
In addition to specific methods, the process we enter in a passive form of meditation is very similar to that of dying. By becoming familiar, through regular meditation, with the many aspects which meditation and dying have in common, we can lessen our fear of death. See Meditation as a Window into Dying.
Managing Emotions with Meditation introduces you to the various categories of techniques you can practise to help you be with whatever you are feeling. Following each category are links to the relevant methods.
Resilience has been defined as ‘the human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened by experiences of adversity’ or alternatively ‘the life force that flows and connects every living thing, continually prompting regeneration and renewal.’ See Resilience and Meditation and Resilience.
A sense of humour
Humour can provide a new perspective and laughing changes our emotional state. Its many other great benefits are well-documented. Norman Cousins notes in his Anatomy of an illness that comedies, like those of the Marx Brothers, helped him feel better and get some pain-free sleep.  See The Laughter Connection.
Sources and Recommended Reading
1) Anatomy of an Illness: as perceived by the patient Norman Cousins (WW Norton & Company)
Close to the Bone: life-threatening illness as a soul journey Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. (Conari Press)
I don’t know what to say: how to help and support someone who is dying Dr R. Buckman (Papermac)
The Art of Living & Dying Osho (Watkins)
Meditation: The First and Last Freedom Osho (Rebel Press)
What Dying People Want: practical wisdom for the end of life David Kuhl, M.D.(Public Affairs Publication)
When I Die: lessons from the death zone Philip Gould (Little, Brown)