You are on page 1of 3

Yogic Living, Conscious Dying

Swami Samnyasanand, 2008

Many people think of yoga as a form of exercise and perhaps


sometimes relaxation, however the word "Yoga" means "to join".
Yoga is a verb, a doing word and yoga is a process of joining. When
we join that which is meant to be joined, i.e. mind, body and soul
or spirit with consciousness, or Atman with Param Atman, we get
Samadhi or perfect Non-Separateness, Adwaita, or non-duality. Yoga
is the process and Samadhi is the aim or goal. Samadhi in this context
is the merging of one's self with the greater cosmic-consciousness
and doesn't necessarily mean actual bodily death, more death of
normal ordinary awareness. Samadhi also literally means "death" and
can mean death of the mortal body. This death can however be
either temporary or permanent. Brain Death, for example, is defined
as the irreversible cessation of all functions within the brain stem,
ceasing essential control of all bodily functions especially such things
as basic consciousness, respiration, homeostasis and maintaining
blood pressure (www.bioscience-bioethics.org/b.htm ).
Yogis must learn how to live in order to know how to die. The yogic way of living involves developing
and raising one's awareness and expanding consciousness
through living a yogic lifestyle, whereby life is lived in fullness,
connected to the natural rhythms of light and dark, summer and
winter, sleep and wake cycles, as well as rich inner and outer
exploration of who we are. A yogic life is a conscious life and a
conscious preparation for a conscious death. By learning to
expand our awareness beyond the limits of daily experience and
by pondering the mysteries of life, we can begin to explore the
connectedness in life.
According to certain yogis, at the time of death, pranic energy is
withdrawn from the body and focussed at the top of the head
where the atman (soul) is carried through the anterior fontanel,
the 'soft spot' on a baby's skull, also known as the crown or
Sahasrara chakra. The person exhales and the soul is released.
There is no more inhalation and stillness follows
(www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/yb.nsf/p/DeathAndDying). Life is all
about breath, life is breath and breath is life, but breath is also part of death. We inspire, take in a
breath, become inspired and full of ideas, creativity, life itself. To expire is to exhale, to let go, both of
breath and of life.
Life itself is a complex rhythm and dance of opposites expressed through both inspiration and
expiration, light and dark, birth and death. The very stars themselves are born in a massive super nova,
live for millions of years giving life and energy to planets and whole solar systems and then contract to a
red dwarf before collapsing into a black hole, where not even light can escape. This is the life of a star,
just like Surya our Sun that gives life to everything on Earth. This cosmic dance is also mirrored in the
short lived experiences of birth, life and death of all life on Earth. To have no fear of death, we need to
meditatively practice dying, (Yogi Bhajan on Death & Dying, September 4th, 1993, at the World
Parliament of Religions).

I am but a ripple of awareness


Riding on a wave of consciousness
That circles this planet as a sea of souls

Atmanah Sagar

There are no separate bubbles


We're just one of many ripples
In this wave upon the ocean of true bliss
We come for just a short time
To live and love and grow
The leave it up to others to carry on
It is our culture that we learn from
And to which we add our truths
The sea from whence we come from and return
We need to help each other
Raise awareness of our journey
To sing the song of freedom for all souls
It is life itself that moves us
On our journey ever onward
We're all in this together, evermore
Sw Samnyasanand (1996)
Inhaling we take in life itself, oxygen, prana, energy. Exhaling, we let go of carbon dioxide, water vapour,
heat etc... releasing tensions and attachments. Inhaling, we become aware of the many thoughts, then
release these thoughts with each exhalation. Death without fear requires awareness of life. Many
people fear death because of the unknown and because they have not practiced detachment and letting
go throughout life. The process of dying is one of going from the known to the unknown, from light to
dark and through to the light again.
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya (from the unreal lead me to the real),
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya (from the darkness lead me to the
light), Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya (from death lead me to
immortality). Cultivating greater mindfulness in life through
mantras, ritual and meditation means we are more likely to face
death more peacefully. We are more likely to be able to let go and
go with the flow of life and death. But there is more to death than
just letting go. Prana Vidya is where one stimulates and
concentrates prana then either withdraws the prana from certain
parts of the body and/or projects it to certain other parts or even
to other people for local or distant healing. Controlling prana is an
important precursor to having a conscious, controlled death
transition. There are certain Kriya Yoga techniques that prepare
one's consciousness and awareness to be able to control prana
sufficiently to leave the body with awareness and control, even to
the extent of being able to do this whilst still alive and then return
to the living body left temporarily lifeless for the duration of the
practice of Samadhi. Pilot Baba (see www.pilotbaba.org )
practices and teaches these Samadhi Yoga techniques.

There are also techniques in Laya Yoga, the process of complete and utter dissolution of consciousness
and absorption with "Shunya" the void, emptiness, space itself, pure vibration. The entire universe is like
a symphony, "uni verse" means "one song" and to become a part of that great symphony at a purely
vibration level means to let go of the gross vibration in this worldly life of corporeality and become one
with the finer vibration of the cosmic realm.
Meditation is the process of consciousness looking inwards and
experiencing itself as pure vibration. That individual vibration is also
part of the great, universal vibration, the great song of the universe.
To know one's self is to know truth and to know life. Professional
training in meditation, especially within a medical context, where
the individual patient's psychology and physiology can vary is very
important, particularly in respect to death and dying, which can be
encountered daily in professional medical contexts such as hospitals
and in palliative care. In this context, many people will benefit from
the relaxation and detachment that comes from the simpler forms
of meditation, while the true yogi who has practiced the deeper
aspects of meditation and learned to leave the body at will to return
again and speak of that experience in this life will have no problem
in letting go, having a peaceful and powerful transition. Hari Om Tat Sat

Stand Tall
Stand Tall as the body falls,
Old and bent and twisted.
Take firm in hand the knowledge youve gained,
From all the years youve visited.
Scenes will fade from the life just lived,
As they flash by your mind.
Let them go as you leave all else,
leave it all behind.
Take your Self, your very Self,
your heart your soul, your might.
And take Gods hand as you walk with him,
As you walk into the night.

Sw Samnyasanand (1985)

Philip Stevens (Swami Samnyasanand) BSc (Psych, Physiol) BSc (hons) (Physiol) MWSCY FWSCY
Box 6088, Cromer Victoria 3193 Tel: 03 9589 2108 e-mail: research@yogalinks.net Web: www.yogalinks.net
Sw Samnyasanand is a Consultant Neurophysiologist holding Science degrees in Psychology and Physiology, with a research based Honours degree in
Physiology, completed at The Centre For Sleep Research at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in South Australia. He explores the effects of Meditation and
Relaxation practices on the heart, brain and autonomic nervous system and runs seminars, retreats etc around Australia and overseas on various aspects of
Health and Well-Being. A Certified Yoga Teacher, Life Member and Fellow of the "World Society For Clinical Yoga" (Lucknow, India) with over 30 years of
experience in classes, personal tuition & clinical counselling in Yoga, Meditation, Relaxation and Stress Management (M.B.T.I. Accredited). He is currently
teaching and tutoring at Monash Medical School (Dept of General Practice) and the Alfred Hospital while completing PhD research exploring the
neurophysiological and neurohormonal effects of certain meditation techniques, pranayamas, and yoga breathing techniques for less stress and better sleep
with industry support from Compumedics Australia.