For many years Bronnie Ware worked in palliative care. Her patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. She was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. This is her blog post originally posted on her site inspirationandchai.com
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
I spent most of the Christmas and New Year period in a state of deep meditation, processing much of the healing that I had experienced last year. Some of that time brought up pain: physical and emotional fear manifested and cleared quickly. By the second of week of January I needed to get out in the ‘real world’ and spend time being with people who are not part of the ‘healing world’ but give me a great sense of support, friendship and community.
Midwinter Picnic 3, is the annual all day music festival I organise with my husband Chris T-T and a small team of volunteers. West Hill Hall in Brighton is a working village hall, so we can create an intimate atmosphere where people bring their own food and alcohol and we offer homemade cakes and tea. The high quality of the acts means we sell-out far in advance and get lots of positive feedback. However, we always slightly underestimate the amount of work involved in putting on an event that brings together an eclectic mix of acts from around the UK. In the end it was a really wonderful day, plus we raised a good amount for Amnesty International and WaterAid.
The TED conference in the USA is a huge live event where speakers from all disciplines give short talks: ‘Ideas worth sharing’. The TED talks are all filmed and are available online here, where you can search for inspiring, informative talks on just about any subject from world-class experts. One of my favourite talks is this one: ‘A Stroke of Insight’
TEDx is a spin-off idea that anyone anywhere can organise their own event with different speakers, and allow it to be open and free to their community – under the TED guidelines. I was a bit cynical about the first TEDx Brighton event, because the ticketing involved writing about yourself and being ‘handpicked’ to ensure a diverse crowd. I was lucky enough to get a ticket and stayed for the whole day to see all of the speakers.
The most memorable included a young woman who rowed across the Atlantic with her mum, and an actor who visited five utopian communities in a year including Findhorn in Scotland and Christiania in Denmark. A musician explained how clog dancing started in the Victorian cotton mills, where women developed the dance to keep in time with the machines, comparable (to the speaker) with electronic music of the 1980’s such as Kraftwerk.
The most inspiring talk was on human resilience from an academic who adopted three children, all with special needs. The theme of TEDx Brighton was ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ and certainly I came away feeling more connected to my fellow Brightonians and happier for it.
(*Quote from Charles Ives, American composer 1874-1954)
Thank you for your continued support of Brighton Reiki and Oneness in Brighton. Thank you especially if you’ve come for an angel card reading, reiki treatments, a reiki course or an Oneness Awakening course or the deeksha meditation group. I am honoured to have you as a friend and client and I hope to see you again in the New Year.
I would also like to thank all the friends, teachers, healers, guides and leaders for helping me on my spiritual journey this year. These include Mike and Annie Grenville, Andrew Wallas, Jane MacDonald, Isobel Wilkinson and all the Oneness people I have met this year. Thank you so much for helping me on my spiritual journey. Thank you to Sri Bhagavan who I was lucky enough to meet and receive hands on deeksha from during my training in India. Sri Amma’s blessings were also amazing to receive. Thank you to all and I wish you all the very best wishes and lots of love for 2011.
Sri Bhagavan, founder of the Oneness movement, recently gave this advice:
~ Cultivate gratitude for all people who have helped you in this life.
~ Become intensively aware of your craving for significance.
~ If possible, start a conversation with your God, whoever your God is, for about 21 minutes a day.
I received an email about the Winter Solstice on Tuesday 21 Dec and I have reproduced it in full here, with permission from Mike Grenville of the UK Oneness Movement
“It appears that the Solstice on 21st December is a candidate for mayan
calendar ending. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said many years ago that the
Mayans got the date a bit wrong, though it is not known what he said
was the right date. However, in 1968 Maharishi said that “everything
for the Age of Enlightenment will be in place by 2011″ which would
mean by the end of December 2010.
On this date the planets are lined up and points to centre of the
galaxy. The benefics and malefics are both in powerful condition,
however because of their position, the benefics are able to over see
the change and point it in a positive direction.
If this is the end of 26,000 year cycle, where the first 13,000 years
were ruled by the devas and the second by rakshas, we are coming to
the end of that whole period. As a result we could see the malefics
doing their things vigorously in a final act (for example as we are
seeing in Mexico of drug barons wiping each other out).
In Jyotish, Vedic Astrology, the moon equals the mind so an eclipse of
moon is an eclipse of the mind. One might get unusual ideas suddenly
at that time and one can jump to wrong conclusions easily so take
special care in not making big decisions. This indicates that it is
best to be inward at that time, such as meditating.
This will be the first total lunar eclipse to occur on the day of the
Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere; Summer in the Southern)
since 1638 (according to Wikipedia).
Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice at 23:39 UTC
Full ( Oak ) Moon at 08:13
The beginning of the total eclipse will be visible from northern
Europe just before sunrise.
Time to observe for most of time zone: 05:29am – 08:53am (GMT)
Penumbral begins: 5:29
Partial eclipse begins: 6:33
Total eclipse begins: 7:41
Greatest eclipse: 8:17
Total Eclipse ends: 8:53
Partial eclipse ends: 10:01
Penumbral ends: 11:05
See this page for illustrations of the phases
The full Moon, and its total eclipse on this longest night of the year
is timed perfectly to give us all a quiet time when the world sleeps,
and to synchronize countless people’s efforts to harmonize with each
other as this video suggests we do:”
The word “gratitude” (like “surrender” and “forgiveness”) is one of those laden words, that makes the more cynical of us baulk. In some companies I’ve worked for, I rarely heard anyone say “thank you” or “sorry” – it was seen as a sign of weakness: no-one ever wanted to take 100% responsibility for their actions, let alone their feelings. Blame and Guilt are two emotions with the lowest vibrations (Worry also has a very low vibration).
We often talk ourselves out of our successes or won’t even allow ourselves to think they could be successful. We believe that success will never happen to us, or if it does it will be less than good for whatever reason. We deny ourselves possible new houses, happy jobs, lucrative contracts, big bonuses… I know we are trying to protect ourselves from disappointment but somehow despite all of these negative thoughts, success does come to talented people, giving people, people who are willing to give themselves wholeheartedly to their work, without thinking about the end result. A very useful formula is:
Intent + Effort/Action + Divine Intervention = Success/Growth
You’ve got to start somewhere, so allowing yourself to just think about the possibilities…what is your dream job? where do you really want to be living? what would it feel like if someone wrote a brilliant review of your work? We can then extend these positive thoughts and feelings out to the whole world.
Each and every time something good happens in your life, say “Thank you”. Give thanks to whoever or whatever the benevolent force you wish to think about: the universe, the divine, god, angels, spirit guides…luck, destiny, kismet…it all counts. Each time someone offers something to you or pays you a compliment, practice saying “Yes!” and “Thank you!” Accept it fully. You deserve it.
I am testing all of this out this month. I used to write. I used to win writing competitions and get stuff published back in the olden days when printed newspapers and magazines mattered. For various reasons I stopped writing creatively and focused on other things that I felt I was good at. One of my dreams was to one day publish a novel. Publishing any kind of book would be amazing. Having written three reiki manuals for my students is not the same. This year, three friends are getting published. And I am pleased for them, really pleased.
I have no excuse not to start so I’ve signed up to do NaNoWriMo this month. NaNoWriMo is an online event that started a few years ago, to help support people who want to write a novel. The aim is to write every day for the whole of November, upload your word count each day and have the support of a community while you do it. It’s more of an exercise to see if you can actually write a 50,000 word body of fiction. It is about quantity not quality at this stage, but usually people find that after doing it, they are more focused on writing their ‘real’ novel. Their site is often not working because of the sheer numbers of people who want to log their word count!
I am finding it deeply satisfying to write every day, splurge on the page and knowing that I only have to do it this month. By December it will be all over. I ask the Divine to help me every day to write and somehow every day the words come. And every night I say Thank YOU.
Bali is a tropical island with a very strong spiritual energy, which like India accelerates healing processes. Bali is part of Indonesia but retains a strong Buddhist/Hindu tradition. At dawn and dusk every day, offerings are made to outdoor shrines at the entrances of households, to bring prosperity and peace to each family.
After a 3 stop, 18 hour flight, we arrived in paradise. Ubud is a small town made famous by the book and film ‘Eat Pray Love‘. We stayed the modest, yet extremely comfortable Puri Garden Hotel. Over my balcony, lush green rice fields reminded me that this bustling town, with it’s plethora of good quality arts and crafts shops, was still strongly connected to the Earth. I was lucky enough to have the best massage I have ever had- 2 hours of bliss – a 4 hand massage with scrub and wonderful flower bath.
The Shangrila resort is stunning. The grounds exude vibrant, pulsing energy: incredible flowers, huge butterflies and bees are all around the grounds. Twenty of us from the UK, Australia, and the USA, stayed in luxurious beach houses, with massage treatments on offer every day and delicious veggie food. Usually on healing courses, I’ve had basic accommodation and early starts but this retreat was truly nurturing and supportive. We had group sessions to heal past issues with Andrew Wallas – an extraordinary character who always gets to the heart of the problem. We had individual sessions with practical solutions from Brigitte Sumner – a strong, powerful goddess of a woman. I talked to her about finances, business, and self-image.We also had fun, energizing sessions with Dipti Patel – an expert on fitness and self-esteem.
It’s difficult for me to explain exactly what happens on these spiritual retreats. We bond quickly, form alliances, create lasting friendships and also push ourselves to the limits. I cried a lot. I went out into the open ocean in just a tiny fishing boat, hoping to see wild dolphins, and got soaked under a pretty waterfall… I danced, swam, laughed, shaked, prayed and came eye-to-eye with a gecko. Most importantly I discovered that at my core I am: open, spontaneous, creative, fun, playful and I am worth it!
“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships? Are you in right relation?
Where is your water? Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community. Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river. Keep our eyes open and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you. And celebrate!
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word “struggle” from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
The Elders / Oraibi, Arizona / Hopi Nation