Pain Management and Self-Care in Care of the Dying
Living with the Inescapable
Osho's Vision on Living & Dying
The Sammasati Support-Person Training
From participants in the 2013 An Experiential Enquiry into Death
I would very much recommend this workshop for anyone who would like to explore their thoughts and feelings about the most relevant and taboo subject of all, in a safe and loving group context. The workshop introduces many wonderful meditation techniques and practices which enable participants to go deeply into this subject in a very personal and powerful way. I loved the periods of silence, and also the dancing and celebration of life.
I gained a very ‘visceral’ knowing that I am not my body (if this is possible!). It is hard to describe but there was a sense of myself as awareness. There was also a softening and opening around fears of death/the unknown and a deep compassion for my own and others’ attempts to find happiness in life experiences.
In my work in a hospice I feel more sensitive to how being in the hospice environment might impact on a patient’s feeling of control over their lives, and the need to respect their fluctuating needs for independence and assistance. I also have more empathy with people who are frail and unable to take care of themselves and are struggling with this. There is now a greater understanding of and ability to open up to my own and other people’s fears and feelings about death. I feel more able to initiate conversations about death and dying with friends, colleagues and patients.
I am less afraid of death being with me each day, as a tangible reality which has mystery and also intrigue. I’m more interested and curious about it. There’s an understanding that really knowing myself as awareness offers freedom from much of the suffering of life and fears around death. I feel deep compassion for friends and patients who are struggling with fear and anxiety about death, and have a wish to be able to comfort them and feel more open and available to patients who are dying. I am also less afraid of the grief I might experience when caring for them; using the heart-centred breathing has been very helpful with this.
After the workshop I felt a renewed joy at being alive. Life feels more precious, and it feels less important that things go my way. I have a sense of welcoming all experiences and feeling more connected to the ‘witness,’ that watching aspect within me. (Maggie Armour, UK, Hospice Nurse)
I have to bow down to The Sammasati Project and its facilitators. The workshop brought up so many realizations in me, surprises all the way through, which culminated in the understandings that there is no death and that I am ready to leave at any time. Now I carry all my beloveds in my heart so that I can feel them in every breath of my life, can feel this non-separation, and ‘use’ them as a door to open my love to the whole humanity. I feel a more loving involvement with everything and, at same time, there is no entanglement. There is the freedom and liberation.
Just as you can dilute apple juice and take 70 years to drink it, or you can drink the densest juice in one gulp – the workshop is just like this. When you squeeze your whole life into four days you encounter the juiciness of life itself… and life is wisdom. Did I touch death or life? There is light and love, beauty and joy.
I know that everything is available in this very moment throughout the whole universe. I am so grateful that I am a human being so that I can exercise my own choice, to choose what I want to be. (Limin Han, UK/China, Statistician/Mathematician)
This is actually a workshop that teaches you not only how to die consciously but also how to live totally and consciously I know that that this experience will affect the way I live from now on inasmuch as I will not postpone anything for the future, but keep the remembrance that life is here now. Thank you, beloved Maneesha and Sudheer, for sharing. It is a gift!
The workshop was a very profound experience, bringing me back to the essential in me, my original face. I am carrying this fragrance and remembrance with me – even more than before, nourished and stronger and deeper in me. (Sindhu Arora, UK/India, Meditation Facilitator & Healing Therapist)
It's great that you are bringing this work to a wide and diverse audience. I feel very privileged to have been a participant. I can feel that there has been a real shift in me and that I am already living my life differently now.
It is interesting to me how the process is unfolding and how the breakthroughs I made are beginning to ripple through my life in many new and interesting ways. Somehow I was living in fear, lacking the honesty to really ask life what I wanted and the courage to let go of the things that were no longer serving me. I am re-discovering a greater sense of resolve to really 'milk' every moment for all the joy it can bring to myself and others. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this unique experience. (Andrew Bradford, UK, GP (doctor) & Rehabilitation Physician)
I experienced a lot of intensive, penetrating stuff in the first module of The Sammasati Support-Person Training last month, but it is not just about ‘feeling good’, ‘intensive emotion’ ,’ insight’, ‘bliss’ or a ‘sense of expansion,' etc. Yes, they are so beautiful, but those experiences come and go. The most important thing for me is that, in this workshop, I got the taste of ‘the changeless,’ the witness, the vast sky holding everything, holding this such-ness…. The structure Maneesha and Sudheer facilitate really helps to make meditation and breaking through easier and I feel immensely grateful ….
Death is like a mirror that reflects honestly what really works and what doesn't. The intellectual ideas (especially the ‘spiritual’ stuff) – no matter how beautiful they are, if they are not really experiential, if they are not embodied, won't be much help and can even be harmful. I have seen many people on their death bed, seen the suffering and all kinds of defence mechanisms of avoidance. And yes, I have those mechanisms too. Some of them are so subtle that they really need a lot of awareness and clarity to work through. I am so happy that I have this training to support me. The whole process is so transformative, so organic and so powerful. I feel so alive, so joyful, so full of wonder and enjoying the peace of mind at the same time. And so much more is still cooking. (Anusha; Taiwan; Doctor)
A truly exquisite experience, beautifully choreographed from beginning to end, to give maximum benefit for living and dying. We were held and cared for so tenderly, allowing us to explore right to our limits and beyond.
The dying process is a time of heightened awareness, which enabled all the exercises and meditations to be highly potent in their transformative capacity.
This is a really important workshop for anyone on the spiritual path and highly effective as a tool for transformation. This workshop is as much about living more fully as it is about dying more fully! What a gift. (Gwen Atwood, UK, Midwife)
This workshop was a profoundly moving and transformative
experience, which I feel will help me to live and honour myself more
fully, joyfully and gratefully. I feel less fear and loss; and more
confidence and courage to make the most of what I have.
Thank you for all your inspiration, care and work in
creating such an amazing experience. (Janine McKerron, UK,
Every day was so full; every session, every exercise was so rich for me, and so much happened inside provoking insights in an exciting way. Maneesha and Sudheer were sensitively supporting, guiding and caring for us and seeing each one as an individual. Now out of the workshop and being back in my usual surroundings I realize even more how nourished and enriched I feel, how much my inner thirst was quenched.
Thanks a million times: thanks!
This training was run for the first time from March to November 2012 in the UK
Participants from the initial Experiential Enquiry module share their experiences below
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See below for video testimonials at the end of the training.
Below are comments from some of the participants from the first module - the Experiential Enquiry.
"In a way the [first module
of the Sammasati Support-Person] training has been an exercise in sobering me,
in grounding me more, in bringing my understanding closer to basics facts in
life about this body, this life, this human nature. While I would have thought
that abandoning so many old dreams, fantasies and beliefs would create a sort
of desperation and vacuum, interestingly enough, this process has not made me
sad. Quite the opposite; in practical terms in my daily life it is making me
bolder in that I am asking for what I want/need, very well knowing that this is
the time (and no other in a future to come), that there might not be other
chances, that there is no space for stupid fears or polite limitations. I ask
more, I care less, I move faster or more decisively.
"I think this training is
coming to my life in the right moment. Many other processes converge in this
moment. It seems the time is ripe for this training to create a big
breakthrough for me and in my understanding of life. This workshop has switched
on a light in my awareness. I cannot see things as before. I am more conscious
that everything has a beginning and an end, for instance.
"A window has been opened
where I can be more real. I no longer need to close my eyes to my imperfections
in order to defend myself, and at the same time to pretend I am special. I can
be me. There is a new acceptance of the little me. A new wave of health is
coming up in my psyche. I am a human being. I am vulnerable. I am finite. And
despite all that, I still can be. Life happens. I am myself. I, as a human
being granted with awareness, am also a miracle. Things can be fascinating
without needing to be anything in particular. I do not need to be special. I
can be human, simple, weak, vulnerable, and still worthy. " (Priya Alvarez, Spain)
My whole life style and priorities have changed much in the last year
and further since our group. Living a life where each moment I am preparing for
my own death is very different from living with the focus on being right,
getting a date, making money, avoiding pain, etc. Long story short, I sit
quietly for many hours a day with a level of peace I have never known before. I
move when I am ready, and before long, look forward to sitting again. I have
found a child-like interest in my sitting, a vitality unknown to me in the
'I have done many groups and courses in
my life; this was the best ever. I had a sense of waking up, of greater
connection with my body, and seeing life as a dream. There was such
loving energy throughout, in the workshop, and for me personally a great
amount of learning, and golden keys to work on myself in my everyday
living'. (Cristina Grassl, Italy)
"[Since the workshop] fear of death and dying has given
way to a huge curiosity, and excitement and a desire to go and experience this
journey; I am present to the fact that I may die at any moment. I can't
feel dying as a big problem any more, I see it as a logistical incompletion
(wills, power of attorney, decisions etc), and opportunity, another lap of a
journey. I feel as if I have died and been reborn into my own daily
life; so it has a different feel, there is a slightly different edge to
everything, as if I am a stranger in town seeing all that is going on
impartially, dispassionately, and I am also here enjoying it all the more, at
the same time."
(Gabrielle Paras Richards, UK)
I have done many meditations, workshops
and group processes: in them I never felt I could go into tears as easily as
laughter. Even during any cathartic session or long 'flushing' sessions I could
never touch that emotion in me.
This workshop was unique in that I could
connect with my emotions very easily, and that felt like the ultimate luxury.
Why this group experience worked, compared with other ways, is because of the
element of love in it.
I had thought before the workshop, that I
need to 'live my life' before contemplating on death. In fact I can and will
contemplate on death in life, in parallel with the enjoyment of life. I feel the seeds of enquiry on life,
death and love have been planted inside me. I am going to nurture them for the
rest of my life. (Dr S Nagaraju, India)
[Since the workshop]I have realised how many more challenges I
have to face. The comfort and ease of my leaving this life is up to me to a
great degree. Some of the discomfort of death, be it known of or sudden, can be
dealt with now. Other parts can be worked on from now. But I also have learnt
to open my eyes wider to what is my life now...not to analyse it but to live it
more consciously...not try to solve the puzzle, as I have struggled with in the
past, but just to go with it...trust it, moving towards what we all know is inevitable
with a smile...embracing it all. (K. Rudder, UK)
Video Testimonials at the end of the 2012 Sammasati Support-Person Training
Testimonials From Other Workshops, Retreats & Sessions With Maneesha
I want to thank you for making it possible for me to come on the workshop (Support for a Meditative Dying) in Buckland-on-the-Moor, in April. It was just wonderful. It has really deepened my experience of what’s happening, and given me what feels like new ways of just dropping deeper and deeper. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to thank you. I got a fever soon a few days afterwards, and felt pretty rough for a while. But now, getting stronger, feeling very grateful that I can just sit in this wonderful spring sunshine, and even though I feel quite weak can just let go. Still struggle with pain, and fear of pain, but again I thank you for giving me more tools to be with that.
You are doing such wonderful work, Maneesha – thank you.
(From a workshop for student psychotherapists and counsellors, Jansen Newman Institute, Sydney. Wednesday August 18th and Monday September 20th, 2010. The feedback below was submitted via an official feedback form, on which students were not expected to provide their names; hence the comments below are anonymous.)
* A very helpful and informative session.
* A great example of what can be achieved through meditation. [The facilitator has] a very gentle, respectful, nurturing presence, with a great knowledge of the content.
* Would recommend this [workshop].: it would be beneficial for those working in our field. Beneficial for self-care as well as techniques for therapy.
* Loved the chance to practice the techniques; developed my awareness of using meditation to help centre me as a counselor. More sessions needed for us as students.
* I have been resistant to meditation previously but found this class EXCELLENT. I picked up some easy, effective techniques to apply myself, and will pass them onto my (stressed) partner. A+++++++
* An excellent introduction to meditation. More please!
* Very practical and beneficial to us as student counselors. Thank you for the opportunity of this class.
* [The facilitator's] calm manner reflected the subject matter and authenticity. Would really appreciate more meditation/ mindfulness content in course.
* Very good for clients as well as therapists. [Would like a] more extended meditation class.
* I found the session to comprise an excellent merging of very interesting, powerful and simple techniques, and their strong and integral relationship to the therapy process – more please!!
* Great class. Great, warm, open teacher.
* Very good with balance of theory and technique. Thanks for scheduling this. My vote is that your next move is to make this compulsory.
* Very calming and centered.
* Thanks for putting so much into the [workshop]. It was very interesting, relevant and a lot of fun, I am so glad I came along.
I am a palliative care physician with more than 20 years' experience of caring for people living with a life-threatening illness. My main area of interest is the holistic care of those who are dying. For this reason I have explored and continue to seek ways that may help with the psycho-spiritual and existential issues that often challenge the dying person, their family and carers.
With this in mind, I recently (May 16, 2010) organized a workshop titled ‘A meditative approach to dying’ with Maneesha James as the facilitator. The workshop was experiential and was therefore limited to 12 participants and included a counsellor, social worker, school teachers, yoga instructors and myself.
The workshop had a small didactic component and consisted mainly of discussions and meditation. The discussions focussed on our own fears around death and dying, and how meditation can address some of those fears. The meditative sessions helped us to appreciate how the mind finds it hard to ‘let go’. This is particularly true when fear abounds, as is often the case in the palliative care situation. Such fear not only compromises the peace around dying but also the peace people desperately seek while living. The final meditation session took us deeper into the experience of dying as it gently explored the transition from life into death.
The discussions and meditations were affirming rather than threatening and this was due largely to the sensitivity and compassion Maneesha has acquired after many years of running workshops.
Maneesha comes from a general and psychiatric nursing and midwifery background and has recently completed two years' psychotherapy studies. She is a sannyasin, having studied under a spiritual master for many years. Over the past 20 years she has lived and taught in Western communities and has adapted the knowledge and wisdom she has acquired to our contemporary Western society.
Maneesha has a great drive and passion for the work that she does and I am pleased to endorse her and her work unreservedly.
Palliative Care Physician
Thanks for [the workshop]. It’s so nice to be around like minded souls who speak the same language. What was highlighted for me was how the experience of letting go in meditation and the experience of letting go in the dying process seems to be one in the same. Over the last 6 years being a meditator I’ve gone from total fear of death to an understanding that there is nothing to fear except fear itself. That has come from an experience of feeling the eternal presence of my self that never changes. If we can learn to die alive every day – that is, to let go in meditation every day to the body and its roles and responsibilities – then we can fully re-enter those roles and live each day more fully and alive without taking so much stress and sorrow in.
I think the workshop is valuable to everyone not just those working with the dying.
Best wishes with your work.
Thank you for a beautiful day. It’s gorgeous to do meditations and be so peaceful. I loved the silence after the first long meditation. You are very gracious and your manner is interested, loving and allowing. It was wonderful to meet you and I enjoyed the day immensely.
I loved the way you presented and facilitated – your warmth and at-homeness in yourself, your passion for the subject, and your respectful responsiveness to the different participants. You do have a very inviting, warm energy that I think people enjoy. I was very tired but my perception of the day was that it went very well. I like the way you attuned to people's needs and adjusted the program, yet also stayed focused to put across the day's intention.
Much love to you and warm wishes for your work. It was so good to partake in it,
First, I would like to let you know it was a privilege to have been able to attend your workshop, [“AMeditative Approach to Dying”]. I have been truly inspired to continue on my path of meditation. I have always known this to be true but have always struggled. I have practiced meditation on and off over my life (mostly off) but I left on Sunday with a dedicated heart. I know meditation is the answer to many of the problems I face in my life and I know it is the path home!
I have been a palliative-care volunteer for sometime now. It was helpful listening to how you followed through on questions e.g.: ‘So how did that feel? What was that like for you?’ etc. I really do feel that the meditation process would be very very helpful in the palliative care situation as it would be in one’s life situation. I found your meditations very helpful and will definitely get a couple of the [guided meditation] CD'S.
Maneesha, I admire your dedication and feel that although Australians in general are not as open to this sort of thing as they are in the Europe and the eastern world your workshops will find a way to those who will most benefit your comprehensive knowledge.
Again, I thank you.