How is this for role modeling vibrant aging? Neta has been doing yoga for years, fell in love with Ayurveda at age 85 and survived a hospitalization for pneumonia by doing her “yoga breathing”. We recently said goodbye to Neta when at 91, she was felled by a stroke and left her body in comfort and dignity at HopeWest Care Center, our local hospice. According to the calendar, she was our oldest yoga student, but her true nature was vibrant, curious and playful, so she often seemed like the youngest. You can read more about this extraordinary woman here.
Neta’s passing inspired Demi and I to VLOG about death, grief and yoga. Many of you know Demi’s husband passed/left his body (what language do you use?) 16 years ago, and in this VLOG she reflects on her life after his early death.
The Yoga Sutra 2.9 gives us deep wisdom about death. It describes our fear of death with the Sanskrit word abhiniveśaḥ which means “that which has penetrated every living being, from all around, in every respect”. Abhiniveśaḥ has come to mean death and the fear of death because for most of us, both death and the fear of it have penetrated our conscious and unconscious minds.
Our current popular culture reflects this fear of death. If you have cared for an elder, or someone with a “life threatening” illness (like Demi’s Tom) you may have walked the tightrope of fighting death and welcoming it. This is why as yogis we love Hospice ~ their philosophy includes the acceptance of death. Hospice defies abhiniveśaḥ by facing death within the context of implied spirituality ~ that there is something more to us than our bodies and possessions. Hospice workers have the skills to prepare us for, and move toward death with comfort and grace.
Neta’s life and death give me hope and inspiration. I think she knew there was more to her than her body and possessions. We never heard her use the word soul, but I’m quite certain she knew she had one, and I loved being around her, because she lived from that infinite awareness with joy.
Here’s the vlog for you, be sure to leave your comments below!