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Strange and Reassuring

210. Strange and Reassuring

I went to a workshop just outside of Boston years ago. It was titled “Death and Dying.” The most astounding piece of it, and consequently the part that I remember was the exercise in dying.

We were all seated on the floor and were given these instructions: Find a partner. One of you decide to go first. Lie down and listen to the visualization that is given. I found a partner, I stretched out on my back on the floor and my partner sat beside me. We both listened to the visualization.

I was relaxed and when the visualization was done, I felt myself there on the floor and then part of me lifted up off the floor, out of my body, and hovered in the space above me. I could see myself on the floor. I could see my partner. She seemed not totally relaxed. She seemed nervous about what she was doing.

I recognized that I was in the process of dying and couldn’t speak to her to reassure her. But up above as I looked down I wanted to say to her “Don’t worry—just stay there. I can’t talk to you right now. I’m busy…I’m busy dying. But please don’t leave me. Stay with me. Just take a breath and stay with me.”

I lost track of time. I’m sure it wasn’t a long, long time and finally I heard the instructor’s voice start to bring us back. I traveled from that space above myself where I had hovered and re-entered my body. When it was complete we had a few minutes to talk about it together, and I shared with her what I had experienced. Then we switched roles and I sat beside her as she died.

I have always remembered it clearly. And I applied it to my work as I visited people in the nursing home that seemed to be in the process of dying. My out-of-body experience seemed to assure me that I could relax and be present for them. I would accompany them as they did whatever they were needing to do.

I remembered what I was trying to tell my partner when I hovered above my own body: Stay with me. Don’t leave me. Just take a breath and stay with me.

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