Performing User - Week 1 Documentation

03 Feb 2016
courses, documentation, performing user

Guided Mindfulness Meditation on Death and the Crashing Plane

Last week I showed a flight safety instructions booklet, and mentioned how I always found it interesting that before every flight you have to take a moment to envision your own mortality. So as an accompaniment, I would like to take you all, my fellow fliers, on a brief guided mindfulness meditation on death and the crashing plane.

For context: the internet says: Contemplation and meditation on death and impermanence are regarded as very important in many spiritual practices for two reasons : (1) it is only by recognising how precious and how short life is that we are most likely to make it meaningful and to live it fully, and (2) by understanding the death process and familiarizing ourself with it, we can remove fear at the time of death and ensure a good rebirth.

The meditation is of course optional, but if you would like to participate, I invite you to take a moment to relax and make yourself comfortable.

Plant your feet firmly on the floor, relax your muscles, you may close your eyes if you choose, rest your hands on your lap or in a comfortable position; do whatever you need to do to feel at ease Once settled, take a few deep breaths slowly.

**long pause

Observe the inhalation and exhalation process while breathing, then allow yourself to breath normally again.

Notice the points where your body makes contact. Your feet on the floor, you back against the chair. Feel your bum against the seat, pressed against that piece of foam that will soon be your life preserver

Feel the plane convulse as it angles downward, the bumps throwing your waist into the seat belt’s restraint. Be aware of the exits. The closest one could be behind you. Notice the group of people trying to pry open that exit up front. Is that a wise move? Do they know something you don’t? Does it matter?

You are dying. From now onwards there will be no future, no past for you. You, as a human being, are ending your time on earth.

Consider the indifference of the end of life. The famous and wealthy, those who do good things, have perfect health, and everyone else in first class. None of them can prevent death.

Don’t dwell on imagining who will be at your funeral Don’t worry about heaven or hell or next steps, instead focus on the moment

Yes! I am dying here and now. There are many unfulfilled desires, many dreams to realize, many responsibilities to be taken care of. However, all these desires, dreams and responsibilities are loosing their relevance in this moment of death. Really visualize that all desires, emotions, dreams, and responsibilities which you would like to fulfill had you got a chance to live further and say to yourself – “No matter how important they are for me, Since I am dying, nothing matters.”

**long pause**

Notice as slowly -slowly all body parts start loosing their vitality and energy. Your physical body will merge into the chemistry of our planet. Your mind will cease to exist.

And with that we’ll bring it back to the room, wiggle your toes or fingers to gently come back. Open your eyes when you’re ready.


Post-sketch reflection

The sketch went better than I anticipated. It helped going first, so I could get it out of the way, and didn’t have to worry about comparing my projects to people who’d already presented. I was definitely self-conscious about not doing the assignment correctly.

For the sketch, I stayed seated in my chair and everyone else stayed seated in their chair. At the point where I invited people to get comfortable, people entered their own space and the tone of the room shifted. Everyone participated (or at least closed their eyes). There was a fire truck blaring by, which many people commented added to the ambience of the performance. I felt somewhat nervous reading the script, but I think my voice was pretty calming so that helped keep the intention of the piece. Lauren asked why I chose to say the paragraph about context at the beginning (or at all). A good question. As a liner person, I would want clear signposts about what the thing is, but it does impose a certain lense on the rest of the performance, perhaps cutting off other experiences that people could otherwise have.

Some useful critique on the ‘narrative’ of the meditation. One person suggested having more about the environment of the plane - the people sitting next to you, etc, to get a clearer image of the plane. The distractions (fire truck) and subject matter (death, something you’d usually avoid or get anxious about) juxtaposed with the practice of mindfulness meditation made for an interesting contrast.

I felt the meditation tried to combine the 2 reasons for death meditations. Each is a separate thing, and it might’ve been too much to combine into one 5 minute practice. Perhaps instead pick one and explore further.

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