Learn how Treya Wilber’s spiritual practice helped her transcend fear and die consciously as told in Ken Wilber’s book Grace and Grit.
In this episode I share a powerful and heartfelt interview with Ken Wilber where we discuss the subject of “Conscious Dying” and how the life and death of his wife Treya so beautifully teach us to live and die consciously, as told in the book Grace and Grit.
Whether or not death and dying are issues that concern you at this time in your life, you will find value in listening to Ken’s discussion of this important subject. Each of us must come to terms with our mortality in the physical realm and be prepared for an unknown future. Each of us also must face losing those we deeply love, and caring for them through illness and adversity.
We can learn from Ken and Treya’s experiences how to love totally and consciously during our lifetimes – and how to let go of that love and life itself when that time arrives for us.
This interview will cover:
The meaning of “conscious dying” from a spiritual perspective
Ken’s caregiver journey and how it became his spiritual path
How Ken and Treya “carried one another’s pain” during the course of her illness and dying process
The Buddhist practice of tonglen and why it was important to Treya
How the term “passionate equanimity” describes Treya’s approach to living and dying
Ken Wilber is a philosopher, sage, author and integral theorist who has been called “the Einstein of Consciousness.” He is:
The most translated writer on consciousness studies in the United States
Author of 22 books on spirituality and science –
A Theory of Everything
A Brief History of Everything
Sex, Ecology and Spirituality
The Integral Vision
Creator of Integral Theory – a model for organizing different perspectives of life and consciousness
His book Grace and Grit chronicles the life and death of his second wife Treya Killam Wilber.
Learn how this program of the NHPCO is helping to change public perception of hospice.
In this episode I share an interview with Anita Brikman, VP of Strategic Communications for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO.) We will discuss the “Moments of Life” Campaign, which promotes public awareness of hospice and how choosing hospice at the end of life is not “giving up.”
Anita Brikman and I will discuss the NHPCO’s public awareness campaign Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice. You’ll enjoy hearing about the creation of this beautiful campaign and how it might benefit you and your community. Watch this brief video about the campaign:
In this interview you will learn:
How the Moments of Life campaign is changing misperceptions about hospice care
How cultural barriers to hospice care are being broken down by the Moments of Life videos
What tools are avaiable on the Moments of Life website for patients and providers
How you can help spread the word about this campaign in your own community
How to submit a story to the NHPCO to be part of the campaign
Anita Brikman joined NHPCO in September of 2013 as the senior vice president of strategic communications and spokesperson for the national organization, which represents 1,600 hospice and palliative care providers with 3,400 locations across the United States, and more than 60,000 individual members. NHPCO’s affiliates, the National Hospice Foundation and Hospice Action Network, promote access to this end-of-life benefit and advocate to lawmakers and regulators about its vital importance to patients and families.
I hope you’ll visit Moments of Lifeand read or watch the beautiful stories of hospice patients there!
Thanks for tuning in and remember there will be a new episode every Monday! Until next week remember:
Learn how small choirs around the country are bringing beauty and solace to the bedsides of dying patients.
In this episode I share an interview with Kate Munger and Marti Mariette who have helped to spread the “threshold choir” movement across the U.S. and the world. You’ll hear clips of their beautiful singing! Learn more at www.thresholdchoir.org.
I’m still traveling in Italy and you can keep track of my journey by following me on Instagram (kwyattmd) or Facebook (Karen Wyatt MD). I’m supposed to be getting some research and writing done for my new book on grief … but we’ll see how it goes. I might be just eating my way through the country!
You can support this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series with a small donation of $1 or $2 per month! As a thank-you gift you’ll receive a the Top 10 Interviews from EOLU, a recorded Q&A session each month (where I’ll be answering YOUR questions), and a chance to have me promote your work on this podcast! Learn more at Patreon.com/eolu.
Today I welcome my special guests Kate Munger, the founder of the Threshold Choir movement, and Marti Mariette, who is the director of the Santa Cruz Threshold Choir. They will share with us:
How and why Kate started the first Threshold Choir
The benefits of bedside singing for patients and their families
The benefits experienced by the singers themselves
How to start or join a Threshold Choir in your area
As you listen to this broadcast I am currently in Italy–traveling and doing research for my new book on grief (also eating … a lot!) This episode has been pre-recorded (along with several others) so that there will be no interruptions in the podcast. If you want to see photos of my journey follow me on Instagram or Facebook.
This podcast is generously sponsored by donations on my page at Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you to all of my patrons–your support means everything to me!! Submit your questions for the next “Hospice Happy Hour” Q&A Sessionhere and I’ll answer them next month. You can become a patron for just $1 or $2 per month and you’ll receive access to the Q&A recordings, the Top 10 Interviews from EOLU, and the opportunity to have your work promoted on this podcast. Go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!
Dr. Ira Byock is a leading palliative care physician, author, and public advocate for improving care through the end of life. He is the Founder and Chief Medical Officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence St. Joseph Health.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode of the podcast! If you enjoy this content please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes – it will help other listeners find the podcast.
Learn how to awaken to higher consciousness NOW so that you can experience conscious dying at the end of your life.
In this episode I share the secret behind the 3-part tagline I use on the EOL University website and at the end of every podcast. (If you listen regularly you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!) I discuss the wisdom behind the phrases I repeat each week and how they represent keys to our ongoing spiritual evolution!
My long-awaited trip to Italy begins tomorrow, the day after the original airing of this podcast! You can follow my journey on Instagramand Facebook as I hike, bike, eat, drink, pray, and write my way through the country–all in search of the perfect stories for my new book on grief! I’ve pre-recorded enough podcast episodes to last until I return in one month–“see” you then!
I would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Rich Hayes, who is a hospice chaplain. Check out his website at www.richhayes.com and his book God Made Simple. If you would like to join the list of patrons go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more and chip in $1 or $2 per month to support this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series. You’ll receive a thank-you on this podcast and I’ll also promote your end-of-life related book, website, cause or business. PLUS you’ll receive the monthly Hospice Happy Hour Q&A recordings!
3 Keys to Living & Dying Consciously
(Be sure to tune in to upcoming podcast episode #112 when I will feature an interview with philosopher and sage Ken Wilber about conscious dying and the death of his wife Treya. If you are interested in conscious dying you won’t want to miss it!)
In order to die consciously you must first begin to LIVE consciously right now. Here are my 3 tips for awakening to higher consciousness–they have been hiding all along in the simple tagline I use at the end of every podcast! Now you’ll find out what I mean when I remind you of them every week!
Face Your Fear
You must go through your fear in order to rise above it; the more you hide and run away from your fear of death (which is the ultimate fear) you run away from joy, as well. So begin to accept that Death is inevitable–everything in the Universe dies–and life is full of difficulties. Once you embrace that fact you can begin to work specifically on your fear of death and turn it into acceptance.
Think about death every day. Include contemplation of death as part of your daily practice; get used to the idea that life is fleeting and you don’t know when it will come to an end.
Read about death. Find books (e.g. What Really Matters) and stories that portray death and dying in a meaningful way to help you see that it is not necessarily something to fear. The dying process can be a beautiful time of healing for patients and families.
Write about death. Use your journal to record your thoughts and emotions about death. Observe how they change over time as you continue this practice of increasing death-awareness. (The book The Tao of Death with its companion journal can be a helpful tool for reading and writing about death.)
Learn about death. The more information you have about the end of life, the more your fears will lessen. Knowledge is one of the most powerful antidotes to fear. Tune in to the interviews on End-of-Life University for an ongoing education about all aspects of the end of life.
Work with death. Consider volunteering for hospice to learn how to sit with death and witness the dying process. Hospitals and nursing homes are also good places to volunteer to get closer to death and overcome your fear.
There is no substitute for preparation, no matter what you might face in the future. Once your fear has decreased begin to plan ahead for the end of life and imagine how you would like that experience to unfold. Here are some steps to help you get ready:
Know what really matters to you. Spend some time thinking about what in your life is most important and prioritize those items. You need to know what you value in order to make tough decisions in the future.
Make choices for what you want at the end of life. Use a tool like the Conversation Project Starter Kit to help you decide what type of healthcare you would like to receive in your last days.
Complete your paperwork. You need to appoint a healthcare proxy and fill out an advance directive form in order to give your wishes some legal clout. But you also need to talk to your loved ones and your doctors about your wishes so they will know how to care for you if you can’t speak for yourself.
Tend to your relationships. Learn how to forgive NOW so that you won’t be rushing to complete this important task while on your deathbed. Remember to say “I love you” to those who matter to you whenever you have an opportunity.
Learn to BE in the present moment. Let go of ruminating about the past and worrying about the future–love and joy exist right here, right now in this present moment.
Love Your Life
Once you have learned to manage fear and to BE ready for anything that comes your way, you can begin to learn to love your life just as it is, even if you are surrounded by tragedy and pain. Here are some steps to consider:
Live according to what really matters to you. Let you values guide your choices each day and put your time and energy into the things that are most important.
Practice gratitude each day. Keep a journal and begin by writing down one thing you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep. Even in the worst of times you will be able to think of one thing to be thankful for–you just have to shift your mindset to a more positive focus.
Learn to find love in every situation. After you have developed a gratitude practice you will begin to notice that love is actually present everywhere, in everything that happens. Start focusing on the love and you will find it more and more frequently.
Allow love to fill you. You can become a channel for love to the rest of the world by simply letting love into your life in every possible way. Fill yourself with love so you can share it with others.
Life is an ongoing learning process! No lesson comes easily or without a certain amount of pain, but it’s worth it. If you begin conscious now and begin to live a life of love, then you will remain conscious when it becomes your time to die. You will continue to radiate beauty and joy to those around you–I’ve seen it happen over and over again!
Here are two books to help your learning process and your practice of death awareness:
This is a special episode on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and in recognition of the recent natural disasters, hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the wildfires that rage throughout the Western United States.
In this brief episode I share an essay I wrote on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that is still relevant today. Join me in sending prayers of light and love to all who have been affected by the tragedy of 9/11, by the recent natural disasters around the planet and by war and famine wherever they occur.
Blessings to all the first responders who risk their own lives to provide safety for others during times of tragedy.
My trip to Italy is just around the corner! Check out my travel plans on Pinterest or follow my journey on Instagram and Facebook! I’ll be doing research for a new book on grief – you can read my latest blogs (on grief and other subjects) at eoluniversityblog.com!
The following is an essay I wrote in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:
Where Was God On 9/11?
by Karen Wyatt MD
As we look back to that fateful September day a decade ago that changed our world forever, each of us is able to recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when the tragedy unfolded. Indelibly etched upon our souls is the memory of the Twin Towers crashing to the ground while we were experiencing within us the disintegration of the twin beliefs behind our quintessential American swagger, that this country is infallible and invincible.
In the days following that Tuesday morning, as I attended to my patients at an urgent care clinic in the resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado, nearly every visit focused in some way on the horrific scenes of 9/11. Many patients were visitors to our area, many were suffering with symptoms of anxiety and stress, and nearly all of them had some personal connection to the tragedy, whether through a friend, relative, co-worker or acquaintance.
During those visits the same questions seemed to arise over and over again, “Where was God on 9/11?” and “How could God let this happen to us?” A few people told stories they had heard of miraculous rescues that had taken place or of some fortunate individual who had dodged fate by missing the bus or calling in sick to work that day. Those few were able to see the hand of God in these miracles and felt their faith bolstered by them. But many of my patients were disheartened and lost in doubt as the God they had believed in and trusted had utterly failed them.
The destruction that took place on 9/11 was unprecedented in the history of our young nation, unlike the many developed civilizations of the world that have survived brutal and devastating wars, fires, plagues, invasions and attacks throughout their long existences. Our country, with youthful idealism, has been founded upon the principle of religious freedom and has, until 9/11, enjoyed the illusion of a special contract with God, declared in writing on even the currency we spend.
“In God we trusted,” is now the slogan that describes the attitude of the disillusioned. God let US down: the special ones who established a new country to ensure that God could be freely worshipped by all and who believed that God, in return, would favor us over every other society. But 9/11 proved to us that we’re not really special or favored at all. In fact we are subject to the same laws of nature and the universe and mankind that govern all of creation.
What we actually lost on 9/11 was our illusion of a god who would choose one group of children over another, who would control the unfolding of history to ensure that we would always get what we want, or who would magically empower one society to hold dominion over others. We lost our childish and immature notion that God would swoop down and shield us from harm because we somehow deserve protection more than any other society on the planet.
However the tragic events of 9/11 and the difficult decade that has followed can serve as an initiation of sorts, an opportunity for our society to awaken into a more mature relationship with God, the Creator of All. In this post-traumatic state of heightened awareness we can now relate to the suffering of all of mankind with less swagger and more sensitivity, less entitlement and more empathy. While we can still celebrate our freedom we will do so now with the solemn knowledge that the expression of true liberty requires responsibility toward others and the planet; we can no longer think or feel or act as if we matter more than everything else.
And so, the question remains, where was God on 9/11? God was … in every ash and cinder, in every teardrop, in every piece of twisted metal, in every broken heart, in every outstretched hand, in every final breath, in every lit candle, in every moment of stunned silence, in every desperate prayer, in every word of doubt and disbelief, in every shout of anger, in every act of bravery, in every cry of fear. On that day, as on every other day, God the Creator permeated everything, held the fragile strands of our existence and wove them gently into the unseen, yet perfect, tapestry of the Universe.
Remember that in the midst of tragedy we cannot see the tapestry that we are part of – we cannot perceive the design or the beauty into which our lives have been woven. Stay strong and know that you are surrounded by light and love!
Learn how this holistic veterinarian cares for animals as they reach the end of life.
In this episode I share an interview with Ella Bittel, a holistic veterinarian who specializes in helping animal companions at the end of life. She’ll share tips for caring for our own pets when they become terminally ill.
My trip to Italy is coming up in just 2 weeks! You can check out my Pinterest board to see where I’m planning to go and then keep track of my travels by following me on Instagram or Facebook. I’ll be writing, walking, eating, biking, and tasting some wine as we work our way through Italia!
Become a patron of this podcast by making a donation of just $1 or $2 per month at Patreon.com/eolu! You’ll receive the Top 10 Interviews from EOLU, access to the exclusive Hospice Happy Hour Q&A session each month, and a chance to promote your work on this podcast. A huge THANK YOU to all my current patrons for your support! Join them if you wish at Patreon.com/eolu.
The following interview references a video named Denali that is a “must-see”! Here is the link to watch it on Vimeo:
Ella Bittel teaches us how to care for our animal companions so that they can fully live out their lives. She uses holistic and complementary medicine to keep animals comfortable at the end of life and encourages us to provide this loving care to our own pets. In this interview she discusses:
What it takes to give hospice care to an animal family member including dogs and cats
How we can create conditions to allow for a peaceful hospice assisted natural transition of our pet
How we can prepare so that giving hospice care to our animal companions becomes possible
Tips for assuring the comfort of our pets
The hotline available for questions regarding hospice care for pets on her website