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.
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 Blyth Lord coped with the illness and death of her young daughter and went on to create the Courageous Parents Network.
In this episode I share an interview with Blyth Lord whose daughter Cameron died before the age of two of Tay-Sachs disease, a rare genetic disorder. She describes how she coped with her grief and established a non-profit to help other parents who are caring for children with life-limiting illness.
On the evening of August 21st I’ll share a conversation with hospice and palliative care physician Dr. Ira Byock about the 20th Anniversary of his groundbreaking book Dying Well. Join us for this LIVE event where you will be able to chat with Dr. Byock and ask questions about his books and his work. Let’s show our gratitude for his dedication to improving the way we care for people at the end of life. Learn more and register here. (It’s free and you’ll receive the replay if you can’t join us on the 21st.)
This podcast is supported through the generous donations of “patrons” who chip in $1 or $2 per month to help cover the costs of production. A HUGE thank you to all of you who are helping out! Our next Hospice Happy Hour will take place on Friday August 25th (you’ll receive all the information by email.) If you’d like to become a donor go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!
I chose to share today’s interview because of the very recent death of Charlie Gard, an 11-month old boy in England with a rare, inherited mitochondrial disease. His terminal condition sparked a controversy that spread around the world when the hospital providing his care proposed that Charlie’s life support be terminated. Even the Pope and President Trump weighed in on the issue that went to a high court to decide little Charlie’s fate. Ultimately his parents yielded to the court’s decision and Charlie died on Friday July 28th.
This heartbreaking story points out how nearly impossible it can be for parents to make life-and-death decisions for their children. In this interview my guest Blyth Lord experienced a similar tragic situation when her baby daughter was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare genetic disorder. Blyth shares how she coped with the diagnosis and the remaining months of her daughter’s life, as well as her subsequent grief.
Blyth went on to found the Courageous Parents Network and to contribute to the Pediatric Starter Kit for the Conversation Project. You’ll learn:
What factors are most helpful to families coping with the devastating loss of a child.
The benefits of Pediatric Palliative Care from a parent’s perspective.
How the Courageous Parents Network is offering support to parents caring for terminally ill children.
How the Pediatric Starter Kit from The Conversation Project is helping parents have important conversations with their ill children.
Blyth Lord is the founder and Executive Director of Courageous Parents Network, a nonprofit focused on improving the experience of parents caring for children with life-limiting illness through education, advocacy and parent-to-parent support. Blyth is also the Executive Director of the Cameron and Hayden Lord Foundation, a small family grant-making foundation whose mission is to advance pediatric palliative care in the United States, as well as fund research of therapies for lysosomal storage diseases. Blyth’s daughter, Cameron, and nephew, Hayden, died of Tay-Sachs disease in 2001. In the years following, Blyth has promoted the needs of families caring for children with serious illness and how providers can best meet these needs. Blyth is also co-chair of the Parent Advisory Group for the AAP’s Section on Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Blyth sits on the board of National Tay-Sachs and Allied Disease and on the board of The Children’s Room, a bereavement support program for young families who have lost parents/siblings/children.
In memory of Jon’s contributions to positive conversations about death through Death Cafe.
This episode is dedicated to the memory of Jon Underwood who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 44 on June 27, 2017. I share an interview with Jon from 2015 about Death Cafe, why he started the movement, and his dreams of creating an actual Death Cafe in London. Thank you Jon for changing how the world talks about death! Learn more at DeathCafe.com.
Please consider making a donation as a way of thanking Jon posthumously for his work!
This podcast is supported through generous donations at Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you to my latest supporter John Wadsworth who is the founder and creative director of Art of Dying Magazine (go to ArtofDying.net to learn more.) If you would like to become a donor go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.
About the 2015 interview with Jon Underwood:
When Jon Underwood and his Mom, Sue Barsky Reid, hosted the very first Death Cafe in his home in London in September 2011, they had no idea they were creating a movement that would sweep across the world.
In this interview Dr. Karen Wyatt and Jon Underwood will talk about the past, present and future of Death Cafe. You will learn how you can be part of the Death Cafe movement whether you would like to attend a Cafe, start your own, or support Jon’s future dream of opening a real Death Cafe in London!
We can learn from Jon’s story that it is possible for one person with a simple idea to create big changes in the world!
Thank you Jon creating those big changes for all of us! We wish that we had more time to be inspired by you but you have always taught that life is fleeting. You enjoyed each moment just as each of us must learn to do.
Learn how this caregiver coped with his wife’s illness and rose above grief to experience unconditional love.
In this episode I share an interview with Joe DiNardo who talks about his book A Letter to My Wife and discusses how his long-term practice of mindfulness meditation helped him cope with being a caregiver and grieving his wife’s death.
Thank you to all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu who have helped keep this podcast on the air! We just had our first “Hospice Happy Hour” hangout last week and it was a great success.
If you are interested in joining the hangouts or in having me promote your website, book, product, organization, or cause on this podcast, sign up to contribute just $1 or $2 per month and become a patron – Patreon.com/eolu!
My guest this week is Joe DiNardo, an attorney from Buffalo NY, who served as a caregiver for his wife Marcia during her cancer diagnosis, treatment and eventual death. As a long-term practitioner of Vipassana meditation, Joe found that his mindfulness meditation practice helped him through the difficult challenges of caregiving and grief and he has much wisdom to share with us from the perspective of a family caregiver.
Joe is also the author of the newly released book A Letter to My Wife, which follows his journey with late wife Marcia, from cancer diagnosis through death. The website states that “His practice of mindfulness is explored throughout this heartfelt dedication and serves as the foundation for his recommendations on coping with loss and healing. His story, which includes both practical advice and profound wisdom, is a real-life example of how powerful and guiding meditation can be during life’s painful and challenging chapters. ”
In this interview you will learn:
What Joe learned about being a caregiver from accompanying Marcia through illness
His best advice for other family caregivers
How he discovered the practice of meditation and began to apply it to his life
How mindfulness meditation helped him on a daily basis during Marcia’s illness and throughout his own grief process
How I got joy back into my life after my father’s suicide death.
This episode is a follow-up to the 8-part series I presented on my father’s suicide death (episodes 85-92). I will look at the factors involved that helped me eventually find joy in my life once again.
You can help support this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series by making a donation at my Patreon page: www.Patreon.com/eolu. This week I would like to thank my newest supporters: Melissa Neeley and Jozie Rabyor. You are awesome! Your support means everything to me. Also last week’s supporter Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs has asked me to promote Death Cafe as a thank-you for her donation. Go to DeathCafe.comto learn more about the movement, download a guideline for starting your own Cafe, or find a Death Cafe near you to attend!
Finally as promised, the Patreon donations have reached $50 per month so I am scheduling the first Hospice Happy Hour for Patreon supporters! It will take place on Friday June 23rd at 3 pm Pacific/6 pm Eastern. We’ll “hangout” together, talk about death, offer support to one another, and answer questions. If you are a current donor you’ll receive the call-in information by email. If you are interested you can become a donor too by going to Patreon.com/eolu!
Today I’ll be sharing with you my insights on how I moved through the pain of grief and guilt and managed (over many years time) to recover a quiet joy in my life. Here’s the list of factors that helped me:
Patience. I needed to recognize that grief has its own timing (and its different for everyone.) I had to let me grief follow its own path and unfold in its own way.
Stillness. Over time I developed my capacity to experience stillness within through a practice of contemplation and meditation. I discovered that joy arises in the stillness so this step was essential in order for me to ultimately feel joyful again.
Facing emotions. For many years I repressed all of my negative emotions about my father’s death because they were too frightening and dark for me. But it was necessary for me to face up to those emotions and embrace them with love in order to make room for joy to return.
Allowing change. I learned that I had to allow my grief and pain to change everything about me in order to move through it and discover joy again. My resistance to change kept me stuck in grief for many years and unable to move on.
Letting go of expectations. I had to alter my assumptions about how joy would show up in my life and recognize that it would arrive as one tiny droplet at a time. Joy for me now is quiet and serene.
Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! Send me a message or your questions for the Happy Hour at my email address firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @spiritualmd!
Find out how a psychiatrist is successfully helping veterans with unhealed trauma by using alternative practices.
In this episode I am featuring an interview from the Death & Afterlife Summit with Dr. Jeff Black, a psychiatrist who uses unconventional methods to successfully treat trauma in veterans. A few clips of this interview were featured in the Suicide Series and I wanted to share the entire interview with you.
As a follow-up to the Suicide SeriesI want to further address the issue of suicide in veterans: at this time 22 veterans take their own lives every day. This statistic is a heartbreaking tragedy and it’s time we work hard to help heal the emotional and spiritual burden that veterans bring home from war. Dr. Black and others describe the aftermath of trauma as “soul loss” and he uses shamanic rituals to help his patients recover the pieces of their souls that have been taken away by war.
In Episode 92 I performed a Fire Ceremony for my father to heal his wounds and to release my grief. This was recommended to me by Dr. Black and during the ceremony I felt the power of ritual to transform our losses into grace. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Dr. Jeff Black.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Until the next time …