Background: In mourning the loss of the lovely Thich Nhat Hanh, I came across the following facebook post: “As Elizabeth rests in peace, I become a man of Peace. As Thay rests in Peace, I become a man of Peace. As Desmond Tutu rests in Peace, I become a man of Peace. As Jesus is the Prince of Peace, I become in Christ, a man of Peace. Let Peace walk before me. Let Peace come behind me, on the right and on the left, above and below, let there be Peace on Earth this night, and let it begin with me.”
The writer of those words is Bob Holmes. The Elizabeth mentioned at the beginning is the beloved wife who died one year ago. He also goes by the identifier “Contemplative Monk” on social media I was deeply moved by his way of expressing these ideas. It suggests to me that we might borrow some of the peace that our loved ones are resting in, that we might draw from it. I also connect with the idea that one of the ways are loved ones live on is through the ways their lives and deaths shape and challenge us.
In the process of asking Bob for his permission to use this as a template for a spiritual practice, I’ve got to know him a little better. I’ve always really enjoyed his content. It was exciting to know that there’s a good man behind the great thoughts. You ought to check it out here.
This practice will ask you to generate a mental (or physical) list of people who have died that impacted you. It might be someone you know. It might be someone famous. It could be ancestor, a historical or religious figure. Please show healthy discretion around engaging this practice. Faithing death is an important task that most of us recieve very little preperation for. I encourage you to challenge yourself, some, but beware of being too ambitious with trying to contend with deaths that are too new and raw in this way.
- Release your concenrns and worries for this time.
- Take three deep inhalations and exhalations.
- Spend some time bringing to mind the people close to you that have died. If you’re likely to forget names after thinking about them, it might be wise to right some down. Don’t rush this process.
- Inhale. Exhale.
- With your next inhale think, “As ____________ rests in peace….”
- exhale and think “I become a person of peace.”
- Repeat steps 4 through 7 either with the same person or the next person on your list.
- Sit with whatever feelings or sensations are with you right now. It might be feelings that considering the death of these people brings up. It might be feelings about death. It might be feelings of peace. It might be something else. It might be nothing at all. Consider releasing these feelings with your exhalations. Or discussing them with God. Or simply naming them and holding them close to your heart.