Death is something most of us fear and avoid thinking about at all costs. But according to Patt Lind-Kyle, author of Embracing the End of Life: A Journey Into Dying & Awakening, our conscious and unconscious fear of death prevents us from experiencing true contentment. Preparing for our eventual death now—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—enables us to release the uncertainty and fear of dying.
Lind-Kyle’s eight-step process, which she calls The Journey to Freedom: A Guide to Life, lays out the psychospiritual transformation we all can go through long before we die. This journey gives you the understanding of why you must train your mind to live fully and prepare yourself now for your eventual death.
Steps 1-4 explain how the mind develops over time into an identity that Lind-Kyle calls the constricted self. Steps 5-8 teach the steps for unraveling the constricted self and transforming into the expanded self. Keep reading to learn more.
STEP 1: The Journey of Separation. In this step you explore how fear begins to be a central part of your life. Lind-Kyle says your “constricted self”—the ego structure that encompasses body, mind, and brain—was born when you separated from your mother’s womb. This is the anxious, angry, shame-filled, survival-driven self that believes it is separate from the expanded self. (It’s the “expanded self” that realizes all is connected and that death is merely an illusion.) As you grew and explored your new world, this sense of separation from the “other” was reinforced. Also, at certain stages of life—from ages 3-5, from 30-34, from 60-64, and from 90-94—this sense of separation intensifies.
Lind-Kyle provides a series of exercises—involving journaling and meditation practices—to help you explore the birth of your constricted self and your deep fears and insecurities around separation.
STEP 2: The Journey of Emotions. Imagine a plant growing in the earth. As it gets a little water, it sends its roots deeper to get more connection and be more earthbound. In this analogy, your emotions are the water that makes you more bound and constricted as you grow older. These emotional structures create boundaries that keep you separated from yourself and others.
From ages 34-38 and 64-68, you may find yourself wanting more of everything, better relationships, or more passion and creativity. These strong desires build and create tension, restrictions, or blocks in the flow of your life. This resistance manifests as judging, negating, doubting, or belittling yourself. Further, in moments of fear, you may experience reactive emotions like anxiety, worry, anger, shame, panic, and guilt.
Lind-Kyle offers exercises to help you examine and cope with the emotional patterns you have developed over your lifetime. Using the Enneagram—an ancient energy template revealing the nine human interconnected personality types—she helps you recognize how your particular Enneagram “type” influences your dominant feelings and defense mechanisms.
STEP 3: The Journey of the Mind. Your thinking process can become a powerful force dividing you from your physical body. Around ages 8-12 (and then again at ages 38-42 and 68-72), your focus on language moves your attention from your body to your head. You become enthralled with talking, thinking, and figuring things out, which separates further from the sense of being grounded, and from your emotions and sensory awareness. As a result, you are cut off from the source of your core energy; living in your head robs you of your vital, alive self.
When the mind is the driver of the doer, there is an intense need to feel recognized, to be in power, and to be loved for the power and accomplishments. This craving overpowers the practical needs or emotions that allow life to flow. The goal of this strong desire is to be happy and to move out of the fear of survival and suffering, but instead it moves toward an excess of worldly pleasures. These come in all kinds of packages such as wealth, fame, sexual pleasure, food, and appearance.
The physical ramifications of being out of balance in this energy frequency are issues of digestion, liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, kidneys, chronic fatigue, acidity, hypoglycemia, diabetes, and back pain.
STEP 4: The Journey of Self-Identity. This process describes how you identify as a separate person from the world around you. You strongly identify with your name, family, partners, history, job, and friends. Then in early adulthood, a main identity—for example, parent, doctor, or gardener—becomes dominant. With that firm label, you have a stable personal identity and feel secure. In midlife, the constricted self compels you to look at what you have done in your life in terms of your talents and accomplishments, and this confirms your identity once again. In later life, it is looking back and trying to confirm meaning and purpose among the various identities that you have played out throughout your life.
To help you recognize how The Journey of Self-Identity has affected your life, Lind-Kyle provides several exercises and meditations. Using your individual Enneagram type, she helps you recognize how your personality patterns have affected your sense of identity over the years.
Steps five through eight help you face and unwind your ego-created journey—your constricted self. (Note that this is the same process that happens when you die.) When you surrender the constricted self, it doesn’t vanish or go away, but it is no longer in control of your life. The great blessing of letting go is that you now have a choice of what behaviors and actions you choose.
STEP 5: Freedom from Personal Identity. In this step, you begin to detach from your constricted ego. This path to freedom allows you to embody, accept, and become open to all aspects of your separation without self-judgment. Now you will begin to shift your perception to your expanded self and move into a space of awareness. Lind-Kyle says forgiveness is the energy of the heart that releases the binding structure of your self-identity and removes the feeling of being a victim. It also enables you to release your deepest fears.
To begin the transformation and opening of your heart, focus on these four simple forgiveness meditation phrases. Fill in the person (including yourself) or people you would like to forgive:
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for not understanding.
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for making mistakes.
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for hurting (myself, the other, or group).
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for not following (my, your, their) deepest values.
STEP 6: Freedom from the Mental Self. This step involves releasing the mental patterns that have bound you to your inner pain and suffering. Lind-Kyle says the key to releasing your controlling mind is practicing gratitude. Gratitude increases the vibration and energy of the heart center and enables your neurons to fire off in new patterns that generate joy, happiness, freedom, and inner contentment. The greater the gratitude, the more the mind chatter dies away, and clarity of awareness of your expanded self continually opens. Practicing gratitude also reveals that you are not the “doer” of the self-centered constricted self.
To start practicing gratitude, Lind-Kyle offers this exercise:
- Make a list of all the things you are grateful for, and a list of all the things you are not grateful for. Keep adding to the lists for a few days.
- Say the words “thank you” for both the positive and negative people, situations, and events you experience.
- A few days later, touch your heart area when you say “thank you” for both positive and negative events. The physical touch and feeling will begin to open the love doorway wider and wider.
STEP 7: Freedom from the Emotional Self. From the moment you wake up each day, you are driven by an inner dialogue that keeps you racing in fear, anger, judgment, confusion, pleasure, uncertainty, and so on as you process your thoughts, sensations, feelings, and emotions. Unwinding your emotional impulses helps you gain the possibility of inner expansion and release from fear. According to Lind-Kyle, practicing appreciation trains your reactive mind to stay focused in the present moment. The energy charge of appreciation activates the feeling state within you and shifts your moods, attitudes, and beliefs.
Every day, look for people and situations to express your appreciation—by simply seeing and acknowledging what you see. For example, if you see a cat stretched out on a windowsill, you might say, “You look beautiful in your relaxation,” or if you notice a coworker working late, speak your appreciation to his or her effort. As you speak your appreciation, feel the energy speaking from your heart. The awareness of your appreciation builds an energy charge between you and the other. Keep the appreciation going throughout the day. The more you appreciate consistently throughout the day, the more the energy will increase the clarity of your awareness.
STEP 8: Freedom from Separation. This final step recognizes the illusion of your “false” outer home and the separation you have lived with all your life. The means to return to your “real” home—as a complete human—is through kindness and compassion. These two practices fully open your heart to embrace your expanded self. Once the constricted self surrenders, unity envelops you, and your sense of identify shifts to become the entire universe. Yes, this is what happens when you die. But this is also what can happen for you now, today. When the constricted self crumbles, the mind clears and the heart of kindness and compassion opens up. This is the place of awakening to your essential human self in this lifetime.
Lind-Kyle offers powerful exercises and meditations to help you attune to the high-level frequencies of kindness and compassion.
If you allow it, this eight-step process can heighten and raise your consciousness. You come now to the place of integration to combine all the qualities of the heart to become whole within you. It creates the potential to shift you into being free of all that creates tension, pain, and fear within you to a quality of expansion and acceptance of your true self.
About the Author:
Patt Lind-Kyle, MA, is the author of Embracing the End of Life: A Journey Into Dying & Awakening, and is a teacher, therapist, speaker, and consultant. Her book Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal Award and a Best Book Award from USA Book News. Patt has written a chapter in Audacious Aging, and she is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up. She lives in Nevada City, CA, and can be found online at www.PattLindKyle.com.
About the Book:
Embracing the End of Life: A Journey into Dying & Awakening (Llewellyn Publications, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-738-75356-0, $22.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, Amazon.com, and BarnesAndNoble.com.