11 Jun 2024

By Kasia Stepien

Long Live Impermanence – reflections after the Mindful Morning and Death Cafe

It was heartening to have a good number of people join us for our experiment in offering a different kind of Mindful Morning on 2nd June.  Different in that the opening practice was a relaxation rather than a guided meditation, followed by an excerpt from a Dharma talk by Thay:

Different also, in that in place of our familiar Dharma Sharing element we offered ‘Death Cafes’ in small groups, following the practice of that wonderful organisation by not having an ‘agenda’ as such, nor limiting sharing to our own experience, but inviting any kind of conversation around feelings, thoughts or experiences on the theme of death and dying.

Another, less subtle difference being an open invitation to bring tea and cake, an  important element in an in-person Death Cafe!

It was also heartening to see so many smiling faces when people returned to the main room at the end of the morning after conversations about death, which encourages us to hold the same event again in the future.

Here are further reflections on the morning from Susie Mackenzie:

This was a change from the normal format for a mindful morning, but not a big change.  The Death Cafe format fits easily with our practice, and I have been to Death Cafes in my local community, so I had some idea of what to expect, simply talking about death.

If you are reading this and have no experience of Death Cafes, but bearing in mind our ‘Five Remembrances’ meditation, it is easy to tune into the Death Cafe ethos – which is  to talk about and to contemplate death and dying.

My understanding is that a Death Cafe is a safe space to talk about your own death, or the death of a loved one, and also consider and share information about practical considerations around death.  I am lucky that many of my family are quite open to me starting conversations about death, but not everyone is so lucky, so this safe way to air thoughts and feelings can be very helpful and can encourage people to talk with their families and loved ones with confidence.

Beginning with a relaxation was great preparation for me as it grounded my in my body, and I let go of expectations and worries about what might come up for me.

Our Cafe conversation was open, honest, deep, respectful and also responsive without being intrusive.  Personal experiences were shared, fears were expressed, tips about power of attorney and how to handle professionals were offered.  It felt safe, supportive and compassionate throughout.  I am now thinking about how I could introduce the idea to my local sangha.

I am offering a deep bow of thanks to all those who make these mornings possible, being sure that others benefitted and that we repeat the experience again from time to time.

For information about our monthly Mindful Mornings, happening every first Sunday of the month (10am – 12pm) please go to plumvillage.uk/events