The Living and Dying Consciously Project
Matt Diss • August 12, 2015 • Lifestyle •
When it comes to death and dying, most of us would rather avoid the topic. For Kitty Edwards, the executive director at The Living and Dying Consciously Project, it’s an idea invited with open arms.
The Living and Dying Consciously Project, a Boulder based non-profit organization, is helping individuals, spiritual teachers, and inspirational leaders prepare for the complex, and often overwhelmingly emotional, processes of life and death. By sharing the ideals and wisdom of ancient practices and rites, teachers from across the globe are seeking guidance from the wealth of worldly knowledge that the organization has to offer.
“The primary focus is training teachers to take information back with them to their own communities,” states Edwards. “They may need help, inspiration or technical skills when dealing with the focus of their clientele. Maybe it’s people in grief. Perhaps someone is dying. Whatever it is, we help them produce what they need to do their work.”
Pulling from a wide variety of ideologies, and working with clientele from various spiritual traditions (Shamanism, Sufism, Buddhism, and Kabbalah, just to name a few), Edwards and her team have developed workshops, designed new courses, and created learning materials that can provide support and understanding to all those taking part in the dying process. Whether it’s the individual suffering, or family, friends, doctors or caregivers, the programs are designed to make the “end of our journey” a meaningful one for everyone involved. It’s an experience that will leave us with no regrets, and provide a time to bring people together to powerfully celebrate the transition into death.
The organization offers tremendous support and provides options that suit participants’ needs. These services are offered in, what they define as, The Mythic Journey and Energetic Processes. For some, recounting special moments in life, telling stories for future relatives and leaving behind a legacy can remind them of how important their life is and was. Perhaps they can be helped, in what is defined as Unwinding Time, a practice aimed to escape the grip of days and moments which may soon be gone. As well, a plethora of mediation classes offer everyone grounded peace, a reminder that NOW is the most valuable moment to say goodbye (or in some cases hello), to make guiding principles and to embrace our love towards ourselves and each other.
“In our culture we are so able to keep people living longer,” states Edwards. “It’s amazing that we can extend the life for so long. But oftentimes what comes with that extension of life is suffering, pain, dementia and chronic health problems, all which shift the quality of your life. As your abilities diminish it becomes exhausting for our friends and family, and it becomes more difficult for doctors to manage, as it’s very fearful for the person experiencing it. If we can bring a measure of peace to that process that’s wonderful and heartfelt.”
While Edwards, and those involved in The Living and Dying Consciously Project, help to advance the invaluable knowledge of our ancient relatives, and aid in the processes of death, the organization’s success is felt by those who whole heartedly take part in the projects overarching intentions. As the company teaches lessons about dying, the real message is found in the brightness of our current life, the existing one in which we are already miraculously taking part.
“Love myself and share it. Be grateful every day. Have the courage to be me. Trust. Choose joy. Take the risk,” are the words of Patti Pansa, the inspiration of a sister organization, The No Regrets Project. Pansa struggled through a life of illness that ultimately led to her death, but with the guidance of Edwards and her team, she was able to find solace in her final months, and provide overwhelming inspiration to those who follow in her footsteps. It’s a strong reflection of the project’s message, and firmly defines what the organization and its supporters aspire to transcend.
As The Living and Dying Consciously Project continues to provide services to their teachers and associates, Edwards is also guiding clientele to other projects with similar goals to provide additional support when needed. Kim Mooney’s Practically Dying, and Sue Mackey’s Out of the Box Funeral Planning are just two of the other organizations Edward’s recommends. Both dealing with the more literal aspects of death, which is something Edwards doesn’t do, but recognizes their reality and necessity. Likewise, Conversations on Death, a Boulder County organization, hosts Death Talks, a name that fits its intentions, providing intellectual conversations on the topic of dying.
While our current society casts a ghostly shadow on the topic of death, The Living and Dying Consciously Project is doing its part to curb our negative perceptions, while safely grounding us into the realms of the unknown. It’s the hope of those involved that through acknowledging our fears and releasing them, that the fears within our culture will be released too. And that through the conscious awareness of our existing lives, guided by the ideals of ancient wisdom, we may live a happier, more fulfilled life, a life naturally received in the beauty of the present.Living and Dying Consciously Project