A Spooky Halloween Meditation: Mindfulness for the Dead and the Living

halloween-om-mindfulness-and-halloween-pumpkinHalloween wraps fear in innocence, as though it were a slightly sour sweet. Let terror, then, be turned into a treat. — Nicholas Gordon

Breathing in: The wind is blowing
Breathing out: The leaves are falling

Breathing in: All is changing
Breathing out: All is shifting

Breathing in: The leaves wind is blowing

Breathing out: The leaves are falling

Breathing in: All is dying
Breathing out: All is growing

Breathing in: The days are shorter
Breathing out: The nights are longer

Breathing in: The season’s changing
Breathing out: The world’s still turning

We never know which will come first: Our next breath or our next life. — Tibetan proverb

As we in the Northern Hemisphere enter into the darkest time of the year, it is a perfect season for remembering, affirming and embodying the light of our true nature to aid us in honoring and learning from the darkness, note Joel and Michelle Levey

The Leveys continue by saying, “…the primary training ground for being mindfully present at the time of death is to learn to be mindfully present, or lucid, in your dreams. The training ground for being mindful in your dreams is to develop greater mindfulness in the ‘waking dream’ of your ordinary life.”

Bronwyn Robertson points out that fears can imprison us, haunt us, and cause us to view our lives through a lens of darkness and negativity.

When haunted by our fears, Bronwyn asks, is it best to retreat or to venture forward to face them, even to laugh in the face of our fears? Neuroscience research shows that it is through approach, not avoidance, that we overcome our fears.

Researchers have found that engaging in mindfulness-based practices that specifically focus our attention on our fears can enhance our ability to tolerate and regulate intense emotions. Mindfulness neutralizes our reactions to the things that scare us.

When we are gripped by fear, positive emotions such as empathy, are deactivated. Fear centers in the brain cause us to remain on guard for the things that threaten us and to view almost all things as dangerous.

Halloween, this modern day “carnival of mirth”, gives us the opportunity to not only approach but also to laugh at the things that scare us. Laughter calms our fears by producing endorphins, activating the prefrontal cortex and deactivating the limbic system, thus toning down the fight, flight and freeze response.

And on perhaps a more practical note, Jennifer Cluff re-minds us:

“A lot of little people will be visiting your home. Be accepting. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may be struggling with his fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues. The child who does not say “trick or treat” or “thank you” may be non-verbal. The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl, might have an allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autism. Be nice. Be patient. It’s everyone’s Halloween.

References and links

Joel Levey and Michelle Levey

Bronwyn Robertson

Jennifer Cluff

Key themes

Halloween Mediation, Halloween Mindfulness, Awareness of Death, Celebration of Life, Breathing Through the Seasons