Death and the New Year.

Via Eric Klein
on Jan 2, 2012
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As you face the New Year, it’s clear: there’s so much to do. So many items on your ever expanding goal and to-do lists. How can you set priorities and focus on what matters most? How can you whittle the list down to the core so that your actions and choices align with your
heart’s deeper dream?

The wisdom traditions from around the world suggest using death as your advisor.
These traditions view the awareness of death, far from being a morbid preoccupation, as the light that illuminates the sacredness of this moment.

I remember teaching a meditation retreat on Maui and waking each morning to the most amazing spider web bedecked in glistening drops of dew. Each drop sparkled like a jewel in the morning sun. The very sun that would cause each radiant drop to evaporate within the hour.

Isn’t every moment as amazing and radiant as a drop of dew—and—as fleeting?
Yes, there’s a lot to do. And awareness of death—which is awareness of the sacredness of this moment—clarifies the relative importance of the items on your to-do list. Awareness of death brings into sharp relief this moment-to-moment choice: will you devote yourself to what matters most or pour your life into busy-work?

Fidelity to your heart’s deepest dream isn’t a matter of self-discipline or following a complicated task management system.
It’s more a practice of remembering that this life is jewel-like, radiant, and fleeting like the dew on a spider’s web. Try this alternative to a long and complicated to-do list:

Several times each day, pause and ask the question that poet Mary Oliver poses: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

And, I would add—“And what is a simple, direct choice that will move you in that direction?
Okay. Go do that.


About Eric Klein

Eric Klein is one of the few people on the planet who is both a lineage holder in a 5,000-year-old yoga lineage and a best-selling business book author. You can get his free ebook & guided meditation audio "The 7 Reasons Meditation Doesn't Work (and how to fix them)" at Eric has worked with over 35,000 people to infuse greater meaning, awareness, and purpose into their work and lives. His book "You are the Leader You’ve Been Waiting For" won a 2008 Nautilus Book Award for being “a world-changing book promoting positive social change and responsible leadership.” With his wife and partner Devi, Eric is also the creator of the Healing Family Karma programs and The Meditation Habit. Eric and Devi have two adult sons, a ball-obsessed pup, and live in Encinitas, California. To learn more about their work (and access free teaching videos on meditation and mantra), go to


4 Responses to “Death and the New Year.”

  1. Devacat says:

    Do New Age folks read no poetry but Mary Oliver? There's a world of better contemporary poetry; try some.

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Eric!
    Inspired me to share this one with you:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  3. elephantjournal says:

    Offer some!

  4. chonying says:

    Ashberry- self-portrait in a convex mirror.