According to Buddhist teachings, everything is impermanent, including our bodies. Our bodies are always changing. They are growing and decaying, living and dying all the time. Meditations on the body raise awareness of how this is happening right now, directly, in our own individual bodies.
I’ve done body meditations. I’ve imagined what my muscles look like when the skin is pulled back. I’ve pictured my lower intestines and bone marrow and phlegm. I’ve thought about how this body will age and decay. It creeps me out.
My discomfort stems from my own discomfort with my body. I can’t quite wrap my head around how my own body will continue to age and eventually stop working. The discomfort (read: sheer panic) of this reality is the reason to do the meditation in the first place, of course.
Cemeteries provide the same experience for meditation. On my cemetery walks, I wondered about those who lay beneath the ground. When they were still alive, did they also feel a similar discomfort, a similar panic at the thought of the body ceasing to contain life? Death came for them, as it will come for all of us.
I am still not particularly comfortable thinking about death. I suspect few of us are. At the very least, the cemetery walks raised my own awareness of my discomfort. They provided an invitation to continued contemplation. At this point, that contemplation centers on what do I want to do with the rest of my life before death comes?
I don’t have a good answer yet. Exploring the question is okay for now. It also helps me appreciate life right now, in this moment. I am alive, writing to you, maybe bumming you out but also maybe letting you know I’m thinking about these issues and maybe you are, too.