Corpse Pose & the Fear of Being Human
by Maria Borghoff
In all the ways that we cling to life, our culture is obsessed with death.
We exhaust ourselves in the pursuit of productivity and success, yet we still lose sleep. We focus on chasing a state of perfection, then we marvel at how quickly time is passing. It’s not just the physical act of dying that captivates our attention, with all its messiness and glory. It’s the fear of being annihilated and the possible destruction of our personal identity. We are attached to the idea of living yet averted by what it means to actually be alive.
Because the life cycle requires a continual process of dying and being reborn.
Savasana, known in Yoga as Corpse pose, is literally the practice of dying. We gloss over this concept by explaining how Savasana is a “final resting posture,” using relaxation to help your body absorb the physical and energetic benefits of breathing and stretching. This is completely accurate, but Savasana is also the perfect opportunity for us to better understand our own relationship with death. Why?
Because our ability to relax into the unknown is a metaphor for how we our life.
This human experience that we are having is a gift. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t know it was coming, and we have no way of telling where it will take us. When someone hands you a package that is mysteriously wrapped, you are either delighted in the potential discovery or you are frightened by what you might find. Most people follow the latter reaction, because our survival instinct is incredibly strong. Our physical, mental and emotional systems are hardwired to seek security and inhabit places that feel safe.
But in order to experience the ecstasy of life unfolding in beautiful and unexpected ways, we must let go of our need to know. In order to be reborn, we must drop our walls of defense and trust the wisdom that is within us and all around.
Because the fear of being human will only obstruct our spiritual path.
Of course, our fears are never working alone. Abhinivesa (the fear of annihilation) comes from a lack of understanding, or Avidya (ignorance). Instead of fruitlessly trying to rid ourselves of fear, which will never be fully abolished as long as we are human, let’s turn our energy towards asking honest questions and increasing our awareness. When there are obstacles standing in the way of you becoming the person you want to be, the solution lies in your ability to surrender and emerge as the person you already are.