Friday, June 10, 2011

Regrets of the Dying and Zhan Zhuang Practice

In the middle of doing my Wujifa Zhan Zhuang standing practice the other morning, the morning radio DJs ran down a list of the Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware.

How do these regrets speak to me? To me, the theme of these regrets revolves around feeling and connecting.

I came from a place where I was pretty emotionally shut down and disengaged. My desire to develop internal strength led me to practice Wujifa zhan zhuang which has pushed me to feel (feeling kinesthetics, feeling emotions), and to connect (connecting kinesthetically, connecting emotionally).

Here is an excerpt from her article:
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

(Bronnie has since published these as Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing)

I resonated more with items 1, 3, and 5 than with 2 and 4. How about you?

I'm glad I heard about this list now as I was certainly on the road to having these same regrets. It's been a difficult road for me to walk this road of feeling and connecting but I'm finding life is more interesting and in a different way as I slowly change from being zombie-like to being more alive.

Feel and connect!

Happy practicing everyone!


  1. Denial — "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
    Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions and individuals that will be left behind after death.
    Anger — "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"
    Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy.
    Bargaining — "Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."
    The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."
    Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die... What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
    During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
    Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
    In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with her/his mortality or that of a loved one.

    Mr. Mike, Your smile brightens the room and your eyes flash of dreams to be discovered. Mr. Mike what are you waiting for?

  2. Mike, can you allow yourself to forgive the past and just move forward in the Now? Regrets have no purpose or function other than to help keep you stuck in the past regrets. Live the life that is with you Now. You have alot of life in you begging for permission to be lived.