Death’s Door: Undefended at the Threshold- Amy Rhett interviews Kim Rosen
Why were you drawn to explore this theme of death and dying?
I have always been drawn to the mystery of death. My first poem, when I was in third grade, was about death. The inner summons, I think, was to the nakedness of soul that emerges at the threshold, a nakedness that dissolves all our masks and compels us to meet ourselves and each other revealed in our humanness and our beingness at once – whether we are losing a loved one, a way of being, or our own physical bodies.
Recently, I have been exposed to a number of different workshops on death. What I noticed is that these workshops tend to be focused on either the practical aspects of dying – health care proxies, and what one’s wishes would be in the event of becoming incapacitated – or on how to self-nourish when one is caring for the dying. But I didn’t see any opportunity being offered for participants to meet and allow the deep and powerful feelings, revelations, openings and struggles that accompany facing death. That is what I hope to offer.
Is that what you hope to help others develop – that capacity to meet these “small deaths?”
Yes. My mother recently passed away. In her last years, she experienced extreme suffering that was intensified, and sometimes possibly created, by her unwillingness to accept the demise of her own body. Until just before the end, she could not bear recognizing that her body and the things around her were mortal, were losable. A piece of furniture that became scratched and old was really upsetting to her and was quickly refinished. So when her body got old and broke down, she hated it and felt betrayed. Through the medical system she fought it as long as she could. The moment she let go of the struggle and consciously chose to turn towards her own death changed everything. It was as if she finally became her real self, not this desperate, angry, bitter victim. That moment transformed not only my mother but everyone around her.
Witnessing her suffering has really informed my passion for facing the transience of my own body and all I love, and learning to welcome all the feelings that go along with letting go. Whether I’ve lost a favorite pen, or the firmness of my belly, or my best friend, I want to be able to meet the experience undefended and alive.
I can’t always do this, but when I do, I experience that in the heart of the surrender is an always surprising and utterly mysterious doorway to deep peace and happiness. If there is a formula for happiness — or even success — on this Earth plane, this is it: you will thrive to the extent you are willing to open to the ‘daily deaths” that come with things not going your way.
Think about the areas of your life where you thrive, and the areas where you struggle. Is it not your resilience around loss and defeat that makes the difference? Is it not your willingness to “die” the everyday little deaths? For me, there is a resilience in some areas of my life, vocation for instance, that comes directly from being willing to allow the many small deaths and defeats that are part of a flow of life that I trust deeply. And in other areas, where I have not developed the willingness to “die”, I have been known to be completely shattered when I meet a challenge and spiral into hopelessness that is really not based in reality.
Tell us a bit about your approach and how you developed that.
I have been fascinated by the art of creating group environments that invite direct experience of powerful inner states and feelings that lead to transformation since I was about 16 years old when I began exploring my leadership as a director in the theatre. Today I weave threads of forty years of discipleship to various spiritual teachings and psychological wisdom with a reverence for the natural movements of feeling and energy through the body and an ever deepening exploration of silence, stillness and pure being. Core Energetics, dance, spoken poems, music, breathwork and nondual teachings are some of the elements of my medicine bag.
Each element in the medicine bag has its role: poetry unlocks the mind; dance and movement disorient the body and loosen its armor; writing carries us to new awareness; and breathwork allows us to open directly to the itinerary of the soul, beyond the mind’s agenda or defense.
FREE RECORDED PROGRAM
Death’s Door: An Introduction
Kim Rosen earned a B.A. from Yale University and an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has been published in O Magazine, The Sun Magazine, Spirituality and Health Magazine, The Huffington Post, Feminist.com, HealYourLife.com and The Texas Review among others, and she was a recipient of the 2001 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry. She is the author of Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words. Kim’s CDs, Only Breath, The Fire and The Rose, Vesica (all with composer/cellist Jami Sieber), and Naked Waters (with composer/pianist Cathie Malach and producer Peter Kater), are innovative interweavings of spoken poetry and music. In 2010 Kim founded the Safe House Education (S.H.E.) Fund to give Maasai girls who have fled Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Early Childhood Marriage an opportunity to go to college and transform the oppression of women in their tribe and the world. In 2012, she founded the Mystery School and Soul School, multi-dimensional immersions in self revelation through the portals of beauty, poetry, silence, music, movement and radical authenticity in a community of shared intention.