We have all heard tales of the power of near-death experiences to make the trivialities of life pale in comparison to what is truly important.

A portion of the painting  Portrait of a man,  with a labyrinth design on his chest, by  Bartolomeo Veneto , Italy, early 16th century.

A portion of the painting Portrait of a man, with a labyrinth design on his chest, by Bartolomeo Veneto, Italy, early 16th century.

My Method

Most of us, at some point in life, desire to take especially dramatic and drastic action—to be more of who we are and follow our life’s vision. 

In my workshops and mentoring, I use a distinctive method that combines ideas and techniques inspired by hero myths, rites of passage, and current research on motivation and change—creating an individualized modern rite of passage.

I crafted this approach from extensive study of myths, rites, psychology, spirituality, and religion, as well as from many life experiences— including executing a rite of passage on myself that led to my own transformation.   

The most prominent and radical ideas in this method are death and rebirth. Every hero myth ever composed tells tales of deaths, near-deaths, and/or descents followed by resurrections, revitalizations, and/or reappearances. 

Rites of passage actually create experiences of death and rebirth, as a ritual is an enactment or performance of a myth. The prevalence of death experiences in these myths and rites—refined through the ages by wise women and men—suggests the necessity of death experiences to learn much about and live a vibrant, magical life.

Dancing Sufi dervishes, by  Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād  (c. 1480/1490)

Dancing Sufi dervishes, by Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād (c. 1480/1490)

For instance, we have all heard tales of the power of near-death experiences. My method wrestles with death—approximating a near-death experience through embracing conversations about and meditations on death. This portion of the approach is meant to jolt the soul into intense contemplation and action, knowing our time on earth is short.

Death and rebirth in these stories and rituals is also a metaphor for metamorphosis. For instance, puberty rites of passage guide a child to psychologically and spiritually transform into an adult.

During the intense rituals designed to induce the delivery of an adult, the child undergoes a death experience to awe and jolt the soul into maturity. Throughout this symbolic gestation period, the child learns about adult tribal and religious life, and their reappearance into the community is often accompanied by body modifications to emphasize the reincarnation into an adult body—circumcision, scarification, tattooing and/or a tooth removed.

In the vision quest, the quester enacts a death experience during the ritual. After the resurrection, he or she returns with an original or refreshed vision of life, and may take a new name or dress a new way. 

Another way to view this change is that death in these stories and rituals is the death of the ego or self. This is a goal in all religions and mythologies and should be a goal for all of us.

The ego is composed of the often stale beliefs we have about the world, ourselves, others, and how we should be living—often self-centered, self-protective, and limiting. The ego is the rigid, often crusty old ideas and ways of being confining our style, like a tight, brittle snakeskin longing to be shed. The ego craves to be sealed off and self-focused in its comfort zone. It is fearful of enlarging our hearts, minds, and vision because we may stop focusing on just what is best for us and ours

My method focuses on risking the death of who we think we are and who we show ourselves to be, to live who we are and follow our life’s vision.