Death meditation is a mindfulness practice where people wrap themselves up as mummies and picture their dead bodies to help come to terms with their eventual death.
It’s not everyone's idea of a chill Saturday morning, but it’s taken social media by storm. There’s over 2.5 million views on TikTok and thousands of posts on Instagram.
It may seem like a new idea, but like all wellness practices co-opted by wealthy people, it has ancient roots.
Some of these practices are based on particular Buddhist traditions. For example, Maranasati (death awareness), which reminds participants they could die at any moment and should be prepared.
It teaches that death is not a scary concept, rather it is a natural process, and thinking about it can lead to a more positive outlook.
Another death meditation practice involves visualising the body's inevitable decay to let go of attachments to the material world.
In more intense sessions, participants wrap themselves in sheets or write their own eulogies to read out loud to a group.
Others take part in a “living funeral ceremony”, based on the “happy dying” program from South Korea.
This involves participants writing their last words, viewing their memorial photo and lying inside a coffin to meditate.
Research suggests that anxiety and fear around death has become more prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Death meditation can help overcome these fears by forcing patients to confront them.
Due to its sensitive nature, if you think the practice is for you, please consult a professional and not TikTok.