Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to be Alone... the Significance of Cemeteries

I really like cemeteries. I know, not something you like to announce on the wide web. But I do. Not the newer, shinier cemeteries, the really old ones that have crumbly tombstones and trees.

This definitely predates my vampire-werewolf fantasy novel obsession or my True Blood addiction.

Until a few weeks ago, it was just a weird thought as I'd glance by cemeteries as we walked or drove past. Walking around alone was really beyond my comfort zone. One weekend I managed to convince Andrew to humour me as we toured through one of Halifax's 200-300 year old cemetery on Barrington Street. It wasn't unquestioned though and I found myself having to articulate just how 'uncreepy' my reasons for liking these old crumbly cemeteries were.

I love walking through and feeling like there is a piece of history surrounding me. Seeing the names and dates of people who lived hundreds of years ago. Their families and grandchildren most likely passed along to the next life with no one to visit or to remember them.

The older the tombstone, the more beautiful the hand-carved artwork that graces the front. These tombstones that we erect in order to be remembered in a few short hundred years crumble and the names wear away. It reminds me just how temporary my existence will be. No matter my ability to erect a large, expensive stone shrine to my life in a few short generations you won't even be able to read my name. This element of humanness makes my impermanence that much more real than an old building or statue.

These older cemeteries are quiet, usually on uneven ground with trees and shrubbery. It feels hidden and peaceful. Like a secret sanctuary in the middle of a bustling, noisy, smelly city. Combined with a feeling of insignificance I have moments of reflection. Of re-evaluating what is stressing me out lately, as it no longer seems that catastrophic. If people wouldn't have me committed, I would love to practice yoga in a history cemetery. But they'd probably call a padded vehicle...

This video was filmed in Halifax by local artists. I love her voice, the art and her poetry. Weirdly enough it exactly inhibits the feeling I get in an old, beautiful cemetery. Maybe you don't share this connection, but I hope you enjoy the video... because sometimes we all need to just *be*. Without external distraction. Just with ourselves.

Many Blessings!

article copyright of EcoYogini at



  1. I've seen this posted all over FB (by yoga friends of course!). I don't have a problem being alone (traveling for 18 months by yourself will get you over that!) but i think nowadays i neep to "stop hanging out with my cell phone"!!

  2. I LOVE, LOVE walking through a cemetery. It's not something I broadcast to everyone but since you've mentioned it, well.... I might as well confess here on the WWW with you. It gives me extreme peace and calmness. I could walk in a cemetery in the middle of the night and I would'nt be scared at all. And yes, I also love being alone (most of the time) or I should say that I ''prefer'' to be alone than to be with a crowd.

  3. I'll do cemetery yoga with you. :) I too love old graveyards. I once made grave rubbings for a typography class, and I left apple pieces on each grave whose stone I made a rubbing of. I did the same thing in another cemetery on Halloween (Samhain for the pagan-inclined). I hadn't thought about that in a while...maybe I'll do it again this year. Blessings!

  4. I also love cemetaries! I don't think it's anything all that unusual, really. But I guess a lot of people nowadays are so disconnected from death that their only perceptions of cemetaries come from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and such things.

    I have always felt that cemetaries are places of love, not places of fear. They are places where the souls still in this world come to commune with those passed on.

    If you are looking for me, I can be found wandering around old (and new) gravestones with a box of tissues...

  5. I also LOVE old cemetaries...when my girls were very young and we were traveling we would stop and picnic in cemetaries. It was a perfect stop for kids and peaceful as parents.

    Now I enjoy doing yoga in my town cemetary. I like to walk out and just be...thanks:)

  6. this is a fabulous video! love it! i too love old cemeteries. just SO much history there. i'd definitely do cemetery yoga. :) hugs!!

  7. Yep, I love them too. Don't think it's creepy at all except for the time my sister and i got lost in one in Rome at dusk - HUGE sprawling place and with lots of photos on these gigantic headstones and little LED like candle flames - that was a little weird. Buddhists meditate on death 'in situ' so I guess yoga in a graveyard should really not be so strange... never really thought about it like that... you might be on to something :)

  8. I learned to drive in a cemetery and would bike to one near my old apartment to hang out. They are designed to be peaceful places, and anyone can appreciate the beauty of huge, old trees, winding pathways and the calm that occurs within those gates.

  9. I love cemeteries. Thinking about the people who gone before me, and where I am now. You get a real sense of time and space, and the waiting game that is life.

  10. Thank you for sharing this video - I really like it. I love being alone, I get really really grumpy if I don't get some serious alone time. And walking in the woods? one of my favourite pastimes.

  11. J'adore cemeteries also! See you're not alone! I love to look at the names on the gravestones and make up stories about their lives.

  12. I absolutely share your love of cemeteries. I grew up just down the road from a very large cemetery, and I often went walking in it alone and later, when I took up running, went running there and in another cemetery near work. They are pleasant, quiet places and give me a feeling of serenity. I also like reading the old tombstones. I don't see any reason to be hesitant about admitting this- I've done so and haven't gotten any strange looks but then maybe my friends are odd....

  13. 1. I love cemeteries, too. Everyone thought it was so odd that I could not go to Paris without seeing the three big cemeteries. B & I actually got up at 6AM on our last day just to run to one of them before the Louvre opened! (He's such a good sport.) But it was so worth it.

    2. This video made me cry. So beautiful.

  14. See, your interest in cemeteries isn't unusual. I like them, too. And I keep meaning to do a bit of photography in the one that's really only around the corner from where I live. It's quite interesting!

    Nothing wrong with yoga in cemeteries, either. Sure, some people could have a problem with that. But just remember, yoga is for the dead, too. Okay, that's a little esoteric, perhaps. But still true!

    And that video is gorgeous :)

  15. Love the video, had just read about it in The Coast today in their review of Eat Pray Love!

    PS any more thoughts/discoveries on yoga mats?

  16. well- who knew?? I thought I was going to get a lot of 'well that is... interesting...' comments haha.

    I am not alone! :)

    Anon: the yoga mat discoveries have slowed down a bit. haven't seen or read anything new that I haven't covered in the 'eco-yoga mat' tags.

    but then, I haven't been in lulu or bhavana for a while...

    maybe this nice sunny saturday?? i'm not sure i can brave the masses

  17. I love the peaceful quietness of cemeteries! I agree, the older the better. The ancient cemeteries in Europe are beautiful and amazing. I say enjoy to your heart's content!

  18. oooh i love this.


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