Impermanence

I remember a lecture we had when I was doing my yoga teachers training.  Every day we would do a yoga “theory” class where Swami Mahadevananda would talk about the principles of living a yogic life.  One class in particular really struck a cord and made an impression on me.  I guess I had a lightbulb moment about life.

Swami was talking about Impermanence.  He asked “What lasts forever?”  Our quite class sat and pondered.  He asked “In 100 years, will this microphone stand be here?”  About the place we were at he asked, “What about this temple?”  ‘The trees and animals outside?”  “Will you be here?”  The obvious answer was no.  Again he finally asked “What lasts forever?”

From The Five Things We Cannot Change”  by David Richo, he writes on page 3:

The first given of life is that changes and endings are inevitable for any person, relationship, enthusiasm, or thing.  Nothing is perfect, permanently satisfying, or permanently anything.  Everything falls apart in time.  Every beginning leads to a finale.

When it comes to the realities of life, this is a hard one to accept.  I have often wanted to freeze time, a fun moment, a happy moment.  In these moments I was protected from suffering.

I have often wanted to forever keep someone or something so dear to me because I felt comfort and familiarity.  I used to want certain situations or people to stay the same and never change because I thought this would provide security.  I thought that by doing all this I could prevent feeling a sense of loss and sadness.

Holding off change and resisting the end of things seemed to create comfort, but brought a tremendous amount of stress with the worry of “what if.”  The stronger I resisted, the greater the stress.

When I heard Swami Mahadevananda speak of the universal impermanence in life, I realized that it was part of all life.  When I accept change, and navigate through change in life, I too could change and evolve as a person.  When I accepted that everything must come to an end at some time, I could more fully deal with the difficulty of loss through grieving and build inner strength.

I am human and there are times when embracing change and loss are more difficult than others, but deep in my core, I understand and accept impermanence as a fundamental part of life.  And… there are days that I welcome it.  Now that this acceptance has been part of my life for some time, I know it’s a good thing to break the mould, stir the pot, break out of a comfort zone, bring on evolution.  This cultivates wisdom through new insight and new beginnings.

Finally, through accepting this given in life, I have also been able to make peace with my body aging, the unforeseen and unexpected that has come my way, broken keepsakes, broken friendships, loosing family members who have passed, memories and special things lost along the way, the unattainable wants and needs, the state of our earth’s environment, my son growing up, and the list goes on and on.

Here are a couple exerpts from “The Five Things We Cannot Change: Chapter 1 – Everything Changes and Ends” by David Richo.

From page 3:

Our relationships pass through phases, from romance through struggle to commitment.  Then they end with death or separation.  Our interest in hobbies or careers passes over a bell-shaped curve of rising interest, cresting, and decline.  Our bodies age.  Our possessions deteriorate.  Our memories wane.  The world of nature changes too.  Species of animals disappear.  Earthquakes realign the continental plates.  Seasons change.  Even the rose will fade after her stunning debut.

From page 10 (about the Five Givens in life):

Every given insults the ego that wants to believe it has full control.  Yes is acceptance; control is refusal.  We can learn to accept the fact that we are sometimes helpless to stop an unwelcome change in our lives.  That acceptance, paradoxically, ushers in serenity.

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