Celebration of Impermanence
"It is not impermanence that makes us suffer.
What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent
when they are not."
Thich Nhat Hanh
What is it about change that seems to cause so much fear in people? If you've lived long enough, you probably know the truth that, everything eventually changes and ends. Nothing sticks around forever, no matter how painful or pleasurable the mind may judge it to be. Have you noticed? Seasons come and go, relationships begin and end, jobs and places where we live are here and gone, and yet we try to deny this reality by holding tightly to what is passing, and through this clinging, create unending pain and suffering for ourselves. We try desperately to keep things from changing, yet despite our exhausting efforts, everything changes anyway. If we are fortunate, we begin to see that, it is not what changes that causes our unhappiness, but the resistance to change that creates so much anxiety and fear in our lives. In this resistance, we cut ourselves off from the natural state of joy and peace that are always available when we turn to the spaciousness and stillness within.
One of the practices we can engage in to make friends with the Truth of impermanence, is to actually relax and allow whatever is changing to be, without trying to push it away. Instead of habitually focusing on whatever changes we are going through, we can instead begin to focus our attention on the unchanging space of awareness within which all the changes are taking place. We can consciously direct our attention to the openness and stillness in the body, and allow the mind to rest in the silence within. This allows us to clearly see that every transition we have ever gone through has brought, in it's wake, something new and fresh into our lives. For instance, the old dysfunctional relationship gives way to meeting the love of your life, or losing that soul-sucking job leads you to discover the most fulfilling work you have ever done. Not only that, there is an even bigger gift that impermanence gives us; it reminds us on a daily basis that the people and circumstances in our lives are not here forever, and to wake up and appreciate them while they are happening, rather than waiting till they are long gone.
Constant change is a reality that pushes us to be present in the Here and Now and to actually SEE what is in front of us, and most importantly, to be grateful for it, knowing it will one day pass. We learn that, instead of grasping - in vain - and attempting to hold on to what is bound to pass, if we open our hands to let go of what is ending, we can receive the new gifts that are always flowing into our lives. In the acceptance and celebration of change, we move into the perfect flow of the Tao, and open to its vast wisdom and blessings. In this flowing with WHAT IS, we find the joy that is only available in the present moment, the joy that is available in every changing circumstance, and the security of living in the reality of constant change.
"If you realize that all things change,
there is nothing you will try and hold on to."