Embracing Impermanence

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To embrace impermanence and accept that the only constant is change, we need to compassionately address our attachments and our propensities to cling and to grasp. We’re wired to seek safety and security in our environment and with other people, so be kind to yourself as you explore these human tendencies.

Some things to notice:

  • How do you feel when you lose an item that belongs to you? Aside from the monetary loss, is there an emotional attachment? If so, sit with that feeling. Where is it in your body? What does it remind you of? Is it familiar or foreign to you? Why is that?
  • When a key personal relationship ends or changes, how do you respond? In addition to potential grief, heartache, or loss, are you holding on to an idea about the relationship? What does it feel like in your body? What other thoughts, feelings, or memories come up? Are any of them surprising to you? Why?
  • If important life plans are suddenly changed, how do you respond? What’s the first emotion and the first thought? Where do they come from? What or who does your internal voice sound like?

The Only Constant is Change

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Just when we think things are settling in and a period of change is over, here comes yet another unexpected shift. It may be in our personal life, on the world stage, or in our family or community. Sometimes, it’s in more than one place. Change is everywhere! Over the last few years, there has been major, earth-shifting change in all areas of my life. I’d like to say that I’m used to it, but it still surprises me. This steady stream of change has taught me to allow people, things, jobs, homes, ideas, beliefs, and more to come and go. When I begin to cling to something, I invite suffering (looks like the Buddha was right about that one).

Nothing on this earth is promised to me, or to you. We can have legal ownership over things, partnership agreements with people, and a sense of belonging to places, but none of that comes with a guarantee. What seemed to be ours one moment, like the sunhat I wore on a river trip this summer, can quickly disappear and, in this example, be swallowed up by moving water. 

Knowing this, we can practice presence, savoring, gratitude, and focused awareness. We can be here now, knowing that it’s truly the only moment and that change, like it or not, is always on the horizon.

Being With What Is

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The Buddhist concept of hopelessness means to look to the present as it is instead of looking to the past or future with fear or hope. It asks us to be with what is, as it is. To do this, we must cultivate feelings of neutrality and equanimity. Being with what is means that:

  • We allow our present moment experience without judgement.
  • We notice our thoughts, feelings, and sensations as an observer.
  • We release attachment to making things different.
  • We notice our emotional response with kindness and curiosity.
  • We allow ourselves to feel how we feel without self-criticism or attachment.
  • We recognize the transient nature of our experience.

The Art of Surrender

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It takes a great deal of strength and courage to allow life to be as it is,  and equal amounts of awareness to notice when we’re resisting the simple reality of our experience. Many of us resist as a matter of course. We’re trying to make things a certain way. We’re working, we’re efforting, we’re creating, or so we think. Sometimes, all of the effort and puzzling out gets in the way of life’s natural unfolding. We’re so busy trying to change or create, that we aren’t able to take in what’s right in front of us. We miss important information and enriching experiences. Mindfulness helps us slow down and be in the present moment so that we’re better able to take in and savor the goodness of life, and also to notice when opportunity is ripe. There’s less efforting and exertion when we surrender to the present and trust that all will be well.

Mindfulness and Emotions

Through mindfulness practice, we can learn to be with our emotions, to allow them space, and to also allow them to move through our awareness without becoming attached to them. In this video, I share how to mindfully work with repressed emotions and/or attachment to emotions. I also explain the concept of emotional back draft and how, once we learn to allow emotions to pass through our experience, we make more room for the good to grow.

Begin Again


In mindfulness meditation, we always have the option to begin again. Mindfulness isn’t a practice to master, it’s one to explore and it’s best explored with an open and pliable mind, much like the mind of a beginner. When we’re meditating and become distracted, we return to the breath and the body, and we do this with the humble awareness of a beginner. Every time we begin again, we create an opportunity to learn something new about the practice and ourselves. We set aside our attachments to figuring this mindfulness thing out, and we allow our curiosity to lead the way. How might practice be different this time? How long will I be able to hold my attention on my breath before it’s swept away with thoughts? Will a dormant memory or emotion surface? Will I start to get all numb and tingly and annoyed? If so, how will I respond this time? To be a beginner means to accept that we are learning, which is the optimal state of mind when approaching mindfulness mediation, for it has something new to teach us every time we sit.