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.

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.

How to Practice Self-Compassion

 

Self-compassion, like mindfulness, is a practice. For many of us it may not come easy and may even seem totally foreign. There’s strong evidence in the research to support self-compassion as a reliable way to build inner resources and strengthen our sense of self and belonging.

In this video, I discuss self-compassion and teach a simple 3-step practice for directing loving kindness towards oneself.