Impermanence is the only guarantee in life! Let’s take a look at the following and understand the importance of impermanence in life.
Everything is susceptible to change, everything transforms. Nothing lasts forever.
“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.
I still remember that day when I walked into the Vipassana Center in Jaipur, India – and I had no idea how my life was gonna change in the next 10 days.
Vipassana is a form of meditation that can be translated as “insight” – a clear awareness of exactly what is happening as it happens – to see things as they are.
It is an observation-based, self-exploratory journey that focuses on the deep interconnection between the mind, body, and soul, which is realized through disciplined attention to the physical sensations.
Over those 10 days, when we are asked not to talk to anyone, touch, or even look into another person’s eyes – we realized the importance of ‘breathing’ and the importance of living in the moment.
You must be wondering why I’m talking about vipassana meditation when this article is supposed to be about ‘impermanence’ – well, needless to say, my concept of the latter was sowed during those 10 days.
We were taught how every breath we take is unique and once gone, it’s never gonna come back. No two breaths are the same – just as no two moments can be the same. Life is all about ‘impermanence’ and all we have for ourselves is this moment – NOW.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize how important it is to focus on the concept of impermanence in life and to accept that what we have now, might not be there in the next moment.
And in the current scenario, when the entire world is dealing with a pandemic, I’m sure all of us at some point or the other, are getting more conscious about how we took life for granted and everything turned upside down because of the virus.
Well, this too shall pass – ‘coz as Buddhism reiterates, ‘Change is the only constant’.
We want things to stay exactly as they are because permanence feels like security. Not that isn’t gonna happen. ‘Everything changes and nothing lasts forever.’
Everything from our emotions to our thoughts and feelings, from the cells in our bodies to the plants around us, is changing and decaying continuously. Even our views change and evolve as we grow.
Growing old, losing a loved one, getting fired, getting divorced, meeting with an accident, or suffering an unexpected financial loss — any of these can happen when you least expect it, maybe in the middle of a family vacation or during a regular day at work.
We have to learn to roll with the punches and face it with all our strength, rather than continue to reel under them and keep asking – “Why did this happen to me?”
The question is: how can we deal with impermanence in our day to day lives?
1. Accept impermanence as normal
COVID-19 has brought home to us the fickleness of our plans and the impermanence in our lives. Events postponed, travels canceled, economy tanking, jobs lost, and we are only at the beginning of what could be a long period of uncertainty.
Planning for permanence will create more anxiety. Be prepared for change and work towards embracing whatever change comes your way. Being patient helps you think clearly and overcome a challenging situation.
2. Sharing and letting go
On today’s date, nearly 7 out of 10 people are suffering from mild to moderate anxiety issues – and that’s because we are unable to understand what exactly we are seeking from life and constantly being unhappy with what’s not happening, rather than focusing on the little things of happiness.
People often want to escape from anxiety, anger, and sadness. It is important to adjust to life’s changes in a healthy way by allowing ourselves to feel, get involved with support groups, talk to people we trust, or seek therapy if it’s really needed.
The same applies to a positive experience: sharing it helps everyone and you never know when or how you can motivate someone to live better.
3. Find opportunity in impermanence
Every situation whether painful or joyful carries a hidden opportunity to be turned into something wonderful for yourself and others.
I remember when my mother passed away, a friend told me – “Death of a close one either makes or breaks life. You have to choose whether you wanna make it or break it.” His words kept echoing in my ears for days, as I was trying to gather myself up and accept the loss.
Eventually, I figured out that I need to be the best human that my mother would love to see me like. The point basically is, that if we are able to convert our ups and down into purpose, by serving others, we can find meaning in our lives.
To quote what Rumi said, “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.”
4. Be thankful, every day
Amidst the chaos and cacophony of our regular lives, we often skip the feeling of gratitude. But just take a moment and think – how wonderful it is to wake up to this beautiful morning and feel alive, for not many are as blessed as we are.
Today is a wonderful day that’s never gonna come back ever in our lives, so be thankful – not just for today, but for every day.
Be thankful for all the little things that are happening, to all the people who are adding some meaning to your day, to all the thoughts that are keeping you alive, to the food that’s satiating your hunger, for the air that you’re getting to the breath – the sense of gratitude will definitely make you feel profound and calm, as you appreciate things more.
In order to make this a habit, the best option is to maintain a gratitude journal – where you can pen down your thoughts and on dull days, you can turn the pages to look back and smile.
5. Treat life as finite
Death, perhaps, is the common cause of fear in the human mind and we all, at some point or other, think of losing our loved ones. Or what will happen to people close to us when we die? Well, trust me when I say this – life goes on.
Nothing stops for anyone and that’s perhaps the beauty of it. The only way that we can lessen our pain intrinsically attached to the thought of death, is by accepting and treating life as finite.
Know that you, and everyone around you, is destined to live for a certain period of time, and there’ no such thing as ‘forever’.
Circumstances will not turn out the way you want them to, and it’s perfectly all right. Embracing the situation can help you deal with the change effectively, make the necessary shifts in your life to embrace the change, and help you move forward.
Life does move on. Look back only to see how far you’ve come. Sure, take a moment to enjoy some nostalgia, to miss people and places, but you can’t dwell there or you run the risk of becoming a ghost yourself.
The fact you are here, wherever that is for you right now, is because you have more to accomplish, more to contribute.
Embrace impermanence, you’ll be pleased you did 🙂