The Beauty of Impermanence
Despite having been born in October, when I was a kid I remember the intense resistance I felt when the leaves would start falling from the trees. It made me feel sad and lonely, and I had no desire to welcome winter. It evoked the palpable sensations of scarcity, death, and isolation (perhaps that’s subconsciously why I moved to LA. Nothing really changes here).
My disapproval for the change in seasons is synonymous with many of our distress regarding natural life instabilities. In my situation, I was resisting a seasonal shift, which is pretty much unanimously agreed upon as an ordinary phenomenon.
Eventually as I grew up, I gained more understanding around the cycles of the seasons and that imminent feeling of fear dissipated. However, my ability to smoothly navigate the various and inevitable fluctuations of life only became easier when I applied yoga and mindfulness philosophies to my experiences.
Despite our intellectual knowledge regarding the inarguable facts that day turns into night, we were once little babies and are surely different now, relationships have come and gone, and death is a fact, many of us still grasp onto a feeling that change is something to be prevented or controlled in some specific way. It is not!
The more we resist change, the less life actually moves through us. The less alive we are. Our routines are the illusions we create to keep us from experiencing more of what life has to offer.
I like to think of my physical experience as an opportunity for universal life force energy to dance through me. Our purpose will be revealed only when we allow nature to move through us and guide us.
Knowing that things are impermanent is one thing, however feeling and fully understanding is another. One of the most profound teachings I have experienced to date is by Krishnamurti, who literally teaches us how to die so that we do not suffer. When I refer to ‘die’ I mean, die to the past. It is our attachment to ‘the way things were’ that keeps us in a bondage… in a jail of sorts. When we operate this way, we do not have the vision to see what’s ahead since we are so afraid of losing what was. Some of us will even reside in a highly uncomfortable situation purely to avoid the ‘what-ifs’ of the future.
‘Who will I be without that relationship?’ –There is fear. We do not know ourselves outside of our mind-created constructs.
This brings me to the next collectively accepted norm: the fear of death. What are we afraid of when we die? Perhaps we are afraid of losing the things, relationships, status and memories we have accumulated. But are we scared of death itself? How can we be, since we do not know it? We have not yet experienced it. It is an unknown. It may be a great thing. It may be just as natural and as beautiful and magnificent as a season changing.
In order to understand and potentially even adapt to celebrate impermanence, a few things must be in place. First we must cultivate present-moment awareness. We must use our own consciousness to create more curiosity around this important topic. Without consciousness, we are likely to operate mechanically and habitually. Second, we must practice gentle ways of letting go to what is no longer alive in our lives in order to gracefully transition to the next chapter. It can be almost as fear provoking as the concept of death itself. Letting go of an old version of ourselves, to old material items that no longer serve us, to an old belief system, an unfulfilling job, etc. It can feel like death, because it is. And if we do not practice now, our waking lives will be burdened with a subconscious and very heavy fear of the very thing we are longing for — Freedom.
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