This pause led me to revisit past contemplative practices about the concept of impermanence. Everything has an expiration date. With material things, the topic of impermanence can be very liberating because truly embodying it frees us from holding on so tight. Yet when we're the subject of impermanence, we run into hiding.
Like most people, I understand the fear of death. I also understand what's under fear and that the way past it is through. My own work on developing resilience has forced me to face many dragons in life. I went to Tara Mandala retreat center as a Living Dharma Volunteer in Pagosa Springs, CO a few years ago to, among other things, experience Feeding Your Demons. The concept speaks for itself - invite, rather than run from your demons (or use whatever word resonates for you.) Freedom is on the other side.
It was and continues to be a transformative practice.
What I appreciate about life's impermanence is what it teaches us about how to live. Stark reminders about what really matters and what we can do live in alignment with our highest priorities. To me, this inspires re-examining how we spend our time. Not only what we do, but how we show up in life.
While there wasn't enough time to directly connect with my uncle in New Jersey, I wrote a letter to my uncle in FL. I wanted him to know what kind of impact he had on my life, how he made a difference. It started with learning he was my godfather, and how that felt like such an honor, as though I had angel wings out there looking out for me, just in case. There were many heart filling memories in the middle, like teaching me how to ride a two wheel bike. I'll never forget that exhilarating feeling of staying up! It was the first experience I remember of shifting from "I can't" to "I can." Cycling has since grown into such a source of joy in my life, so I wanted my uncle to know how much that mattered.
The letter ended with deep gratitude for his inspiration, love, light and heartfelt wishes for him to feel peace.
What's at the root of unease around impermanence is not being ok with change, loss, and our relentless protection against any deficit or disturbance. You might understandably say, of course, who wants to experience those things? The truth is, in life, you will. The art is in how you're being along the way. That relentless drive to protect against loss or disturbance takes us out of living in the present. It's mental time travel - anticipating the future, or ruminating about the past. When you're busy over there, who's being over here?
This isn't to suggest we dismiss responsibility. Of course, it's important and necessary to take care of our affairs and basic fundamental needs. But once that's done, let them go and rest in satisfaction.
Remember, it isn't a situation that's problematic, it's our relationship with it. What's under the fear of any conflict is unmet need(s). Unpack that and experience life more fully.
Three fundamental needs we share as humans include: safety, satisfaction and connection. Experiencing a deficit or disturbance in any of these areas usually results in feelings of inadequacy, or what I like to call "not-enoughness." Believing your thoughts about not measuring up is what drives behaviors like chasing after shiny objects, cravings, addictions, and the like. We've all been there in some capacity...
To be sure, making the u-turn is a process, and the path isn't always smooth or straight. But it's one of the most important ones in life. A simple start is to pause and check-in with how you're showing up in the world, your quality of being.
This is a fitting skillful inquiry process I love from Tara Brach. Contact me or visit my Resources page for more:
"If you had a year to live, what would you do? How would you live? What would matter most?
If you had a month to live, what would you do? How would you live? What would most matter?
If you had a day to live, how would you want to move through your experience?
If you had an hour to live, what would most matter?
If you had a few moments to live, what would matter most?
And just letting that matter right now…"
Marinating in what matters most is necessary for hardwiring it into your body. The process shifts temporary states to lasting traits. This strengthens our resilience and overall
May you live fully, starting today, and inspire others to do the same.
Experience "marinating in the good" to shift temporary (mental) states to lasting (neural) traits by registering for my workshop, "Hardwiring Joy, Resilience and Well-Being"
June 23rd from 4-7 PM at A2 Yoga.
Or join one of my restorative yoga classes at A2 Yoga: 2030 Commerce Blvd in Ann Arbor, Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30 PM. I also offer tailored, private instruction.