Everything changes all the time: our bodies, other people and the world around us. In fact, change and impermanence are the fundamental realities of our lives. Change is often painful, so typically we resist it, and that can cause all sorts of problems.
Mindfulness practice helps each of us to see how we respond to life’s uncertainty. We are more able to explore how our reactions can lead us into difficult states on mind such as stress, anxiety and depression. Mindfulness also helps us to accept impermanence and even embrace it.
Here are some exercises that explore change and how it affects us. These are quite potent and you if you think you will find … Read more »
There’s a 50/50 chance that you made some New Year resolutions a couple of months ago; there’s an even better chance that you’ve already abandoned them. Or perhaps you’re one of the people who never makes New Year resolutions because you’ve learned through experience that they’re forgotten almost as soon as they’re created.
Whether we make resolutions or not, we see each new year as an opportunity for new beginnings: not just new years, but new months, new weeks, and new days. Our lives are full of new beginnings. But the most significant new beginnings take place at a much finer scale.
When we meditate, for example, we’re forever catching the mind having gone off … Read more »
Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love Lodro Rinzler, Huffington Post: A Buddhist teacher I respect a great deal once proclaimed a warning about meditation: Don’t do it unless you’re willing to change. If you’re one of the two gazillion people aiming to launch a meditation practice in this new year, please heed that warning. But here is the good news about that warning: You will change for the better.
It’s that time of year when self-reflection is at an all-time high, so I shouldn’t be surprised at my wall. It’s covered in all the various activity …
I often hear from people who are worried because their meditation practice doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I think it’s good to be aware of the different ways that change happens when we meditate since your practice hitting a plateau may not be a problem, but just part of a natural process.
Sometimes change happens rapidly. This may happen early on, or at any point in your practice. One striking example was told to me by a friend who owns a health club. One of his employees was very prickly and hard to work with, but my friend realize that this woman had really mellowed out, almost overnight. She was now relaxed and friendly. … Read more »
Jack Kornfield, in his lovely Buddha’s Little Instruction Book, says “The trouble is, you think you have time.” He doesn’t say what we don’t have time for, but presumably he means that we put off important things because we assume that we can do them later. The trouble is, there may not be any “later.”
Recognizing that our time here is short can help us appreciate life more. I opened my book, Living as a River, by discussing how an awareness of impermanence can enhance our appreciation of our loved ones. When married people were asked to reflect on the death of their (still living) spouse, they found that they could more easily overlook … Read more »
As I wrote in my book, Living as a River:
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Relating to someone as a “self”—on the basis of how we see them right now—is like seeing a video reduced to a single frame, or seeing a ball hurtling through the air in a freeze-frame photograph. It’s life-denying. It’s a static way of seeing things. In taking a snapshot of a thing we lose its sense of trajectory, the sense that it’s headed somewhere. We’re disconnected from the reality of change and process. But imagine if we could consistently see a person not as a thing but as a process—if we could, at least in our imagination—see that person evolving towards wisdom and compassion.
In the Google Plus Community that I’ve set up for people who have a connection with my work (my classes, my CDs, MP3s, books, Wildmind, etc.) we discuss our practice. It’s turned out to be a very supportive and inspiring community. My own practice has benefitted a lot, and as I put it this morning in a post there, “We’re all each other’s teachers.”
Someone in the community said they’d been reflecting on impermanence, and that led me to write a few words about the various ways that I reflect about impermanence in meditation. Here’s what I wrote:
I reflect on impermanence at different degrees of resolution. Here they are, roughly in order:
The truth of anything is like a mosaic with many tiles, many parts.
One part of the truth of things is that they are robust and enduring, whether it’s El Capitan in Yosemite or the love of a child for her mother and father.
Another part of the truth is that things bruise, tear, erode, disperse, or end – fundamentally, they’re fragile. Speaking of El Capitan, I knew of someone climbing it who had just placed anchors above a long horizontal crack when the sheet of granite he was standing on broke off to fall like a thousand-ton pancake to the valley floor below (he lived, clutching his anchors). Love and other feelings often change … Read more »
Things keep changing. The clock ticks, the day unfolds, trees grow, leaves turn brown, hair turns gray, children grow up and leave home, attention skitters from this to that, the cookie is delicious but then it’s all gone, you’re mad about something for awhile and then get over it, consciousness streams on and on and on.
Many changes are certainly good. Most people are glad to put middle school behind them. I’m still happy about shifting thirty years ago from single to married. Painkillers, flush toilets, and the internet seem like pretty good ideas. It’s lovely to watch grass waving in the wind or a river passing. Fundamentally, if there were no change, nothing could … Read more »
Here is a list of 12 benchmarks of spiritual practice (Saskia Davis’s Symptoms of Inner Peace) with examples of how I work with them. This list is also a way to know that our spiritual practice is bearing fruit.
1. An increased tendency to allow things happen rather than make them happen
As a mom of two children I spent many years trying to make things happen. I wanted my children to act in certain ways, eat certain foods, choose certain clothing, etc. etc. As they got older and I watched myself trying to be “in control”, I realized I could trust them to be themselves. I realized I could allow them to make … Read more »