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Most of us go on with life day to day living with the false impression that things will remain. We grasp for things and crave that they stay the same, like when we purchase a beautiful item and want it to last, cling on to relationships, cling on to youth, and are devastated as we watch them get worn, we get bored, we change... We are not generally comfortable with the changing nature of reality. We are more drawn to our own habitual patterns/ conditioning/ ‘comfort zones’. We know life is unpredictable, but we somehow think it shouldn’t be — we have resistance to letting go. We are, many of us, under the influence of an illusion of some level of permanence. The fantasy that things will remain also infects us as we notice some deficit in ourselves and over identify with “my anxiety” or “my pathology”; we fixate on the chronicity of problems, thinking things will always be this way and feel helpless and hopeless. Permanence of good things, means permanence of not so good things too.
Mindfulness involves being in the here-and-now, having a present-moment focus. In addition to living in the moment, mindfulness practice also allows us to realise the nature of reality as impermanent. We are encouraged to, rather than remaining in this illusion, start to mindfully notice how everything is constantly changing. Reflecting on the changing nature of the weather, the ocean, the garden is easier than reflecting on the changing nature of other things. Reflecting on the very momentary nature of our lives can feel threatening initially but the opportunities that are available to us when we start to think this way are invaluable in terms of our personal development. With meditation and reflection on the nature of impermanence, we pass through difficulties more easily and begin to experience ‘riding the wave’ of anxiety, and other uncomfortable aspects of being human. We can practice and get more comfortable with letting go and not grasping and clinging on to things that are naturally evolving. We become more rehearsed at ‘not making things a big deal’, we allow people to grow and evolve and change their mind, we allow ourselves to progress.
The nature of our mind is to think. Practicing mindfulness won’t change the nature of your mind, but it will change the way you relate to your thoughts, your emotional experiences and therefore your quality of life. As we practice mindfulness, we witness the nature of impermanence, we notice internal changes in the way our body feels, we notice external smells and sounds come and go, we practice letting go of thoughts, not grasping. We practice not holding on so tightly with our mind.
Here is a three step practice you may like to try in order to deepen your reflection on impermanence.
Three step practice:
Don’t hold on so tightly with your mind...
NB: During this practice we can experience a lot of energy as we watch thoughts, images, impulses come and go. Toward this energy, we apply the same practice of mindfulness of impermanence.
Melbourne Centre for Women’s Mental Health offer a range of options for those wanting to learn mindfulness or deepen their practice of meditation generally. You can book online to experience Mindfulness Based Therapies in session with our Psychologists, or deepen your meditation practice with our meditation teacher Gwenda.
Skocic, S. 2019