Buddha Basics: Understanding Impermanence
Buddha’s Most Important Teaching
Whenever I get into a funk, I revisit this Robert Frost poem:
“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
Why, you might ask, would you read a poem that’s so blunt when you’re in a funk?
The answer is because I need the truth.
The older that I get, the more I can appreciate the perspective Buddha had on impermanence.
Frost’s poem cuts right to the chase and reminds us that nothing lasts forever.
The more that we cling to people, places and things, the more suffering we invite into our daily lives.
I for one am not a fan of suffering, so I work on proactively clinging less.
I still have hopes and fears, expectations of how I’d like to be treated…I just try to stay present and grateful for what is, versus worrying so much about what could happen, but hasn’t happened yet.
By gradually lessening our relentless attachment to everything and everyone, we can lighten our load and enjoy living in the now. It just takes work, and baby steps are precisely the way to go.
SEE ALSO: Did Jesus Meditate?
Putting the Petal to the Metal
How do we begin to apply Buddhism to daily life?
(Nobody said this would be easy, by the way…this is simply a technique which I find helpful.)
Think of something that you are attached to.
It could be your favorite scarf, your car, a coffee mug.
Does the idea of losing this item make you uneasy? Do you “need” it to make it through the day?
If yes, here‘s is a perfect place to begin:
- Sit on a cushion or folded blanket and close your eyes.
- Picture the item and see it clearly.
- Follow your in breath and say to yourself “I release you”.
- Follow your out breath and say “I release you”.
- Keep picturing the item… Repeat this for ten rounds of breath.
- Sit with any negative or positive feelings that may arise.
- Don’t judge yourself for whatever you do or do not feel.
- Accept that a death-grip doesn’t ensure that everything’s going to remain as it is.
Finding the Practice
This meditation is about practicing how to release yourself from attachment; it’s an exercise on decreasing self-imposed suffering.
Practicing with inanimate objects is sort of like learning to ride a bicycle with training wheels.
You might lose your scarf, the car may be stolen, or your partner could cheat on you.
You cannot control what will happen, what you do or do not have.
You cannot control how someone may choose to love or not love you. (See how starting with a scarf could prep you for bigger, badder life stuff?)
But you can control how you spend your energy, how much you do or do not worry about things.
Let’s not get dark. I’m not saying that everything will fall apart…but why not practice a little meditation on impermanence while things are going swimmingly?
Enjoying your material objects is fine.
Loving someone with all of your heart is awesome.
Clinging to stuff or people will not guarantee your comfort and stability; but it’s a surefire path to increased suffering.
As you begin to liberate yourself from the imprisonment of your thoughts, you’ll breathe easier and reap the benefits of living with what is now.
Stay in the present and try not to fret so much about what comes next.
Enjoy and appreciate what and who is with you now, but don’t be afraid to say “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.
Get Daily Wellness
You might also like…
- by ARUNDHATI MUKHERJEE 11 MINUTE READ
- by Sivana Spirit 6 MINUTE READ
- by Melanie Phillips 7 MINUTE READ
- by Lauri Ann Lumby 5 MINUTE READ
- by Olivia Weil 10 MINUTE READ
- by Stephen Light 9 MINUTE READ