impermanence

The realization that we are all going down the tubes of time can actually be quite a cathartic release from the sense of fear and loneliness that arises when the mind first starts to contemplate impermanence. –Richard Freeman from The Mirror of Yoga

With the end of the year upon us, it is a great time for reflection of the past 365 days, to look back on all that has happened.  Some may look back with many thoughts of happiness and some may feel that the New Year can not come fast enough!  Whatever your feelings are, what is inevitable is that January 1st is going to come.  The truth is that for every ending, there is a new beginning.  We see in nature the constant cycle of endings and beginnings- the change of seasons, the sun setting on each day. These are things that we experience on a day to day basis but tend to lose sight of in our busy schedules.

One thing that nature does teach is that everything is temporary, but as humans when we think of impermanence feelings of fear, avoidance, and discomfort tend arise.  Yoga, along with other eastern philosophies, teach that the more comfortable you are with impermanence and change the more you can live fully in the present moment. But how? If you look to nature you see that endings are a natural part of the cycle of life, you see how the spring becomes the summer, the summer turns to fall, and fall turns to winter, and winter then becomes spring and so on and so on.  It is much easier to accept the turn of summer into fall than to accept perhaps the end of a relationship or the turn of life into death.  Yoga teaches to observe life, circumstances, and situations, that is the act of being present, seeing things as they are as they arise.  But what if you knew that a loved one was going to die tomorrow? How would that knowledge affect your relationship with that person? Chances are you would want to spend quality time with them, make that phone call you have been meaning to make, or tell them “I love you”.  What if you knew someone you did not care for was going to die tomorrow? Would you still carry anger, hold a grudge, or perhaps would you offer the olive branch?  Now that you know we are all going to die and that everything is temporary how can you make the most of what you have now? Death (impermanence) teaches you to live more fully in the present moment. 

As a yogi you are constantly embodying change, the beginning, middle, and end of a pose, transition into a new pose.  The yoga practice integrates this teaching of impermanence constantly as it allows you to become more comfortable with change and letting go as you flow with a strong grace on the mat.  So whether on you are on your mat or in the everyday world, the realization that we are all “going down the tubes of time” is a little comforting.  Impermanence is something that every being on the planet has in common, use this knowledge to connect more with others and deepen existing relationships.   Observe it, accept it, and let it have you live a more awakened life.

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