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Tag Archives: Impermanence

    Last night at the Washington Mindfulness Community, we listened to a tape from Thich Nhat Hanh’s 21 day retreat in June, 2012 in Plum Village and recited the Five Mindfulness Trainings.  The talk related the same story I had just read that morning before meditation, so I thought it might be a special message for me today.  In Understanding the Mind (p. 203), Thay says:

    “Through the practice of deep looking, we can see the interdependent nature of all things and transform delusion into illumination….When your beloved says something that hurts you, try this practice: Close your eyes, breathe mindfully in and out, and visualize the two of you one hundred years from now.  After three breaths, when you open your eyes, you will no longer feel hurt; instead, you will want to hug her.  These are examples of touching nirvana.  We learn to touch the whole and not get caught in small situations.  Imaginary construction brings about the misery of samsara.  The nature of nirvana opens the door of wisdom and reveals the realm of suchness.  The bridge between the two is insight into the interdependent nature of reality.”

A very similar instruction was given to us by Anh Huong about hugging meditation at the ceremony to transmit the Five Mindfulness Trainings on Saturday – “Breathe three times, realizing how precious it is that your friend is here, alive, that she will no longer be in your arms in 100 years.”
Image    This notion of how contemplating impermanence and inter-being and our deep connections with our loved ones across space and time can transform our actions and attitudes in the present moment stayed with me during the day.  Later, my husband and I were taking down our Christmas tree and lights outdoors.  Although I experienced a little sadness that these lovely lights would be packed away for a whole year, I also knew that it was freeing to have the holiday finished.  I gave special care in wrapping up decorations that I had made with my son 30 years before, realizing that I might not be alive next year to unwrap them.  So, I marked each set of lights and package of homemade decorations with notes for whoever might open them next Christmas.  It would be a small act of “continuation,” an act that made this moment more precious, my actions more mindful.  I paused in the work to give my husband a hug, appreciating his warm aliveness, knowing that our love would endure whatever challenges this year might bring.

    It is possible to be happy right here, right now, in this moment, no matter what is happening, no matter what external circumstances are challenging us.  We have our breath, our awareness of the precious and fleeting nature of this moment, this breath, this human lifespan.  In touching our breath, we can also touch the Ultimate reality that we will never die, just transform.  We are not only a brief wave on the ocean, but the whole ocean itself.  We are already everything we need to be in this moment.  We have every condition for happiness, right here, right now.  What joy impermanence can bring!

Photo by Joann

What a glorious day! Blue skies, light clouds shifting, some slowly, some quickly. Warm breezes over the ocean. We varied our routine today – after writing and meditation, we rode our bikes to the ocean for an early swim. To be honest, Pat swam while I wobbled through the onslaught of waves. We stretched on a sheet on the sand to dry, meditating on the changing shapes of the clouds. Sometimes when I am meditating indoors, I observe my mind as a clear blue sky with each thought, feeling or sensation drifting and changing as it migrates across my mind. I know that my mind can be expanded, stretched as wide as this sky today, connected to whatever One Mind might be. The clouds of physical pain, distraction, worry and fear rise, move slowly or quickly and disappear. Impermanence is so wonderful, so freeing. No need to cling to the delightful because something more delightful might be waiting to take its place. No need to worry that pain will remain forever. Nothing does.

So, I am writing my blog later in the day than I have other days this week. Now clouds have suddenly filled the sky. The weather can change so quickly, just as our physical aches, our emotions, our thoughts change. Yesterday I struggled with discomfort and had difficulty working. Today, I woke feeling terrific, without pain, energetic. I could have plunged into completing my writing/publishing tasks first as we have on other days, and left my reading and sunning until now. But this beautiful morning summoned us and we responded. I don’t regret the choice. It is such a privilege to have this week to combine rest and work as we choose, sometimes shifting like the clouds moment to moment.