Monday, August 8, 2011

Impermanence

Today I've been thinking about impermanence. Today my youngest son started kindergarten. No more toddlers or preschoolers in the home. No more little ones at home to shadow me through the school day. I was a bit nostalgic this morning, reminiscing to my boys about the day the oldest one began kindergarten. Tonight in yoga we were asked to be aware of impermanence throughout our practice as we moved in and out of positions. Every breath, every stretch, every muscle pain, fleeting and temporary. Though some moments seem to last too long, like headstand poses, or for my oldest son, a school day, which lasted "a million years," others fly by when we want to hold on them, like my youngest wanting to hold my hand or kiss me "100 times" before letting me leave him at school. It's such a challenge to breathe through the unpleasant moments, reminding myself that they won't last forever while enjoying the pleasant ones without trying to make them stretch out past their healthy lifespans. My own faith journey has been one of accepting impermanence. Former beliefs exchanged for new ones which may be replaced a year from now. We are not wired to accept impermanence, at least not as adults, which is ironic given the impermanence in which we are steeped. It's a constant challenge for me to rest easy in an awareness of impermanence. What about you? Are there areas where you embrace impermanence?

6 comments:

  1. It seems to me permanence is simply an illusion of the mind, like "confirmation bias". The mind forms maps or images of the world, then thinks the world itself is as unchanging as its maps or images of it. That's just the way the mind works. You don't overcome it so long as you have a mind at all. Instead, you just manage it.

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  2. I think "manage" is right. It's a daily practice in awareness. Our mind has many clever and highly adaptive ways to simplify its work and run more efficiently, like confirmation bias. Unfortunately, some of these short cuts lead to errors in understanding ourselves and the world.

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  3. I would think that embracing impermanence is the very essence of parenting - at least, that's been my experience so far. Every time I think I know how they'll react, or what they can do, they move on to something new. It seems like I have to find a new equilibrium every couple of weeks.

    I visualize the process as something like surfing (which I've never tried) or Aikido (which I have): the goal is to keep your balance and move with the things that are trying to upset it.

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  4. I've found it interesting how much more aware I've become of impermanence after questioning my beliefs. I certainly approach things differently, and find myself not stressing over minor things, and taking more time to treasure the moments of life. At first, this self-awareness was quite disturbing (as you know from my post on existential crisis), but I've grown accustomed to the existential thoughts now.

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  5. Michael Mock,
    Thanks for stopping by. I love your last line. It describes parenting so well. "The goal is to keep your balance and move with the things that are trying to upset it."

    Like A Child,
    Self awareness is often quite disturbing. No doubt! Hope you're feeling better these days.

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  6. I like that last line from MM as well. I think it describes, very well, much more than parenting. It describes the fluidity that is life. Part of our "management" strategy has to be keeping our balance and moving fluidly with changes. Instead of locking our knees and being thrown off the surfboard, we bend a little, give a little for the wave, and ride it.

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