“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts
Impermanence. It’s one of the cornerstones in the teaching of Buddhism and something, in some way, that we all know we can’t avoid.
Yet why do we spend so much time trying to?
We put needles in our faces to look young. We hold tightly to relationships we know aren’t meant to be. And we avoid any confrontation that may mean radical changes in our work – even though we know it has to happen.
Yet when I look back and connect the dots on my own experiences in the past few years – what seemed like confronting, tricky and grief stricken situations (and many of them were) they were also making way for something new and these too will change in form and mould into something else.
And I’m starting to understand that that’s beautiful.
This picture was taken at the start of a long, hot, slippery and totally lush hike along the Na Pali coast today in Kauai. To say it was an epic hike (four hours in total) is an understatement. But what really rang loud and true for me – as I walked along coast line and up and down massive mountains, not to mention swam under an incredible waterfall (pure magic) – was that everything has a beginning, middle and end. Everything has a cycle.
Yes I was surrounded by nature which is a bold and obvious example of change. Change in season; a knowing that each flower I look at will eventually decay and die to make way for another, erosion, births of the red-headed robin chicks we hear each morning here in Kauai and the very accidental death of the tiny lizard I stepped on a few days ago (may he rest in peace…so sorry little buddy).
We so easily accept this kind of change in nature. So why can’t we so easily accept this cycle as part of our own human experiences?
And what inspired this deep thinking today? The above photograph. I had almost the same shot taken at the same spot two years ago.
Two years ago I was in a different relationship, felt differently about the way I lead yoga classes to how I do now, and was being guided by a different set of beliefs.
When I compare the ‘cycles’ it’s not that things were necessarily better or worse two years ago. They were just different.
Both relationships were and are beautiful – but the last one just changed, ended and made way for this one.
I’ve since done some more incredibly enriching teacher trainings that have radically effected the way I teach and lead my yoga classes as well as practice. It’s gone deeper and a lot more intuitive. And no doubt it will take a new wave this year after more trainings.
And as for some of my beliefs – they’ve softened, opened up and I’m at the very beginning phase of really starting to accept my body and it’s changes (Slowly. Baby steps).
Change, when infused with grace, trust and curiosity makes way for new life.
The other thing about impermanence? It reminds us to savour the moment.
Friends and family can be taken away from us in a heart beat. So connect. Often.
That relationship that you’re in right now may not last forever but how about being in it as if it will never end? Love like you’ll never be hurt. Don’t hold back – it only slows you down from the natural progression and flow of things.
And that beautiful glass of wine that you’re drinking – that will most definitely end at some point so savour and fully taste every mouthful. Enjoy.
“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.” – W. Somerset Maugham.