As part of the LifePower Yoga Mount Laurel challenge, I’m exploring one of the seven axioms of yoga each day and sharing what it means to me. If you’re interested in joining the challenge (and winning some Lululemon swag), you can find all the dets here .
#7 Everything is impermanent
In Buddhism, there’s a concept known as “Anicca,” according to which impermanence is an undeniable and inescapable fact of human existence. It’s the principle that everything ends and everything changes. At times we welcome impermanence, but mostly we resist it wanting our lives to stay exactly how we want them.
We don’t want to accept that our friend died in a car accident. We don’t want to accept that our relationship has run its course. We don’t want to accept that our mother is dying and there’s nothing we can do to help her.
We live our lives in opposition to that which we can’t control and we suffer as a result.
Right now, I’m watching someone I love dearly struggle with the declining health of their family member, the impermanence of life as they know it. Seeing her struggle with this harsh reality made me reflect on how impermanence has shown up in my own life. There’s the big impermanence’s – the death of my sister and brother to the breaking of the C2 vertebrae in my neck to my eating disorder. And then, there’s the smaller examples – reacting over what someone else said or reacting to my present moment reality. In all of those situations, I’ve resisted my own message of life’s impermanence. I didn’t want to accept that those people were no longer with me. I didn’t want to accept the physical limitations of my own body. I didn’t even want to accept the fact that I was staring at my own impermanence by my own doing – I was quite literally killing myself by starving myself and yet I thought I was invincible.
Unlike anything else, our encounters with impermanence help us look into our lives in a much deeper way. Encountering death or coming face to face with our own impermanence, allows us to realize only two things matter when we die: how we have lived our days and our state of mind. When we devote ourselves to those things, there can be no thing left undone.
In this way, impermanence becomes our greatest teacher and friend. It drives us to ask, “If everything ends and changes, what is really true? What is the truth? And, is there something I can look to survive that which I call death?”
While I don’t have the answers to these hard questions – and to be honest, I might never have it figured out – I do know that how I live now matters most. Only when I truly accept that things do change and that they will always change, can I really be in this moment right now and experience and live my life.