It’s days like these… the past several days in NYC that have been brutally, record-breaking hot… that I am grateful for impermanence. I don’t weather this kind of weather well. Some people get bronzed and glow-y in summer heat. I get pink and puffy. It’s not pleasant. And so I remind myself that we will not forever be stifled by the heat and swimming in puddles of our own perspiration. In another six months, we’ll be chilled to the bone and shrouded in a blanket of dense gray clouds. (I’ll be thankful for impermanence then, too.)
It is much easier, I think, to embrace and appreciate the concept of impermanence when we are in the midst of something unpleasant. We can be comforted by the knowledge that this too shall pass. But the rules of impermanence apply just the same when we are on vacation or enjoying a beautiful meal with a loved one. Just because we deem it a pleasant experience doesn’t mean we can slow down time or keep the next wave of change from coming.
What we can do is soften our resistance. Whether it’s resistance to the current circumstance that we wish would hurry up and be over already! Or resistance to something we enjoy coming to an end. We can practice meeting these changes with a softening of the breath, a spaciousness of the mind, and perhaps a bit of curiosity about what the next moment will bring.
And as always,we are fortunate to have our yoga practice that allows us to do exactly that…practice. In poses we love that we feel we could stay in all day, we can be mindful and open to where this pose can lead; whether it’s our own body speaking to us and determining what comes next, or the teacher’s instruction that guides us on. Likewise, in poses that challenge us or are downright strenuous, perhaps we can steady the breath and stay present with the experience knowing that it is going to evolve.
Impermanence is easy to identify in the changing of the seasons, in the growing up of a child or a tree. But impermanence manifests in subtle, sometimes imperceptible ways with the passing of every moment, the breathing of every breath. If we can offer those moments our attention and wakefulness, perhaps we can meet impermanence with softness, spaciousness, and curiosity. And a few extra ice cubes in the iced tea.