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Posted by on May 2, 2012

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“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.” Paulo Coelho “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” Rabindranath Tagore

We grasp. We reach. We climb. We sweat. Repeat Cycle. Does any beauty or lasting happiness come from these endeavors? The Indian playwright and poet, as well as Nobel Prize winner admonishes us to seek moments. I want more of these. To breath them in like sun on my skin or wind in my hair, fleeting yet glorious in their perfect, unerring, short-lived essence. As yogis we are taught to look within for guidance, to seek refuge in our practice, but how often does your practice truly reflect the sentiments of letting go, a full embracing of impermanence? In his Yoga Sutras, (11.15) Patanjali reminded us that the most pleasurable things in our lives would, at some point, become the most painful, because we would have to eventually let them go.


Impermanence is a concept is defined as the ephemeral nature of all things. Even those things which seem immovable are fleeting. Mountains crumble. Deserts form where once great seas and rivers gushed. we can try to carry all our emotions, even, like fugitives, our great feelings of joy and happiness, and try to hide them away,  as if this will keep them from melting like a snowflake on a hot summer day, but this is impossible. We can frustrate ourselves with the non-acceptance of this fact or embrace the momentariness of each moment – the good and bad, as we have defined them. We can allow tears to fall when they need to, knowing they will dry up like a riverbed, or cease gloating over a great success, knowing that this too, is transient.


Exactly how do I embrace Impermanence? Here are a few ways to stay in the flow of an ever-changing world:
  1. Complete this sentence: “I’ll feel better when. . .” then realize that you just made a choice to delay your own happiness. Things will always change. Sometimes you will get what you want, and sometimes you won’t. Let that be o.k. and choose to be happy anyway.
  2. Choose a different story. You are always deciding what your life story is. Realizing it can change at any time, decide to tell a new one – one that works better for you.
  3. Don’t judge others by the reality they are facing today. It can change ay any moment. Realize their worth even in their worst moments. This will help you to remember your own.
  4. Allow humility in your greatest pride, lightness is your greatest sorrow. Both are but a turn of the wheel.
  5. When someone annoys you, angers you, makes you feel small, remember that these are just feelings. They are not concrete, not even as large and seemingly immovable as a great mountain. Emotions are like wind. They come and they go. Let go.

Impermanence is a gift. . . when we embrace it.

Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


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