Our life is built on one solid foundation of change. Learning to be with the impermanence of things can spur appreciation and gratitude for all of the good things we have in life and for the natural passing of those less preferred moments.
As beautiful as that sounds, the impermanence of things can also feel excruciating. And the need to endure, next to impossible.
The following suggestions are devoted to those moments, both big and small:
1. Take several conscious breaths and focus on your body sensations. Breathe in for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds, and repeat this at least 4 times.
This may sound a bit weird if you’ve never tried it, but our bodies can tell us a lot. Unlike the mind–which will continue to run it’s racket of doom and gloom about the future and regrets from the past–the body and the breath are present in the here and now. Also, breathing literally shifts our physiology, making it more likely that we move out of our fear about what is occurring at the moment.
2. Recognize the thoughts that are running through your mind as just that: thoughts.
While it is true that we may be having thoughts, it doesn’t mean that our thoughts are true. Of course, accepting this is easier said than done, but with practice, it does get easier. And lucky for us, life will hand us more than enough moments to practice. I find that doing this after I’ve taken some moments to breathe makes it much easier.
3. After breathing and getting present with yourself for several minutes, ask yourself what the next best action would be for you to take. What would bring you a feeling of aliveness?
Sometimes it might be taking a walk, talking to a friend, or having a really good cry. Notice the question did not say, “What would make all of these bad feelings and difficult circumstances go away?” The question is, “What would bring me into my greatest aliveness right now?” Then, simply go do that thing.
While experiencing the entropy of our lives, it is nice to know that there are things we can do to ease the growing pains. We are not the helpless victims that we sometimes feel we are. Knowing that we have the means to navigate these moments is comforting in and of itself.
And when all else fails, just go with the classic: stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head.