A life dedicated to service...

Week 45: Contemplating impermanence

Our “living this years as if it were our last” project began on December 19, 2016 (here) and is nearing its end. A year, a day, a bold undertaking — all of the nature to come and vanish. May we continue this practice for ever and ever.

Found* this Impermanence Contemplation and gave it a test-drive: see my comments at the bottom of the page. With that in mind, I pass it to you —

  • Reflect on how your outer environment has changed during the past year. Recall how the seasons changed: how the plants, flowers, and trees transformed over time; how the daylight increased and decreased.
  • Think about it both in your own personal living environment and throughout the globe as well. Think about the natural catastrophes that occurred around the world. Reflect on all the births and deaths of people, animals, and insects.
  • Allow the enormity to reach you on a deep level until you feel with certainty that not even on thing remained.

When I first did this I soon felt flooded by thoughts and images. So I did it again, this time focusing on one paragraph alone. Afterwards, putting instructions aside, I sat in silence.

Paying attention to my body in all its manifestations — tingles, numbness, aches, thoughts  — I brought awareness first to the breath and, after five minutes or so, to my heart-space. What was stirring there?

Resisting the habitual drift to thinking and analyzing, I shifted awareness again and again to sensations in the body. Moment by moment. Coming and going. It was there — deeply in awareness — that I caught brief glimpses of said impermanence.

What did you experience?

* Ellison, K. P. & Weingast, M., editors. (2016). Awake at the bedside: contemplative teachings on palliative and end-of-life care. Wisdom Publications, p. 63.

About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.
  1. Rosanne Reply

    Dear Peter, I have followed this journey with you over the past year and have been inspired. Thank you so very much for this, and for the work you do. I would love to meet for coffee and rekindle our connection from a few years ago!
    In gratitude, R

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