Meditation Challenge Update: Seeing Impermanence


A french old fashioned merry-go-round...

So today is the end of the first two weeks of the 2013 Meditation Challenge, and I am still finding the weekends challenging – I’m more likely to roll right out of bed into ski togs or to the farmer’s market than onto the meditation cushion. I still intend to include weekends in my 30 mins per day commitment, but I make exceptions, and allow myself to make up the time another day.

The other thing I encounter when sitting lately is the nagging feeling that there’s no time for this, that “I’ve got to get moving”, my mind tells me, because “there’s so much to get done”. I try to include and embrace this perception, along with everything else, as I sit, resting in awareness, coming back over and over again to the breath. Slowly, I remember, as I make contact with the silence inside, that despite the urgent insistence of the mind, it isn’t true. There’s a choice available – continue with the crazymaking, dizzying pace of continually trying to cram too much into the day, or I can slow my step when there’s no need for the race, and begin to make peace with the limits of what I can do in one day.

The latter choice has me more present, able to enjoy what occurs, and less exhausted at the end of the day. I do prefer this state of things now, although I know those who do not, and that there are others who may be critical of this way of being, calling it boring or a mediocre existence. I enjoyed reading a lovely post recently, that discusses this notion of boredom, and its value in mindfulness practice.

Most importantly, what this slowing down allows me to do is to see the fleeting nature of every experience, of every moment, and want more and more to fully engage in whatever the experience of the present moment holds, because it’s the only moment I ever have. This, in itself, might seem like a worthy goal, but there’s one even more important than that, which is engaging with life while neither grasping nor resisting experience. This is how to get off the merry go round of suffering, the wheel of samsara.

It seems quite simple, I realize, from the description above. Extremely simple, but not easy. We are convinced that we can get off the merry go round without having to change what we believe, or be inconvenienced too much. We are quite attached the false notion that peace and happiness comes from having what we want, and the mind cannot conceive of any other way to achieve such a state of harmony. This is why it is called the peace which surpasses all understanding. The mind cannot imagine it.

I heard the spiritual teacher Adyashanti describe it this way recently: this peace, the freedom from suffering that we want so badly, comes from understanding so fully and deeply that the cycle of grasping and aversion leads to suffering, that we finally just stop doing it, the same way we know not to touch a hot stove.

A traditional Merry-go-round in Covent Garden,...

A traditional Merry-go-round in Covent Garden, London, August 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s one heck of a knowing! Convinced once and for all! All sorts of illusion in life and tricks of the mind prevent us from seeing this clearly. This illusion is part of what we uncover in our mindfulness practice. This is also a good reason to include self-inquiry as part of mindfulness practice, to question your assumptions and sort out what is true, so to be able to more clearly see and become convinced by the evidence.

I do not know it like I know the stove is hot, but I am closer than I once was, and I continue to reap all the other goodies that come from mindfulness practice. I am still sucked in by samsara from time to time, but it is exciting to see the beginnings of letting go of illusion in my habits of thought, the faint rumblings of a consistent knowing, and the whisper of the promise of a new way of being – off the merry go round for good.

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a personal coach and licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, direct pointing, awareness skills education, and meditation instruction.
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2 Responses to Meditation Challenge Update: Seeing Impermanence

  1. rococonnor says:

    It is great when we start to realise the wisdom of non-grasping, in thought, deed and word. Great post!

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