Several years ago, I walked past a sign every day on a co-worker’s door that read: “‘The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change’ – Heraclitus.” I read the quote and thought, yes, that’s what people say, change is inevitable. It makes sense, and I remember thinking I understood this concept, albeit in its intangible state at the time. However, the notion behind Heraclitus’s words didn’t fully sink in until more recently, when I was sitting on a beach meditating. It was in this mindfulness state, contemplating my faith in buddhism that I came to the realization that this singular concept is what drives my spiritual/yoga/meditation/mindfulness practice.
Bottom line, the quote is saying: change is constant. This moment leads to the next moment and nothing stays forever. Having faith in my mindfulness practice has grown stronger and richer as I put this principle to practice.
I did not fully grasp this notion until I started seeing life through this perspective. I began with simple things first. For instance, when I’m sick, or sad, or tired, I remind myself that this will pass. I no longer treat the stomach ache, or the thing making me sad, or my exhaustion like it’s the end of the world, even though it might feel that way.
Then, as I began seeing relief from tackling uncomfortable situations in this manner, I moved on to more challenging experiences. Instead of fighting to understand the reason behind every unwelcome experience, like when I’ve had a relationship end, or had problems at work, I began to see them as passing moments. In doing so, I became less worried about why these things happened. It’s as if the story behind these situations started to carry less weight. I didn’t care so much about the “why” any more.
Having this insight, helps bring a lighter, nonreactive perspective. Holding these thoughts lighter eases the intensity of the pain. It still sucks, but I remind myself, this awful feeling I’m having right now will pass. During the suffering, I find solace in knowing it will not last forever. And above all, I try to take good care of myself during this time. Pour on the self empathy. I’m all I’ve got, and I deserve to be treated with utmost care.
I believe in mindfulness because when you realize every moment is different and leads to a new moment, the practice lies within being in these moments and not caught up in changing them or in fear of this moment lasting forever. There is freedom in being present. Freedom from suffering and, for example, thinking this bad feeling is going to last forever — because it’s not.
When we think it’s over for good or something upsetting will last forever, we get stuck. No progress comes from this state. There is movement in knowing nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass.