Guided Reflection on Impermanence

In the blog category “Guided Reflections”, I will provide detailed explanations for all the guided reflection tracks that I will place in the Resources section of this website. These blog posts will be hyperlinked from the “Guided Reflections” page under “Resources” menu option where these tracks in mp3 format will be placed for streaming or for downloading.

Impermanence, called anicca (Pāli) or anitya (Sanskrit) appears extensively in the Pali Canon as one of the essential doctrines of Buddhism. The doctrine asserts that all of conditioned existence is inconstant. All temporal things, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction.

The concept of impermanence and continuous becoming is central to early Buddhist teachings. It is stated that not seeing impermanence is ignorance. Seeing impermanence is the doorway to liberation. The more often we see this passing away nature of mind states and emotions, the less driven we are by them. Direct insight – that is, seeing into their passing away – brings about the space to be with mind states and emotions without identification and without reaction.

In this Guided Reflection practice, we will use the natural inclinations of our minds to reflect and investigate on this principle.  We will settle our bodies in a comfortable position. We will keep the head, neck and back erect but not rigid. We will intentionally cultivate an attitude of patience, gentleness and kindness towards ourselves. After gently closing our eyes, we will tune in to feeling of the breath flowing in and out of the body. We will focus our attention and will follow the breath as it comes in and goes out. As and when our mind starts to wander off into thoughts, memories, emotions and judgements; we will bring to mind the principle of impermanence. The truth of impermanence is that in less than 100 years from now, all living beings involved in these mind objects (including ourselves) will cease to exist.

It is very likely that consciously bringing to mind the fact that one day we will cease to exist will help our minds get unhooked from various thoughts and emotions. This may give us some degree of freedom, peace and understanding. If we find ourselves breaking free from the grip of mind objects, we should highlight the moment of transition because we are now able to change our perception at a deep level of our mind in order to free ourselves from suffering that comes along with the persistence of mind objects. If no mind objects arise, then we will keep our attention gently focused on our breath.

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