The painful beauty of impermanence

This past Friday was Nirvana Day.

Nirvana

No, not that Nirvana. This one.

Reclining Buddha

Nirvana Day is the day when Buddhists commemorate the death of the Buddha, the day when he reached final Nirvana. It is also an opportunity to honor our loved ones who have died and a chance to contemplate death and impermanence as the constant companions to life.

So today I’m writing about death. Wait! Before you click the little “x” that will let you escape this uncomfortable subject, bear with me for a minute. I promise this isn’t a sad or scary post, but one of joy and the peace that comes from accepting the beauty of impermanence. In the words of Sensei Christopher Kakuyo Ross-Leibow, “When we walk with her, we gain a deep appreciation of the unrepeatable preciousness of our lives and the priceless value of each day.”

We cannot change the fact that everything in life is impermanent, including life itself. What we can change is the way we look at that impermanence. Accepting impermanence makes every moment more precious, every experience more noteworthy.

You only live once? False. You live everyday. You only die once.

What if we treated each encounter with another living being as if it would be our last contact? What if we looked at the beauty of each sunrise or sunset as if it would be our final glimpse? What if we savored each bite of food as if it would be the final taste? Would we be more present in the moment? Would we give each of our senses the proper attention?

If you could find a way to live forever, how much do you think you would get done? A lot? Actually, probably nothing, because there would always be tomorrow. Talk about opportunity for procrastination!

If you knew you would never die, how much would you value each minute? A lot less, I dare say. Overabundance always lowers the value of things. You can’t help but take them for granted.

When we accept the fact that life, and everything in it, is temporary, it becomes more precious. What is it about your life in this very moment that you value most? Can you take a minute and appreciate that? Is there something you can do to bring more of what you value into your life?

Can you walk with impermanence? Embrace it? See the beauty in it?

Transformation Challenge – Week 4

In order to create accountability for myself, I will be giving a weekly update of my efforts and progress in the 8-week Transformation Challenge. If you are not interested in this portion of my blog, please feel free to skip down to the Comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Workouts

I made up for my missed Orangetheory workout last week and attended four classes this week. In addition, I did one stationary bike ride and one yoga session and had one rest day.

Transformation Challenge results

Nutrition

I food prepped for the week on Sunday, making crustless cauliflower quiche for breakfasts and sweet potato chickpea chili for lunches. I splurged over Valentine’s Day with sugar cookies, but kept the meals healthy.

Goals

Last week’s coach’s goal for the group was to focus more on proper form on the weight floor for a safer and more efficient workout. I feel good about my efforts in this department and took some corrective notes from the coaches during the workouts.

Your turn

  1. What do you value most about this very moment?
  2. Are you a Nirvana (the band) fan?
  3. What is your wellness goal this week?
  4. Share anything else you’d like to–any topic at all.

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Shared on the GRAND Social and #MLSTL and Bloggers Pit Stop.

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36 Comments

  1. WOW! This is a post that will make you stop and think and then be grateful for all that you are blessed with. Life is so short, we need to embrace it fully. Yes, I like Nirvana, well some of their songs 🙂 Congrats on your continued success with your transformation challenge!

    • Yes, Dee, life is short and precious. I’m with you on Nirvana. I really like some of their songs and have a few on my workout playlist. Thank you for the encouragement on my fitness challenge.

  2. Liz Kershisnik-Gwynn

    Hi Christie! I actually haven’t taken a minute to read your blog in a bit. But this post reminds me why I love it so much! I love this concept. I feel like getting caught up in the daily grind can often keep me from really appreciating all that’s awesome about my day to day.
    It really doesn’t have to be a downer to think of everything in life as impermanent.

    In this moment, a toddler who sleeps well is something I value very much.

    I am a Nirvana (band) fan, but I don’t listen to them much anymore.

    I actually have just set a wellness goal to drink more water, and I’m going to make sure I drink my whole 32oz cup of water before I allow myself any diet Coke. (And then of course I’ll have more water after… But it’s that first push I need to work on)

    I love you! It was great to see you this past weekend!!

    Liz

    • Hello Liz! I know how busy you are with a new house and a toddler at home, so I do appreciate you taking time out to read my blog and comment. I agree, it is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget how amazing it all is. As I am often reminded, mindfulness is a practice. Good luck on your water goal. I was just reading an article on how important getting adequate hydration is. You’ve chosen your focus wisely! 🙂 XOXO

  3. For some reason, western society is uncomfortable about thinking or talking about death… even though none of us will get out alive. I didn’t realize that Friday was Nirvana Day but I love the concept. (Not a fan of the band, but Kurt Cobain was gorgeous.)

  4. Thank you for the very thought-provoking post, Christie. You are right — when we savor each moment as if it is our last, our perceptions change for the positive and our gratitude expands immensely. Shared on my SM. #MLSTL

  5. Hi Christie what a powerful post and one that has certainly made me think. We all talk about making the most of every day and there are endless quotes and inspirational posts about it. However, how many of us really do that? We don’t like to think of death and probably only make each day count in reality after a health scare or a diagnosis where the prognosis is not good. Thank you for writing this special post and making me really think and commit to ‘walking with impermanence’. Have a beautiful week and thank you for sharing at #MLSTL. I’m sharing on Social media. xx

    • Thank you for your kind words, Sue. When I hear inspirational stories of people who have had near-death experiences or health scares that changed their lives, I always think “Why can’t we find a way to have that kind of awakening without the near-death experience or health scare?” I’m not sure I can achieve that level of change all at once, but I do find I can make incremental changes when I remind myself that life is fleeting for all of us and that each moment is precious.

  6. Hi Christie – Congrats on your continued success with your Transformation Challenge! Life is temporary and precious for sure. I feel grateful when I wake up every morning to a new day. #MLSTL

    • I agree Natalie. On mornings when I wake up feeling tired or out of sorts, it always helps me put things in perspective if I say aloud “I am full of gratitude for another day on this earth” or “Today is a precious gift. I choose to treat it so.”

  7. Food for thought. I’ve been to 3 funerals already this year, and a distant friend lost her son who was a young man. I am doubling down on my spiritual work to help with anxiety about things and trying to live to the fullest as best as I can.

    • It is hard to lose someone you care for and can be scary to hear tales of someone young suddenly gone from this earth. Best wishes on your spiritual work. I dare say mindfulness, gratitude, and acceptance are works in progress for all of us.

  8. Beautiful.
    Have you heard the expression about the river? The river that flows by you is never the same. It’s always changing.
    Or flowers. If we focused on the fact that they die, we wouldn’t love them so much!
    Love your writing.

  9. I touch those moments occasionally. Most days I’m not there, but sometimes, not really enough times, I stop, take a slow breath and look around. It’s as if time pauses for me and I actually see and truly appreciate what’s in front of me.

    • I think that is true for most of us, Jennifer. Mindfulness and gratitude are practices for sure. But aren’t those moments beautiful, when you are suddenly struck with awe at the things around you? I am working to have more of those moments in my life.

  10. Hi Christie – I think that’s one of the realizations of Midlife – we’re onto the second half of life and we never know what’s around the corner. That being said I’m in the middle of a momentous decision as to whether to leave the toxic work situation I’m in and retire – I’m pulled in two directions, but the thought that these days are important and time is short is definitely pulling me into the retirement camp! Resignation soon to be written!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

  11. I love that saying Christie, we really do live every day and die just once, it’s a great way of looking at life and we need to remember that! A really thoughtful post and I’m sharing it for #mlstl

  12. Husbands illness made me appreciate each day I am given. I tend to live in the future always making plans. I don’t have that luxury anymore. I like that saying we live every day but die once.

  13. Hi Christie,
    This post did give me pause, at first; contemplating one’s death is still a bit scary for me. But I love the thought that it’s not that you only live once but instead only die once…and live everyday.
    I’m trying to live every day.
    Visiting from #MLSTL
    Shared to SM.

  14. jodie filogomo

    I love your perspective on this Christie. And that quote. I may need to use it on the blog…it’s perfect.
    It’s such a great reminder to enjoy every day…we try to say it a lot, but it’s really how you live it that makes all the difference.
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

  15. This was such a powerful message for me this morning as I’ve just flown from Australia to England to be with my 90 year old Mum as she’s not doing too well. You’ve reminded me to savour every moment I have with her. Thank you. Shared on Social Media and from #MLSTL

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