(6.1) Impermanence, Groundlessness, and Letting Be

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Congratulations, you’ve made it to the final section! As you get to the end of the course material, please know that you are still a part of the tribe. You may revisit the material as many times as you want, so technically you’re not at the ‘end’ of the course. I’ve found that my life lessons often spiral around: even when I think I really understand something, when I encounter it again, I still more to learn, at a completely different level.

So please don’t lose the link to this course. Stay in the Facebook group and touch back to the material from time to time. And don’t worry if you end up being away for months or more at a time. You are always welcome back into the How to Human tribe.

I will also continue to share new information in the H2H Facebook group.

In this section, I’ll cover impermanence, groundlessness, and letting things be as they are. In time, everything changes, nothing is permanent on this earth. We are constantly in transition, with our minds learning and our bodies slowly moving toward death. That can seem really morbid and sad, but I find it incredibly inspiring, to know that, like a dog, my time here in this life is limited.

I don’t have to do everything – I can’t in limited time. I don’t have to put up with with anything here forever, even the things that seem impossible for me to change, because I will eventually die. That’s the beauty of impermanence. It’s not my job. I don’t have to rush the process of my dying, or run from it, either. My purpose, as I see it, is to learn to connect to myself and others and experience my senses. More about purpose in the last part of this section.

I figure that since my death going to happen eventually, no matter what, I might as well see what I can do with the time I have. I have lost a beloved husband. I have lost soulmate dogs and other friends and family. And as painful as those experiences are, they touched deep to my core, they gave me an experience shared by all of humanity.

When I fully acknowledged the feelings, and savored them, I saw that they, too, were not permanent, not constant. Knowing that even grief does not last forever, nor does any emotional state, I can intensely feel each moment as it is and let it be. When something happens, it isn’t possible to make it un-happen, and the only path to peace I’ve found is acceptance of what is.

When I accept things as they already are, I stop putting energy into fighting the past. I can live in the present and lean my actions forward into the future, knowing all the while that I truly have no idea what the future may bring.

Accepting that this Buddhist concept of groundlessness is just the way of the world, that there is no solid and completely unchangeable ground to find, was a revolution in my life. And of course I don’t remember it all the time; I have to circle back to it. But it’s something that’s proven useful to me. Buddhism isn’t a religion, more like a philosophy, and a lot of its tenets bring me clarity.

In a sense, impermanence is my “ground.” I feel solid in the knowledge that everything changes and depends on perspective, on time. I also have some spiritual ideas of what may be relatively more constant in the universe. You may find ground in your religious faith, or something else. Do whatever works for you.

The first topic I’ll cover in this section is mindful listening: how to really be present while listening to another. I’ll also talk about grief, transitions, and loss, something that we all experience as humans, and especially as caregivers for dogs and other non-human animal friends. In addition to being just really unpleasant, grief can be a wonderful teacher and a path to joy. I thought I’d cover it here, at the end of the course, because this, too, is a transition, and all transitions can bring some measure of grief.

Next, I’ll talk about acceptance and joy and what those look like, with some practical ways to build your acceptance. Finally, I’ll talk about an emotional approach to retirement planning, what you can do now to create a life you want to retire into.