Listen for constant changes.

Listen for constant changes.
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Listen for constant changes.

It is easy for us to hear the sound of a bell when it is struck, and notice that the bell goes silent. However, the bell is constantly changing between them. Listen for constant changes.

It’s like our everyday life. It is constantly changing. Every moment is different. If you have a hard day, week or semester, the next moment will be different. Allow yourself to be reborn in this present moment.

I have the great privilege of teaching a mindfulness class every week at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The class is held in Salt Lake City’s beautiful Red Butte Gardens. I recently bought a new 85mm macro lens for my Nikon d7500. Red Butte Garden is a great place to play with the lens after school. I love the intricate details that come out of close-ups. Sometimes when a particular plant really shines through my lens, I think of different ways I can approach it next week. Then another week comes and often that flower is gone, replaced by some other gorgeous bloom. Going to the garden every week reminds us of the truth of constant change.

A group of meditation teachers once asked Suzuki Roshi, author of the mindfulness classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, to sum up meditation in one sentence. His answer: “Everything changes.” It is easy to see the truth of constant change in our lives. We can observe the evolution of our body throughout our lives. We can reflect on changes in our preferences and habits. What I liked in my 20s is very different from what I like now. Sometimes the cycles of continuous change can be difficult. It can be hard to give up the things we love. Other times we welcome change.

The changes that characterize our lives are often beyond our control. For example, we cannot stop the aging process. Relationships change, often without our input. Friends, family and animal companions come and go. We cannot stop these changes. But we can choose how we respond. We can choose whether constant change will throw us off balance, and sometimes it certainly will. Or we can remember that the difficulties we experience in responding to change will themselves change at some point.

When we are satisfied with the conditions of our lives, we often wish that they would not change. When they inevitably change, we suffer. Have you ever been on vacation and wished it would never end? Wishing your situation was different prevents you from enjoying where you are.

When we are not so happy with what is happening in our lives, we react with disgust. Have you ever gotten mad at being stopped at a traffic light? Have you ever sat in your car and stewed until the light changed? Thus, we add unnecessary suffering to an essentially neutral situation. We may not want to stop, but is it worth the work?

These responses are natural, but they can sometimes make you feel even more anxious about the situation. We then choose to react with clinging or disgust, or to accept that our current situation is temporary and relax as much as possible.

The above situations are quite simple. Of course, there are pleasant and unpleasant situations that present much more challenges in our lives. But in these less challenging times, we can practice moderating our responses so that when greater challenges arise, we can respond skillfully. That’s what practice is all about.

We can also practice moderating our responses through meditation. In the same way that my macro lens reveals the fine details of the flowers I photograph, paying attention allows me to look intimately at the constant changes.

Try this: Put your hands together. You can interlace your fingers, put your hands in Anjali Mudraor touch your fingertips, whatever you want. Now tune in to the sensations in your hands. what do you feel There may be sensations of warmth, coolness, pressure, throbbing or vibration, or something else. Do these sensations remain constant or are they constantly changing? Practice this query for at least 3-5 minutes.

By looking closely at what appears to be the constant contact of our hands, we can begin to see that the sensations are actually constantly changing. Our hand contact is not just one thing; it is an abundance of changing sensations.

It is a microscopic view of what is constantly happening in our lives. In mindfulness practice, we can observe incoming and outgoing sensations at a very subtle level. We eventually become less reactive as we become more comfortable with the inevitability of change. When we practice mindfulness, we rest in the constant flow of bodily change. It becomes familiar enough that we no longer see change as a problem, but simply as a natural state of our lives.

Practicing mindfulness is like a musician practicing scales. You practice scales and arpeggios to create combinations of notes that you are likely to encounter when playing music. When we learn to rest in the flow of constant change, we are better able to masterfully respond to the larger changes we experience every day of our lives.

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