Everything Changes

Ocean waves with sun

In September I sent my teenager off to their first day of 8th grade. The ritual of school mornings these days looks and feels a lot different than it did 8 years ago – the freshness of early childhood has given way to adolescence.

Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi, when asked by a beginning student to boil down a talk on impermanence, responded with “Everything changes.”

In meditation practice this is one of the first things we notice; from body sensations to thoughts, experience is always in transition. For a long time change was a thrilling concept for me. Mindfulness practice offered an array of exciting ways for me to stay engaged.

Inevitably, my practice became less new and exciting – at times it felt like a pill that I knew I needed to swallow – but it was the pill without the thrill. I was dismayed – how could something that had been provocative and joyful make me so resistant?

One way that I attempted to meet these challenges in my practice was to meditate more. This was supportive to some extent, but eventually the “try harder” approach led me to overwhelm and burnout.

Disheartened, I assessed the possibilities. If my practice was unfixable, why not just give up?

The wonderful thing about Mindfulness is that we can notice what is happening with compassion. Noticing the experience of apathy or disappointment with tenderness is good Mindfulness. A question that I’d overlooked was, “Am I doing this with heart?” With compassion I could be alongside myself while this difficulty unwound. In short, I ended up accepting the idea of giving up.

Surprisingly, giving up gave my practice the opportunity to mature. When I stopped reaching for the next exciting teaching or technique in order to escape boredom, I was able to just “be” without adding the exhausting activity of having to fix. Change is difficult enough on its own!

Upon picking my teen up from school they shared their highs and lows and funnily enough they reported boredom as the theme of the day, but the expression of their experience lacked the apathy from earlier that morning. My teen, for the time being, had landed back in their heart.

Join Megan Heiser and James Rosser, LCSW, for MSC Half-Day at Benedict Canyon Retreat House on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 10:00 AM. (Prerequisite Note: Due to the specific nature of the MSC practice, this event is for current students and graduates of MSC and SC-MSC only.)

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