I was meditating in my backyard when a handful of flies landed on my body.
They walked around my feet. And my shoulders. And my legs. All over the place with their tickly little legs.
In the moment when they landed, it was uncomfortable. And as a result, I felt like I NEEDED to do something to make it go away.
Swat them away. Wriggle a bit. Open my eyes and count how many there were.
Something (!) to ease the discomfort.
But…when I meditate, I sit in strong “Strong Determination.” Which means I don’t move during the meditation. Not one bit.
So instead of acting on my impulse to move, and eliminate the discomfort of the flies, I sat with it.
Discomfort Isn’t a Bad Thing
Uncomfortable sensations are just as good of an object of mindfulness as anything else.
As I sat and observed, the sensations continued to grow as a few more flies landed on my body, parading around my skin, tickling small hairs as they moved.
But then…in time…they flew away. Or they stopped moving.
I’m not sure what happened exactly, but eventually the discomfort was gone!
What once felt so pressing to address was now a non-factor. And I didn’t need to do anything to make it happen.
Which brings to mind an important truth about life: Everything is impermanent.
Anicca is the Pali word for “impermanence.”
And it’s one of the universal truths of our world. Everything is impermanent.
I didn’t need to brush the flies away and spoil my meditation by break my intention to not move. Eventually, they just moved on.
Thoughts = Suggestions
Every impulse you experience is a suggestion, not a commandment.
In a moment of discomfort, you might have the thought that you NEED to do something about it or you won’t be okay.
But it’s not true. Thoughts are merely suggestions. You needn’t take them all so seriously.
- The urge to snooze and stay in bed? Just a suggestion that you don’t need to listen to.
- The impulse to check email / social media / notifications for the 27th time today? Just one option in a list of many.
- The urge to eat that donut in the break room? Again, merely a temporary appearance in your mind.
Observation –> Intentional Action
There’s no need to react to thoughts and take them as a must-do.
After all, if you sit back and observe the thought/feeling, it’ll be gone in no-time.
- What if, instead of acting on the impulse, you simply observed it instead?
- What if, instead of resisting the uncomfortable sensations, you welcomed them in with open arms?
- What if, instead of contracting and grimacing, you relaxed, expanded, and smiled?
Then, you might find yourself remembering Anicca. You might see the sensations change and the discomfort fade away. Impermanent, like everything else.
You might also find yourself feeling a greater sense of control over your life.
One where you’re free to act with intention. To behave in a way that’s aligned with your values and priorities. To show up in the way that you want.
Put it Into Practice: Smile and Welcome
Recognize that all things are impermanent. Thoughts, feelings, relationships, events…even our lives!
- When something uncomfortable arises: Smile and welcome it, without resistance. Allow yourself to stay in your power despite the discomfort, knowing that it’s temporary and will pass along in time.
- When something pleasant arises: Smile and welcome it, without attachment. Enjoy each moment of it, knowing it too will pass.
This week, the challenge is the same no matter your circumstance.
Breathe, smile, relax, expand, and welcome all of life’s beauty your way.