During my 10-day meditation course of Vipassana I have learnt about the concept of "anicca". Anicca comes from Buddhism and means impermanence. We have learnt that everything, literally everything, is impermanent and is changing or will change: you, me, nature, the whole world are transitory and will disappear at one point in time. Everything that comes to life is subject to change. It’s the obvious changes such as people aging, season changing from spring to summer and varying thoughts and feelings. However, there is much more than these big changes. The small changes that happen from second to second are less noticeable. As you are reading this, your nails are growing, millions of your cells are dying and are being replaced by new ones and the fruits in my fridge are going bad as I am writing. These changes do not happen overnight but are an accumulation of smaller changes.
Often, we tend to forget about this in our daily grind. We are programmed to seek after everything that feels good (delicious food, a nice dress and pleasant feelings) and to avoid less satisfying experiences (mental pain such as a heartache or physical pain in form of an illness). Makes perfect sense, right?
However, as I have learnt in the meditation retreat, we tend to want the beautiful things in life a little bit too much. Thus, we develop a dependence between us and that thing, person or emotion. This can quickly change to an unhealthy clinging and to more pain as soon as that very thing, person or emotion is gone.
The same goes for the less enjoyable moments in life. We are trying as hard as we can to avoid the less pleasant experiences and this uses a lot of our energy. I learnt it the hard way when I was sitting cross-legged on the floor for 11 hours per day and tried to meditate. I felt sooo much pain in my legs and my back already after 30 minutes. I wanted to scream and pull my hair out. We learnt however, not to give our pain too much attention and to rather remind ourselves that this pain will go away… eventually. And it worked! The pain was still there, but I learnt to deal with it much more effectively since I focused and didn’t give it too much importance.
Anicca is a valuable lesson for me and reminds me that everything is impermanent and that it will fade away sooner or later, the good and the bad in life. It reminds me to enjoy the beautiful experiences in life much more, knowing, that I might not feel it again. The same goes with the pain I feel. Whether it’s a heartache, an illness or the pain in my legs and my back when I meditate. It will go away, it’s impermanent. It’s not worth it to give it too much attention. We can observe the pain and think of “anicca” and remember: Nothing lasts forever.
Knowing this gives me so much ease. I hope it gives you the same. Anicca to all of you!