anicca. /ˈænikə/ noun. (in Theravada Buddhism) the belief that all things, including the self, are impermanent and constantly changing.
I see various examples of the concept anicca every day when I am working with patients in the rehabilitation unit of the hospital. I am currently working with a man who is a writer and has just lost all ability to use the hand that he writes with. He expresses his frustration and that this is the longest he has ever gone without writing. This has become an extremely difficult change in his life at the moment. I can’t imagine one day suddenly not being able to do something that I love or have been doing all of my life.
To me, the concept of anicca is difficult to acknowledge at times. I am living and learning to accept the impermanence that occurs around me each day. I am aware that whether it is our physical state, mental state, where we live, the people around us, relationships we hold, our occupation, and so on, everything in our lives is constantly changing. Throughout the past couple of months, I have taken the time to notice changes as they come and go. The book “Living Your Yoga” by Judith Lassiter suggests to write down everything that has changed in the past three months and later on look back on it to see if those things have now changed. This allowed me to be mindful and notice how frequently various aspects of our lives are changing.
Throughout my yoga practice, I have intended to work towards accepting the concept of impermanence. I have come to the realization that if we cling to the idea of everything staying the same, we will in turn increase our suffering. If we fear impermanence, we fear life. As I focus on breathing throughout my practice, I realize that even no breath is the same as the last. Each breath is different from one another.
All of these thoughts have left me to examine this concept with a more open-minded perspective. Even though we may undergo difficult changes, each breath provides us the ability to start fresh, new and become present. It becomes easier to accept change when we notice that each breath provides us with a second chance to accept, regain, restore and find growth in whatever situation we may be in.
My heart continues to grow each day as I witness patients overcoming the drastic changes they may be experiencing. It is inspiring to see each patient regain their abilities and better themselves each day. Take time to notice the impermanence that is occurring in your life or may have recently occurred. Take the time to be grateful for the changes that have allowed you to start new and led you to happiness. As for the difficult changes, allow yourself to find acceptance or find the ability to grow with a second chance.