Practice for loss and impermanence

Loss. This past month I've witnessed many losses. Loved ones loosing houses, farms, businesses and family members. The fires have striped the landscape bare taking with it countless native animals. There is lots of sadness, heartache and grief.

I am reminded that loss is a fact of life. Impermanence is everywhere we look.

Different forms of universal wisdom may tell us to “learn and grow from it,” or that “time heals all wounds” and “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” To somebody who is suffering from a profound loss, these words can sound superficial and shallow; they can even be infuriating.

So how can we appropriately respond to loss, failure, illness, death, tragedies, calamities, injustice, betrayal, shock, trauma, grief, and life’s most hurtful wounds? Can we do so with wisdom?

Some varieties of loss are momentary, while others can be so brutal that we may never really get over what we have known and experienced; nor do we need to. The deep pain we continue to experience reminds us of our love and keeps our hearts open. We discover, often to our amazement and relief, that love is greater than time and place and even greater than death. We discover that we can hold our lost loves in our hearts even as we slowly open to new love.

With every breath, the old moment is lost, a new moment arrives. We breathe in and we breathe out. In so doing, we abide in the ever-changing moment. We learn to welcome and accept this entire process.

Yoga reminds us not to run away from our thoughts and feelings about the losses in our lives, but instead to become intimately aware of this impermanence. Just like the breath, the coming, the going. The loss, the gain. The old, the new. The Truth of the Heart.


Sit someplace where you can be quiet and alone. Try to find a place that brings you closer in touch with a sense of the natural ebb and flow of all life. Perhaps you could be beneath clouds moving across the sky, watching the waves move in and out on a beach; you can sit near a waterfall or in a park, watching a busy road or hospital entrance.

Wherever you are, get comfortable. Release the muscular tension throughout your body. Breathe in through your nostrils; breathe out through your nostrils. Do this several times until you are feeling relaxed and settled.

Rest in the moment. Stay with this awareness of breathing. Be aware, attentive, and mindful. Let your breath come and go, rise and fall. Simply be with what you are presently experiencing, beyond judgment and beyond interference or alteration. No need to suppress, avoid, numb or escape. Allow yourself to be as it is. For the moment, no need to work or figure anything out. Let it all settle, dissolve, return back to where it all arose.

Whatever environment you find yourself in, notice the ever changing nature,that around you, that within you. Your breath forever changing, your heartbeat continually beating. This continual pulse, vibration, movement, stillness. The ebb and flow. Life. In this moment be present to life.