I’ve been thinking a lot about impermanence and how anxiety-raising it can be to live in an ever-changing world.
It, the anxiety part, crops up in conversations, classes, and online groups costumed as frustration, unease, a longing for safety or belonging. It shows up as a wish that the chaos would simply end and things could get back to normal, and a dozen other yearnings like it.
It’s so prevalent that practices to find solid ground by connecting with the earth have formed the foundation of much of my teaching and mentoring, and a good bit of my writing, for years. Because when everything is in chaos connecting with something immutable and timeless like the earth gives us something unchanging to hold on to, right?
Well……yes and no. I got the process right. Connecting with the earth is indeed a practice that eases impermanence-fueled anxiety. Where I got muddled was understanding the why of it.
Our anxiety isn’t about the idea of impermanence, it’s about wanting ourselves and the things that make us happy to be permanent.
In her book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, Pema Chodron explains it like this, “Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness.”
You see, I thought the deep peace people feel when connecting with the earth rose from her (the earth’s) solidity. Her sense of ancient timelessness. She was solid, unchanging ground on which we could rest when life went cattywampus.
I missed seeing clearly because I was looking through my own lenses of impermanence anxiety.
Our relationship with the earth sparks peace because we have connected ourselves with an expert in impermanence. Her presence feels like home because we sense both her timelessness and her fluidity.
Through tectonic growth and changes in animal and plant species, the earth shows us how impermanence, through change, becomes evolution.
She is the living, breathing proof that change and impermanence are paths to expansion and transformation. When we join her in being fluidic, we join her in flowing through expansion and transformation. We join her in evolving as physical species, and as soul beings.