When a marriage fails, a friendship terminates, we find new wrinkles and new sagging skin, we lose a job or lose a beloved pet, the facts of impermanence stare, unblinking, at us. While logically we can acknowledge that impermanence is a matter of fact, a fact of life, it is also something we fear. We fear losing our youth, people and pets we love, a job that helps us define who we are, a way of life, wealth, etc. With that fear comes suffering. Learning to let go….that’s what we are talking about today.
Today’s episode is about Death with a little d. I’ve called in our death specialist, Margaret Meloni, but we aren’t talking about dealing with the death of our loved ones or ourselves today, more about the death of less crucial things. And we are having this discussion because a section of the road to enlightenment is living with more peace and less fear, and impermanence is one of those things we get to understand better.
Tune in for what this looks like in real life and maybe come away with a new coping skill.
Margaret Meloni is used to talking about death. In fact, her second book recently hit the book stands, Sitting With Death: Buddhist Insights to Help You Face Your Fears and Live a Peaceful Life. Her first book, Carpooling with Death, was highlighted in episode 146 of the Love Your Story podcast. But I don’t want to talk about Death with a big D today. Refer back to that episode for that discussion.
Today I want to talk about impermanence. Margaret’s second season on her podcast, Death Dhamma, she is focusing on death with a little d. - the impermanence of all things and with the ability to accept that impermanence we increase the ability to create less painful life stories. So we’ll learn how to navigate the inevitability of change today.
In the audio program we'll discuss ideas like:
Can you tell us a little about how you got into the study of death?
What is death with a little “d”?
Let’s talk about the idea of impermanence. How do you define it? What does it look like in our lives? How do we accept it?
Things that we can expect to be impermanent: relationships, health, jobs, etc. What would you add to this list?
Shelley Knight said, “We are all grieving something. When we talk about grief people think it’s the death of a loved one and it’s not just that – that’s bereavement. Grief is the loss of anything with which you have an emotional connection. It could be your health, a relationship, a dream, your self-confidence, or something else. We don’t need to hide it. We need to normalize it.”
In your discussions on your podcast regarding this topic - what insight/story has stuck with you the most?
Let’s talk about: pain+resistance = suffering. Does the acceptance of impermanence help us with resistance and thus reduce our suffering? There are lots of real feelings to deal with when we lose something important to us.
What do you think is the most helpful Buddhist teaching regarding impermanence and dealing with it?
In your blog post - Master Improvisation, Master Impermanence, you talk about the rules of good improv.
“All you need to know is that there will be death, in that awareness there will be peace.” - Margaret Meloni
To Contact Margaret:
What are you grieving the loss of in your life. Maybe it’s as simple as the loss of an expectation - you expected a marriage to be happily ever after, you expected a friend to be loyal, you expected a party you threw to turn out differently. Your challenge this week is to consider the importance of things as a whole in your life. Take a deep breath and accept that inevitability. Sit with it for as long as you need, and when you are ready, stand up and live more fully into those things you love because they won’t be around forever. Life is change.
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Have a great 2 weeks.