The Buddha advocated contemplating these truths everyday:

  • This body will grow old; I am not beyond ageing
  • This body will become sick; I am not beyond sickness
  • This body will die; I am not beyond death
  • Everything near and dear to me will become separated from me

Try picking one of these phrases and repeating it to yourself a few times each day. Let the reality of the truth of impermanence sink in. What happens? What changes do you notice in how you perceive yourself and your world?

Far from this being some sort of depressing exercise it is in fact a liberating one. When we accept and embrace the reality of our own mortality, we can help free ourselves from the unconscious fear of death that we all carry. Fear of death is fear of life.

Reflecting on death, ironically, helps us live more fully. It awakens us from our habitual slumber and tendency to take things for granted. What is passing is precious because it is passing. In the transience of life lies its beauty. In the realisation of the ‘givenness’ of life, and its inevitable loss, the grateful heart is born.