The Five Reflections are said each day by Buddhist monks in meditation. Here is a brief summary of Noah Levine’s Youtube video on “Five Daily Reflections.”
I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging. Reflect upon your aging process. We are destined to grow old; this body is in a process of decay. Impermanence is happening within this body and we are not free of aging.
I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness. Reflect upon your relationship to sickness and disease. How much aversion do I have to illness and how do I treat my body when I get the flu? A more serious disease? This body is susceptible to illness and disease and difficulties of being human. We shouldn’t be a victim–this is what the body does, not as a reflection of what you eat, whether you exercise, etc. You still get old and sick. There is definitely something important about being healthy, but also in accepting the limitations of our existence.
I am subject to death; I have not gone beyond death. Say it aloud: I am going to die. This body, so alive right now, is impermanent. The time of death is unknowable, but it arrives. I am not exempt from this faith; face it. Befriend it without denial and fear or the change of death into a punishment or a failure. Death is a natural process.
I will separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved from me. I will lose fucking everything. We cannot hold on to everything forever; anything we cling to will cause suffering. Daily we should remind ourselves to live in harmony with impermanence, which is not to say that we live in disconnection or detachment, avoiding love, intimacy, joy, etc., but rather to be in community, be in relationships, be connected. Enjoy our impermanent relationships, love, and stuff.
I am the owner of my actions. Heir to my actions. Born of my actions. Related through my actions. I have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do for good or for evil, that I will inherit. Our only true possession is our karma; the only thing we have is our actions. Our behavior is the only true thing. Our happiness or unhappiness will happen based upon how we act; how we speak; how we listen; how treat others; how we treat each other; how we think. We have the power to influence; therefore, we have power over our own state of mind. Create the karmic conditions for happiness. What you want and what you do–the actions you take.
Karma is the actions that we take and the fruits that these actions take: mindfulness, forgiveness, compassion, kindness–this is the karmic momentum that leads to well-being and happiness. What kind of positive changes could happen in the world if it was at ease with change and impermanence and more karmically responsible.
May all beings benefit from the wisdom and the compassion that develops in these five daily practices.