“Change is the only constant in Life.”
I used to say that I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into my future. I was no fan of change. That was a fear-driven way of being in the world. It was also a symptom of a victim consciousness.
I now see myself as the co-creator of my future, together with the higher powers that work with and for me to bring good things into my life. I have emphatically re-ordered my relationship with change. Having found and practiced another way of looking at the unfolding events in life, looking at them at least with equanimity and at best with anticipation, I am happier and more balanced.
Without question, some changes are unwelcome and even terrifying at times. Threats to our health and well-being are commonplace and hugely challenging. Even demonstrably good changes can frighten you. Self-doubt creeps in when you’re on the cusp of a career change, for example. Children leaving the nest is normal and natural but one of the harder adjustments parents must navigate. So how can we come to relate to change in a calm and skillful way?
A daily mindfulness practice of some kind is essential. When this practice is in place in your life, you can relate to whatever comes your way with confidence. The confidence is that you will know how to respond, where to seek help and support, or whether to walk away. Choices abound as far as mindfulness practices in today’s world. You do not need to follow any particular spiritual path to embrace mindfulness. Meditation, Qigong, journaling, and yoga all offer techniques easily learned to put space between you and your un-skillful responses to change. It is that space that offers you the power of choice rather than a reflexive or programmed response to what is happening.
Arguably, the most important tool to alleviate suffering around change is to stay in the moment you are in. The Now is the place where your power resides, not in past regrets or an imagined dire future. Your can ask yourself a simple question: What problem do I have right now? If you identify a problem in the Now, then you can do the next right thing. In stillness the path forward reveals itself. The present moment only requires that you pay attention.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the changes that can bring us to our knees: death of a loved one, illness, loss of a home or one’s livelihood – these changes are not only unwelcome but can shatter our assumptive world. Yet even in the face of these heartrending challenges, the way forward is the same. Yes, we need to grieve and process but mindfulness and choosing the next right thing are tools that mark the difference between resistance, which causes more pain, and acceptance, which leaves us open to grace in the tough times.
I love to observe animals both domestic and wild. Their way of being offers countless lessons for us to bring to bear in our human lives. Animals don’t ruminate over the past or dread the future. Change comes to their lives every bit as much as to ours. Alertness, anticipation, acceptance, and action come naturally to animals. Watch and learn!