“Change is the only constant in life.”
Autumn is a time of enormous change. The Summer to an end, kids and teachers are back at school and older students are about to start on a new phase of life, moving to University or on to the beginning of their careers.
As we move into autumn, nature changes too. All of the bountiful products of the summer sun come to fruition and it is time for the harvest. Many cultures give thanks at this time of year.
Throughout our lives we change, in fact life can be considered a journey. Childhood is in constant flux. We are born with no knowledge just survival instincts. As we grow, we adapt to our environment and our family and develop into the person that is a compromise between what we want to be and what is approved of by those who care for us.
In this fluid time children are in fact hugely resilient. Everything is new and therefore unknown and as long as they have a constant positive role model they cope with whatever happens.
In adulthood we settle down into routines of work and home and life can become secure and comfortable. In this scenario, change can generate fear. What is known is safe, what is unknown may be perceived by the psyche as perilous, because it is just that – unknown. Why make a change when the outcome is not assured?
This fear can leave us stuck in job we do not enjoy, a relationship that is not healthy, habits that are toxic or negative cycles of thoughts feelings and behaviours that do not serve us.
In truth, change is inevitable, it is happening all around us continually and this is the only thing that is absolutely certain. The Buddhist principle of impermanence or Annica is based on this truth. Some things change too slowly for us to notice, others so fast we miss it.
What is important is how you respond when you feel the impact of change. Do you look backwards and reminisce (possibly with rose coloured glasses) or lament what has been left behind? Alternatively do you only look forwards wishing for change, needing it, in a ‘the grass is always greener’ mindset?
Instead, we advocate balance. We can appreciate that progress is impossible without change without racing into it indiscriminately.
Consider a more mindful approach to change. This consists of paying attention to and appreciating what is happening around us right now whilst letting go of the need for those things. As The Buddha taught, need and attachment lead to suffering. Instead be grateful for what you have, enjoy it and do not mourn when it is gone.
Never fear change, remember, fear is our Psyche trying to protect us. We must acknowledge this and move past it. Our recent article ‘A Conversation with Fear’ will help with this.
When change is happening and we are struggling with it, talk about it, approaching it as an opportunity to learn changes your perspective.
When change is happening and you are feeling unsettled use this meditative exercise to help reduce your negative thoughts and feelings.
Find a quiet comfortable place
Close your eyes
Take 3 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth
Place your feet squarely on the floor and imagine roots reaching down into the earth grounding you
Now imagine a silver thread from the top of your head connecting you to the cosmos and the infinite potential of the Universe
Relax your shoulders and your face
Feel any tension draining away
Now bring your attention to a physical thing to anchor you in the present moment – your breathing or your heart beat
In this relaxed comfortable place you are safe and secure
You can examine without concern
Now bring to mind the change that you feel is affecting you most
What feelings does this generate?
You are observing these feelings only, rather than feeling them
Ask why the change should generate such unease
Ask yourself if such feelings are helpful
Ask whether the thoughts and beliefs that generated them are even true
Now think about what this change can teach you
Now think about the possible benefits associated with the change
What feelings do these thoughts generate?
How do you want to feel?
Continue to breathe slowly and deeply
Make the conscious decision to choose your thoughts
To view the change as an opportunity for growth
When you are ready bring yourself back to full awareness ready for what the next stage of your journey has to offer