Change can be daunting. It can push all our buttons, fear and confusion can arise, doubt or insecurity as such a time is full of so many unknowns. We are personally dealing with big changes right now: selling our house, downsizing, finding the next place, getting the timing right, letting go of all that was and opening to all that will be. But this also makes it a great opportunity to remember that the deepest essence of all life is change.
The world around us is not the same as it was just a moment ago. Babies have been born, people have died, clouds have passed overhead, waves have risen and fallen. We were walking along the River Dart in southwest England, watching the water. It looked the same yet is in constant motion, never the same for even a second. Who we are now is not who we were last year, last week, yesterday, even a few minutes ago. Already our thoughts are different, some of our cells have died while others have been created; our feelings, beliefs, even our relationships are as changeable as rain and sunshine, or night and day.
There’s tremendous freedom in knowing that this is the way life is, that all things will pass. But, as much as change is inevitable, it’s not always welcome or easy. Rather, it can be disorientating and conflicting. Here are 4 ways to guide you through the changes that change inevitably brings, by incorporating mindfulness and awareness:
1. Impermanence is unavoidable
Everything that is happening now will change into something else; every thought and feeling, no matter how intense or dramatic, will one day be different. Every structure will one day collapse, and new forms will be created. Life never stands still. Awareness of this reality allows us to pay attention to feelings as they arise, whether fear or grief, to stay mindful of our reactions, and to know that every difficulty, challenge, joy, or success will, at some point, be different, that this too shall pass.
2. Transformation is always possible
Just as palm trees transform muddy water into sweet coconut milk, so we can transform fear into courage, selfishness into kindness, and loss into a new beginning. We can create ourselves with every breath, word and action. We just need to put one foot in front of the other. If everything looks hopeless we have the chance to grow into something better: what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly. To grow into a butterfly simply takes patience and awareness.
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. Maria Robinson, author
3. No more resistance
Even when times are tough, resistance is the quickest route to further discomfort and unhappiness. Acceptance enables us to be with what is, to create spaciousness and room to breathe. Then we can make friends with our circumstances instead of longing for things to be different from what they are. Resistance to change is resistance to the meaning of being here, which is to become something more than what we were before.
4. Keep on moving
The clue to transformation is being able move with the waves, to paddle in the dip so we are ready to ride the next crest. Being with the flow is being able to deal with whatever arises in each moment. Meditation creates a space where times of pain, sadness, anger, fear, hurt, confusion, doubt, and all other conflicting emotions can arise, be known and gently released. It enables us to be present with whatever is and to accept, embrace, and move with change. We watch without denying, pushing away or holding on.
Here’s a meditation for staying present. It’s based on the breath, which is like an anchor that gives us stability and steadiness. And just as the breath goes in and out so it is like the coming and going of all things.
Sit upright and relax.
Breathe in and out gently, simply watching the natural rhythm of your breathing.
Follow the flow of your breath and let your mind relax into the rhythm.
With each in breath silently repeat, “May I be well, may I be peaceful, may I flow with the changes.”
With each out breath feel your heart smile gently.