Nothing is forever, except change’ Buddha.
Over the last week, we have in the UK, been witness to historic changes in our monarchy and in our government. It’s made me think a lot about change and how we approach it, plus how mindfulness has helped my relationship to it.
Change is inevitable. It’s a natural part of life. It is, as the saying goes, “the only constant in life”
As human beings, we don’t always navigate change well. It can make us feel insecure, fearful, worried about the future. Our brain’s efficient negative bias usually makes things even worse by immediately jumping to unhelpful worst case scenario thinking.
We tend to prefer the safer and less chaotic place of certainty and familiarity.
So, our problem with change isn’t so much the particular change; it is our resistance to it.
In our resistance, we often end up doing everything we can to prevent change, by clinging on to the familiar. We lean into routines, habits, conformity, which can temporarily help us to feel in control and “safe”.
But this comes with a huge price tag, as it often dampens down our spontaneity, our joy, our creativity. The juice of life.
We prioritise feeling comfortable and end up slightly dying inside…
Understanding and really accepting the fact that change happens, has been one of the biggest and most helpful things I’ve taken from my mindfulness practice. That life naturally ebbs and flows.
Seeing the bigger changes in my life within this context, such as my divorce, moving countries, changing careers, has been invaluable.
I did not see my divorce coming and the huge changes it brought to mine and my children’s lives, took me a long time to get my head round (plus it’s years ago and I’d only just started practicing mindfulness!)
But one of my biggest learning takeaways from this painful time – and the one I try to remember – is that I don’t always know what’s around the corner. And I practice being at peace that.
Whilst I can influence and make a myriad of different and meaningful choices, I cannot control the future or how others behave in it. Our natural and understandable response of fearfully clinging on and resisting change is, at best, not helpful and, at worst, limiting and stagnating.
As in most things in life, I think it’s a balance. A certain amount of stability and predictability is very welcome, but leaning into the inevitability of change and embracing uncertainty feels healthy, lighter and more free.
However, it’s necessary to note here that practicing non-resistance to change doesn’t mean soldiering on and ignoring any feelings that come up because of it. It’s so important for us to acknowledge, sit with and allow ourselves to feel anything that comes up as a result of change. Feelings such as sadness, grief, anger, fear, insecurity, or even excitement and liberation. Almost like a change transition phase.
Lastly, to further illustrate the theme of change, I’ve added photos of our poor old beautiful willow tree, that was struck by lightning in our garden last Thursday. It was pretty dramatic and crazy, but nature is a wonderful teacher and reminder of the inevitability and normalcy of change.
How do you deal with change in your life? Do you resist or embrace it? Or are you somewhere in between?
Lightning strikes our poor old willow tree