April 30, 2010

Change: Adapting to the Inevitable

We know things need to change, in our own lives and out in the world. You can ask almost anyone what needs to change in life and they will have answers. Ideas and opinions of what needs to change are as varied and diverse as the people offering them.

When the idea for change comes from within ourselves, we usually like it. It is inspiring. But when change comes in as an independent with a mind of its own, it can seem like a rebellious teenager. Just when we think things are calm it sulks around, keeps us awake at night, and makes us want to gain greater control.

Wise souls among us know that change is all we can truly depend on. We can’t escape it, though we try, and in many cases we must let it be. Mostly we try to avoid change because we have no idea what is in the future and we really don’t want to alter our world view. We decide it is best to keep things as they are, or how they used to be. Plus, we don’t want to experience the feelings of loss that often accompany change. What if we terribly miss what we had?

The idea of change, and change itself, brings up unnecessary fear which then causes unwarranted stress on the body and mind. I believe one of our tasks as human beings is to overcome fear, especially the useless fears that pervade our modern lives. I see fear restricting the body, mind, and spirit, shrinking one’s life experience into an uncomfortable little box. It takes our minds to dark narrow places where we lose a broader, more balanced perspective.

We will always have the unknown future in front of us, unpredictable circumstances will occur in our lives, our country and its people will do or say things we don’t like. At these times, we have the opportunity to either grow our fear or live every moment as if it were sacred, remembering that even the most unusual of circumstances can be profoundly healing and enriching, bringing in higher wisdom and understanding.

One way to overcome fears that arise due to change is to develop a sense of trust and faith in something greater than yourself, such as a belief that there is something beyond the ordinary mundane life. World religions and philosophies have sought to provide this for people, but many of them have fallen short of actually teaching a person how to be free from useless fears. The responsibility is on each individual.

Each time we begin to share our fears of uncertainty with others or swirl them through our heads, we can stop and take a moment to think about whether we want to be stuck in this stressful cycle. Fears grow stronger when we think about them and share them with others who then validate them by agreeing and adding in their own fears.

One way to reduce fear rather than expand it is simply to become aware of it, knowing that the wiser path welcomes change, accepts the inevitable, and chooses not to fear it. By becoming aware of our habitual reactions to the unknown future, by acknowledging our resistance to the feelings loss brings, by being aware of the times when someone says something that refutes our world view and ignites our own fears, we can begin to approach life in a more balanced way.

When we try to keep our lives, surroundings, and viewpoints the same, something will surely come along to roll them around a bit, and thankfully so. Do we really want to live a life so thin and safe that there is no new experience, expansion, or advancement of the mind and spirit? In these rapidly changing times, which I predict are just gaining momentum, the more we can flow with change and allow our minds to be free, the better off we will be. Perhaps in the process, we can grow calmer, wiser, more mature, and more peaceful.

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