For the past few days I have been thinking a lot about change. This inquiry came about when I suddenly found myself having a melt down. It started as a little bit of irritation, that soon became annoyance and agitation. These feelings soon transformed into sensations of anger and rage, which then developed into a sense of powerlessness and grief. And through it all, there was a sense of resistance and guilt that I was having these feelings in the first place. When this guilt, resistance, anger, hopelessness, and helplessness finally reached its climax, the damn broke and I fell apart. And you know what, at that moment, the change I had attempted to orchestrate, the plans and strategies I had attempted to use to “manage” the stress I had been experiencing by all the things that were currently on my plate, just dissipated. At that moment, when I finally surrendered to the reality of what was going on in my life, and my feelings about those things, everything instantly became easier. I felt I could breathe a lot more effortlessly.
This realization of course got me to thinking – what is it about change, or more specifically surrendering to change, that has me so resistant? Why is there the tendency to sometimes fight or avoid things that are new and different – even when those things may be closer to what we want? Why is so much discomfort and uncertainty evoked with the mere notion of change, of growth, of evolution?
If one were to reach back into yogic philosophy, the answer becomes obvious: Attachment. If I could pick up the phone and call Yogic Philosopher Patanjali, I am sure he would say I fear growth, change, and evolution because I am attached to the way that things are and cling tenaciously to my limited vision of the world. He’d likely, add that avidya (ignorance) was another culprit. That is, he might suggest that I fear change because I not only mistakenly believe I have power to control the world around me, but also am in denial about the reality that everything in life changes.
Buddha, if I could email him, might offer similar advice and instruct me to focus on directing my attention on the impermanence of life and the realities of the moment. His advice might be to let go of the past and the future and instead find balance in the present by practicing gratitude for the things happening within this moment.
The question I have for each of you, the question I am attempting to ask of myself, is where are you experiencing change and what is your relationship to it? Are you resisting it? Or are you able to fully embrace and surrender to the gifts that this new thing is welcoming into your life?
Wherever change is present in your life, I would like to encourage you to continue to check in with your immediate reaction towards the new and unfamiliar. There is no need to do anything about it, simply notice your reaction and whenever possible see if you can surrender and soften your immediate reactions. For its only by first noticing our tendencies that we are capable of determining what actions may need to be taken and then make those changes as necessary.