“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”
~ Frida Kahlo
Everyone knows it & we don't always welcome it, but change is a constant. Whether it be getting a new haircut, moving to a new city, the arrival of a new baby, or winter turning into SPRING, changes are happening all the time. The question becomes, do we resist change or can we allow the river of change to flow through us with a courageous heart, open mind and compassion for ourselves as we navigate life?
My partner of 7 months has been spending more and more time in my smallish one-bedroom apartment (which I have occupied alone for almost 13 years). And, let's just say that I like my apartment to be kept 'a certain way'. Enter the new man in my life and his large hairy dog! Eeeekkk!! Now despite the fact that D is very considerate of my propensity for neatness and control over my space, there is not much you can do about a big friendly shedding yellow lab and add on to that a cat who likes to vomit, and the both of us and all of our stuff! Now, don't get me wrong, I really love D and I love his dog B, but
D + B + C + me + small apartment = E (entropy in matter of hours).
My old tactic was to literally (and internally) desire to put everything back neatly and exactly where it was before they arrived, and go on a mad vacuuming rampage. I wanted things to go back to the 'way they were' and in truth, that includes the feeling of sometimes wanting to go back to my 'single life' as well! What happened to my immaculate apartment free of clutter? What happened to total control of my own schedule and time? Well, what happened was that has very much changed! A few weeks ago after D and B left, I had the realization that I'm wasting my energy trying to put things back together again. And, I had the option to embrace the change and put things back together in a new way. So I began rearranging my living space, I swiped my books and magazines off of D's bedside table, and I even made a space for B in a little corner of my bedroom. Although the mad vacuuming does occasionally happen after D & B leave, D bought a swiffer and we've found a way to keep on top of the daily shedding. I think we all feel a little happier & I've actually (believe it or not) learned to RELAX a little in the midst of the chaos.
William Bridges in his book Transitions, states, "Transition is not just a nice way to say change. It's the inner process through which people come to terms with a change, as they let go of the way things used to be and reorient themselves to the way things are now." And, Sheryl Paul, whose Blog I adore, supports people going through all kinds of major life changes and helps readers develop ways to cope with change. She points out that moving is one of the top 3 most challenging life transitions, right up there with DEATH & DIVORCE (being the top 2). Yes, moving is almost as stressful to our psyche and soul as losing a loved one! This statement gave me a sense of the impact life changes have on us on a physical, emotional, spiritual and soulful level.
She also points out that our culture has stripped away traditional ways of navigating change, like rites of passage and sacred ritual. EVERY single thing in the mainstream media, magazines, movies and books tell us, for example, that when you have a new baby or get married, it should only feel joyful, easy, happy and uplifting with sparkles and fairies to boot! And, yet, if we are being real with ourselves, and dig a little deeper, we might find that changes also bring up our deepest fears, anxiety, insecurities, and wounds to be healed and tended to. Yes, change can bring about healing, growth and renewal as well if we let go of how we are 'supposed to feel'. It's important to remember that even positive, welcome change can bring up as much emotion as change that is devastating or takes us by surprise.
Here is a great blog post by Sheryl outlining the stages of change and some of the top transitions we might go through in life: http://conscious-transitions.com/overview-of-transitions.
A few years ago, I received a very helpful little outline from my friend Danny Arguetty; I think it was called the Wheel of Change. It introduces the idea that after we experience some kind of change, event, crisis or interruption to our otherwise predictable life, we don't just go 'back to normal' we have to embrace and cultivate a 'new normal'. I love this idea. Instead of futilely clinging to how things were, we actually get to turn towards our new life with an open heart, embrace the changes, and create something totally new, fresh and positive for ourselves.
I strolled downtown the other day to get a hair cut, where the decision over what to do with my wild hair can be agonizing. I didn't even think twice about it, I walked in and told my stylist to chop it all off! I thought to myself, 'Embrace change, and if you don't like the way it turns out, you can always change it again.' I felt more relaxed than I'd ever been walking into that salon. Ahhhh, change... the only constant. Thanks for reading everyone, have a lovely day full of unexpected changes to plans, surprises and delights- I must be going. D & B are coming and I really need to vacuum!
Going through changes and transitions can be extremely ungrounding and unsettling at times. Choose poses that focus on the lower chakras and nourish our roots, such as standing poses to nourish the feet and legs and slow deep hip openers. Try some restorative poses to calm and soothe the nervous system. Legs up the wall pose followed by some alternate nostril breathing is a great way to balance the brain hemispheres.
Contemplations to Deepen Your Practice:
* What changes are you currently navigating or have navigated recently? How did you handle the transition? Was it hard or easy? What helped most during that time?
* Are you craving change? Is there a change you wish to catalyze? Is there a desire to 'shake things up a bit' in your life? Give yourself permission to daydream a little about your next steps in life.
* What practices most support you when you are midst of a challenge or change? Make a list of tools that help you to feel supported, grounded and loved. Post it where you can see it each day!
* We don't always give ourselves permission to really feel what we are feeling during a life change. Take some time to journal about what you are authentically feeling or co-listen with a friend.
* Be patient with yourself! As humans, we are wired to want things to say pretty much the same, in our comfort zone. As you step out of your comfort zone, be compassionate with yourself or seek a trusted friend, guide, ally or counselor for support. We shouldn't have to do it all alone. Please check out my previous post on Self-Compassion.
"Every one of uses called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job. And onward we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another- that is surely the basic instinct...crying out: High Tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is."
- Barbara Kingsolver from High Tide in Tucson
The Way of Transformation by Danna Faulds:
Do you seek me, yet expect to
stay unchanged? Do you look
for transformation and pray each
day for the seas to remain calm?
That is not the way. If you stir
up cosmic energies, if you wake
the sleeping snake, you will pay
for your audacity. There will be
times of bliss and quiet,
but there will also be earthquakes,
tornadoes tidal waves that render
the old trail guides useless, even
in the high country. Playing it
safe will only serve to frustrate
you who hunger for the truth.
Speak your choice clearly. If you
choose to move ahead, stop at no
threat, hold no thread of nostalgia
or contentment. Break free of the
obstacles that limit your strength.
I await you just outside the gates,
just beyond the territory where
you feel safe. The source of
all you seek is before you now
if only you can see it.
As always, I'd love to hear from you. To leave a comment please hit the comments button below, and please join me on Cape Cod in May for our Spring Ocean Goddess Retreat where the ocean provides a powerful backdrop for exploring transformation in our lives.