I met Hannah when she was in the midst of extreme turmoil. Her marriage was ending, the work that she loved most in the world was no longer relevant in today’s marketplace and her daughter just started college, a two-hour plane ride away. “What else could go wrong?” she asked me with tears streaming down her face. My question to her was, “Tell me one thing that is going right.” She thought about it, “It’s something I haven’t thought about in a long while.” Then she discovered three blessings in her tattered life. “Okay,” I said, “Let’s start from there!”
Whether it’s a life detour, career bump, relationship challenge or health issues what we all need to learn from, accept, and embrace is the changes in our life. We really don’t have any choice in the matter. We can work through them or be miserable. Endless worry can break down our immune system just when we need our health the most.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
So, what can we do to “go with the flow” of change, to not resist what is happening in our lives, whether we like it or not. When you live in the moment, you have potential for real self-transformation. One of my favorite quotes is from Rama Tirtha, a Hindu mystic/poet who died in 1906: “Every little bit of experience is an occasion for a leap into the infinite.”
“Easier said than done,” you may say.
Here are a few hints to ponder as you ride the seeming storm of change:
Remember the Serenity Prayer
“Change what you can, accept what you can’t and have the wisdom to know the difference.” If there is a solution to the problem, try it or you’ll never know if it would have worked. Remember the song from the 1936 Fred Astaire musical, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” Be accountable. Finally, if you can’t do anything about it, then you have no choice but to relax and let go.
When we are in a compromising situation we often tense up. If we could just stop and take a deep breathe, what a difference it makes. The Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh lives this message and speaks of it eloquently: “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
Be enthusiastic: There are some techniques which show us how to be more positive, to allow ourselves to see the glass half full, to live in a vibration of joyful energy. Then enthusiasm returns, as if it never left, because it really didn’t go anywhere anyway. We just forgot to look; it’s like searching for the necklace that is around our own neck.
Listen to your Intuition
Our own authentic inner voice is always speaking, often we simply aren’t listening, or we don’t have enough confidence in ourselves to hear it. But we are our best advocates. Who knows you better than yourself?
There is a classic Taoist story about change:
Near China’s northern borders there was a man well versed in the practices of Taoism, his horse mysteriously wandered away. So he consulted with his villagers, but no one knew what had happened to the horse.
“Perhaps this will soon turn out to be a blessing,” said his father.
After a few months, his animal did come back, along with another five horses from the north. Everyone congratulated him.
“Perhaps this will soon turn out to be a cause of misfortune,” said his father.
Since he was well off and enjoyed taking care of his prized horses his son became quite fond of riding and eventually broke his thighbone falling from one of the new horses.
Everyone commiserated with him.
“Perhaps this will soon turn out to be a blessing,” said his father.
One year later, the northern tribes started a big invasion on the border regions. All able-bodied young men took up arms and fought against the invaders, and as a result, around nine out of the ten men died. This man’s son did not join in the fighting because he was still recuperating from the broken bone, both the boy and his father survived.
Blessings and Misfortunes Come and Go
Change is not always logical. It may make no sense, but it doesn’t have to, it is just what it is. It seems that when we are finally settled into something, unsettling happens. That’s because change is inevitable. When we build up an arsenal of tools to accept change then we can begin to move forward without the constant fear or dread of changes’ grip on our lives. We hold the power to be truly happy both mentally and physically.
As a flower essence practitioner I work through the issue of life changes a lot. It is often the first element in the laundry list of problems that layers the challenges we are currently working on. A few of the flower essences and aromatherapy oils that I often go to for issues with change are:
“People can’t live with change if there’s not a
changeless core inside them.”
—Stephen R. Covey
You can change the body’s physiological response to change, restructure thought patterns and begin to welcome change; in simple terms you can become nonresistant. When an unexpected change in plans occurs allow yourself to feel uncomfortable with it. Don’t try to detour your feelings; don’t resist them. Just be with them, as detached as you can be in that moment.
Three Tools for your Acceptance Arsenal.
1. Deep Breathing
Stress often creates tension in our bodies and when our bodies soften our mind can follow.
A simple yoga exercise (savasana) often used at the end of a yoga session, helps to relax one’s muscles. Sit in a quiet room in a comfortable chair or lie down on a mat. Rest your hands in your lap or on your stomach and keep your legs uncrossed. Close your eyes and begin to tense different muscle groups, one at a time. First tense your arms, then your legs, next move on to your abdomen, and then shoulders, neck, jaw, eyes and forehead. Hold the tension for about 10 to 15 seconds, and completely release. While you’re doing this focus on how you feel with your muscles tensed and then relaxed.
2. Bio-feedback Cue
Using a simple biofeedback cue can be a powerful relaxation trigger during periods of change.
Use a special cue that reminds you to relax when you feel unraveled. It is good to do this in the beginning before the unraveling spirals out of control. Take a deep abdominal breath and hold it for 10 seconds. Say the word “relax” or use any word(s), such as “let go” as you exhale deeply. You can make this a practice each day or use it when something pops up, at any time of the day, whether you are sitting on a bus, waiting on a line, or taking an exam.
3. Create a Life Metaphor
We all have life markers, times when we were in the midst of dramatic changes and trials, and we all survive them. This too shall pass!
As an example I will share one of my own life metaphors from over twenty-five years ago. We had just come back to the states after a two-year stay of producing a book for the government of India. We arrived with almost no money and no prospects for work. For a while we stayed with friends and then we finally found some work. But we were starting from scratch, every dish, towel and pot had to be bought anew. I discovered a small patch of dirt in front of our apartment; it was early spring and the hint of warmth was around the corner, I thought about growing tomatoes. The challenge was I couldn’t afford the tomato plants for another two weeks. I lamented my fate but I had no choice but to wait. So I waited. When I finally got my first paycheck I bought two tomato plants and some planting soil. With a large kitchen spoon I dug a hole and planted the seedling. I watered it and watched it grow everyday. It was a miracle to witness the tiny flowers, and then discover the little green ball of a baby tomato and to finally pick the first ripe sphere and eat it with relish.
These small plants produced an astounding amount of tomatoes that first summer back. It also became one of my life metaphors, one that I can go to when things seem bleak. Take a memory hike and cull out a metaphor in your own life, one that worked out in the end, one you can go to when things get tough.
“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”
Right now in my own life there are major life changes going on, as I’m sure there are in your life too. So as citizens of life we all get to put “acceptance” into practice every day, often moment-to-moment. So, the next time an untimely change occurs in your life, be like an actor on stage. Have your cue-cards ready, step into the spotlight and meet your audience with a smile. At the end of the day take a bow, go to sleep, and in the morning light be ready for the next performance.
Florique Essence Roll-ons: Change … Fearless … Uplift