We are a country divided, as the past election showed us, driven by conflicting viewpoints and approaches to problems. Essentials of life, such as finances and healthcare, have very different meanings to different people. And with a split government, such differences tend to end in gridlock. All of which implies that, as a whole, we are looking at drawn out economic problems, endless healthcare arguments, and an abiding sense of uncertainty in our lives. We hesitate to contemplate what the future may bring.
Such uncertainty, added to with opposing views on climate change and constant global tension, can create fear, turmoil and even panic. So how do we live with this? How do we live with the unknowing and insecurity? In fact, when everything seems hopeless is the very time we have the chance to grow into something better. Remember, what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly! But, like a butterfly, the journey to such growth can be difficult, including having to possibly transform ourselves as completely as a caterpillar does.
Perhaps the best way to adjust is by recognizing that if constant change is inevitable, as it is fundamentally the essence of all life, then that doesn’t mean it has to be negative, for there is equally the potential for positive change in every moment. Here are 4 ways of surfing the waves of change that work for us:
1. Recognize that nothing is permanent
Nothing lasts, whether money, jobs, thoughts, feelings, or loved ones; everything is constantly changing, life never stands still. As Yoga Master Swami Satchidananda said, “Life is all about coming and going.” Everything that is happening now will change into something else, every structure will one day collapse, and new forms will be created, just as the cells within our bodies are constantly dying and recreating. Without change in ourselves we become stifled and stagnant; without change in the world we will not survive. Such impermanence means that every difficulty, challenge, joy, or success will, at some point, be different: this too shall pass.
2. Be With What Is
Even when times are tough, resistance is the quickest route to further discomfort and unhappiness. When we resist we put up walls or try to push the anxiety away, but this inevitably leads to unfulfilled desires and further discontent. Acceptance enables us to be with what is, to create spaciousness and room to breathe. Then we can make friends with our circumstances, instead of longing for things to be other than what they are. Being with what is means we release any need to know what the outcome of a situation might be.
3. Know that each day is a new beginning
Just as palm trees transform muddy water into sweet coconut milk, so we always have the opportunity to transform fear into courage, selfishness into kindness, and loss into a new beginning. We are capable to creating a new life for ourselves with every breath, word and action. We just need to put one foot in front of the other.
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. -- Maria Robinson
4. Stay grounded and calm
As every wave has both a crest and a dip, the clue to surfing is being able to paddle in the dip so we are ready to ride the next crest. Two of the best ways that we have found to help ourselves cope with the dips are yoga and meditation. Yoga releases physical and mental stress and relaxes the body, while meditation develops a peaceful and joyful mind. They enable us be present with what is, as well as to accept and live with change.
Here’s a meditation to help you stay calm and present. It is based on the flow of breath, which is like an anchor that gives us stability and steadiness. And just as the breath comes in and goes out, so it is like the coming and going of all aspects of life. Practice for a few minutes or as long as you like.
Sit upright and relax. Breathe in and out gently, simply watching the natural rhythm of your breathing. Follow the flow of your breath and let your mind relax into the rhythm. With each in breath silently repeat, “May I be well, may I be peaceful, may I flow with the changes.” With each out breath let your heart smile gently.
See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.
Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.
Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.edanddebshapiro.com