Hearing “change” is delightful or distasteful depending on who how you envision it. Some may wonder, “How could we possibly embrace change?”
For a meditating monk, change is a constant, and if anything, an excuse to delve deeper into the now and even into this universal truth: change is a constant.
But what about the stressed-out college students or business people keen on keeping a daily schedule? What happens when change flows into their lives? It can meet resistance. This resistance can build in the body, in the mind. Anxiety develops and maybe, even, a chronic disorder of the mind.
But we can help ourselves through practice. How can we practice in order to embrace change rather than shun it? There are 3 effective methods.
Let’s begin with meditation.
Meditation, or, the Means of Enlightenment
Some people cringe at that word, this so-called “enlightenment.” Perhaps it seems pseudoscientific or part of some mystical fantasy. But it’s actually a state of mind and non-duality that science is beginning to seriously dig into.
Enlightenment is fully embracing our inner child again—the playfulness, the eternal trust (as opposed to fretting), a sense of being utterly in love with the self that currently is. This is a meager attempt at describing the apparent vastness of enlightenment, but it will do for the purpose of this article.
So what can meditation do to drive us into this enlightened state? It can teach us loving-kindness and acceptance (more on these in later sections). Loving-kindness and acceptance have everything to do with our ability to embrace change. We’ll soon discuss how cultivating these qualities can help us tap into our inner reserves of bliss while eliminating anxiety. But first, a bit about meditation.
Meditation is the process by which we learn to “let go” amidst all of the change, twists, and turns that inevitably occur throughout our lives. Sitting and focusing on the breath—as well as coming back to the breath when the mind ventures off on streaks of “thinking”—will inevitably train the mind to let go and embrace change.
When embarking on a meditation journey, many wonder how to go about it. Some get as far as sitting with their eyes closed and then wonder “now what?” To help, here are a few simple steps to follow.
1 Sit upright. Remain relaxed yet alert.
2 Close your eyes and breathe as you normally would.
3 Focus your attention on the breath, especially the out-breath. Note that “focusing on” is much different than “thinking about.” By focusing on the breath, you’re simply bringing awareness to it.
4 It’s ok to notice or focus on other things in your present experience such as sounds and sensations (e.g. the feeling of your feet on the ground, the feeling of your clothes on your back).
5 If you find yourself wondering off on a trail of thought, simply remind yourself internally: “Thinking.” Yes, you can say this kindly to yourself. “Thinking.” This reminder is meant to be a calm, gentle way to bring you back to your breathing.
6 Aim for at least 10 to 20 minutes of meditation per day.
Embrace Change Through Loving-Kindness
So what is it about change that triggers us? Why does change spike our stress levels and make us lose sleep at night?
Change can stem from insecurity, a deep mental narrative of “I’m not safe,” or for some, even “I’m not loved. I’m not protected.” All of this neurosis ultimately comes from a lack of loving-kindness towards ourselves. How?
When we fear and resist change, we are actually committing subtle aggressions against ourselves. Everything is always changing. Always. We learned about entropy in high school science classes. Even your body is in constant change, even your mind. You aren’t the same person you were when you started reading this article.
Understanding the nature of the universe (including the nature of ourselves) can help us cultivate loving-kindness toward ourselves. There is a saying by Taoist authority Lao Tzu, renowned author of the Tao te Ching. He says this: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
The process of developing this state of mind comes from meditation and cultivating loving-kindness (which can often arrive as a result of meditation). Loving-kindness helps us embrace change by making us feel secure in ourselves, secure in a feeling that everything will be alright no matter what changes occur in our lives.
Embrace Change Through Acceptance
Meditation also teaches us acceptance, teaches us to “let go.” Letting go doesn’t mean not trying or aiming to improve our situations. It means that when an uncomfortable thought (or change) comes up, we study it and accept it instead of reacting to it.
Discomfort is a real, raw teacher if we let it be, and the point of meditation is to invite the discomfort in so might we befriend it. In the meantime, we should accept whatever else comes up. We’ve got to just sit with it all.
Once we’ve used the above meditation technique for some time, we’ll begin to notice that changes, even if “bad,” don’t affect us like they used to. At that point, we’re more accepting.
And while we’re on the subject of “bad” changes, I’ll just say that “bad” is a label we assign to changes without knowing their long-term consequences. In the short-term, they may seem annoying, difficult, and even painful. But they can reveal opportunities and teach healing. They can be “good” changes in the grand scheme of things.
Some Words on Enlightenment
An issue we may run into while embarking on the so-called “spiritual journey” is falling for this idea that the journey is about becoming something that we’re currently not—even if that something is something “better.”
Through meditation, we can come to see that this “enlightenment” is really an experience of deep self-acceptance, acceptance of everything we currently believe we are: fearful, lonely, compassionate, out of shape, sick, kind, intelligent, and so on.
Because in reality, all of these things mush together and make what we are: extraordinary human beings. A monk once taught me that to a truly enlightened person, the difference between wisdom and neurosis is very hard to perceive.
To say the least, learning to embrace change will help us embrace everything we are. We are a living embodiment of transformation, and change is the only constant in the universe.
Interested in more ways to live your best life? Visit TelMD Resources.
Let’s make wellness contagious!™
September 10, 2019
Everything begins with how we think. Which dictates how we feel and act. Which determines what we attract.
April 26, 2020
In unprecedented times like these, it is essential that you learn to relax your mind and reduce stress as much as possible. If you’re finding that hard to do, you’re not alone.
August 15, 2019
Mindfulness is the health trend that’s gained momentum for decades now. Which mindfulness techniques are most effective for eliminating the mind’s excessive, unnecessary chatter?