“The true heart of all human beings is the lover of what is.” –Adyashanti
This quote has stayed with me for days as I continue to wrestle with reality. All around me change is happening at a pace that makes me feel like I am on the run. Forget about managing it, I am barely keeping pace.
I know I am not alone in this experience of being overwhelmed by change. And I don’t think it’s a phenomenon of my trying to hang onto middle age that makes me resistant. Indeed, you could argue that I am responsible for many of the changes that are moving my life along a new trajectory. I have been planning a huge move-out of our family home for over two years and I have been instigating all the changes that are now evolving my business into something I never quite imagined. And I am one of many who are both trying to keep up with and terrorized by the daily news feed on almost a daily basis.
But I also witness this struggle with reality in my son as he prepares to graduate from college and step into the open space of what comes next. He can’t quite see the next move, and the void of the unknown is hard to manage. He too can acknowledge all the ways that he has instigated the changes coming at him, but that is one of the key challenges.
Change never quite moves through our life the way it does when we believe we are planning for it. Even the most proactive people who generate change through longings and aspirations for growth are often sideswiped by the reality of what emerges as the force of change acts upon their plans at will. And so we ride this pendulum of simultaneously embracing and resisting change and often we cannot even discern whether it is a change we desired or one that has fallen upon us, which is why reality so often feels out of control.
Living on the razor’s edge of change, riding the wave of what comes at us – but still choosing and believing in our own agency to create a life – is an art that is grounded in how we think, love ourselves and rest.
Here are a few ideas that help me move closer to reality. With a little practice, any one of them can get help you feel more grounded.
1. Recognize That We Don’t See Things as They Are – We See Things as We Are.
All of life’s experiences, and especially those on the wild ride of continuous change, are first filtered through our perception of ourselves. We are a captive audience to the often-invisible voice inside our head that literally creates our lives. Resolving to listen to and befriend our own inner critic will change every aspect of how we see, hear, feel and think.
Becoming friends with reality begins by paying attention to the quality and content of our thinking. Slowly this attention becomes a form of giving yourself the benefit of the doubt, softening the hard edges of resistance and creating the space to receive which by itself can transform the unbidden changes into something good. Be aware that your ego will likely resist. Treat it as you would a stubborn child that deep down believes in his own unworthiness. Be patiently persistent in seeing your own goodness and love will follow.
2. Abide in the Present Moment
Our physical and mental well-being is everything. Literally everything. All it takes is a bout of the flu to know that we cannot move forward with any change when we are unwell. Taking care of our body is where it all begins.
The single most significant truth is that bodies need motion to thrive. Directed and conscious movement is also curative for the mind because it focuses our attention in the present. Making yourself stronger physically translates into more emotional stability and mental clarity. Building your physical endurance makes you more able to hold emotional discomfort and refresh your thinking when faced with problems.
Your body is your temple and it requires your attention every day. Raise the integrity of the food you consume. Start with just one meal a day and notice how your body feels. Notice how your emotions rest. Notice how your thinking clears when you are nourished. Cravings are asking to be witnessed, not fed. Bringing your consciousness to your body is a change that will literally embody every other good thing you desire.
3. Take Time for Rest and Embrace the Silence
We have become a culture of extreme productivity and connectivity which ironically distances us from ourselves and the people we live with. Especially during moments of change, we rely on this drive to be more productive as a measure of our effectiveness. We don’t trust the fallow moments to feed our desires.
We lose our balance every time we submit to the urgency to do more, stay later and push through our fatigue. This inability to rest is one of the greatest detractors to being able to respond positively to the changes happening around us and cripples our ability to make changes. It’s bad for your sex life, your emotional life, your family relationships and even your weight. It is the reason that we can’t turn off our devices.
Learning to get quiet will save your soul and your soul will repay you by cooperating, even encouraging the changes you seek.