Change is Good! (It is all there is.)
One tenet of a mindfulness practice is the reality that all in this life is impermanent. Even that plastic bag will eventually disintegrate. Nothing last forever. Nothing.
That may seem like a pessimistic view, but it is quite the opposite. When we accept that nothing in this life is guaranteed, it can give us permission to live each moment to the fullest. We can make the choice to live deeply and fully and with vigor.
Life is impermanent. One of our favorite teachers, Gary Vaynerchuk reminds us often “You’re gonna die.” So what are you doing in the meantime? Accepting that this life is predicated on change can be a good first step.
Living mindfully shows us the truth of this statement. Observing the weather can show us (especially here in Alberta) that it can shift and change without notice. Look at the seasons and how the earth responds. Watch a child grow and change before your eyes, sometimes even from day to day! None of us are immune to the tides of change.
Much of current society benefits from our fear of change. Our brains prefer things to stay the same, which is counter intuitive to what actually occurs. We all age and show the signs of ageing. But watch any TV channel and you will see advertisements for ways to “halt the signs of ageing”. If you are blessed, you will become older in this lifetime. Not everyone has that privilege. So learning to accept that nothing is permanent can be a release. It can give one a sense of freedom from expectation to adhere to something that is not possible - not changing.
So what can you do to learn how to accept change?
Practice: There is a reason we call this a practice. By practicing, you notice the changes in your whole system, mind and body. It is the same as any other skill. The more you practice, the more change you will experience.
Embrace Mistakes: Mistakes are a place to grow from. They are inevitable. You do not know everything. Because of this, you will be faced with challenges that you will not know how to immediately solve. Make mistakes and learn from them. Mistakes cause change and change is good.
Be in Love: Love yourself. Love others. Love this world. One of our basic practices is metta or loving-kindness meditation. In this practice, we send love to people close to us and further away. We also practice loving ourselves. By practicing loving-kindness we can observe a shift in how we observe the world. We can begin to walk through it from a place of compassion and observe how this practice can shift our behavior.
Experience Adversity: Suffering is universal. You cannot escape it. What you can do is learn to live with it and accept the challenges that come your way. This version of radical acceptance can be key in shifting our perceptions of life (that it happens FOR us, not TO us) and that these moments of adversity are actually gifts. What’s better than opening a gift?
Express Vulnerability: Brene Brown is the leading researcher in vulnerability (and we love her!). She reminds us “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” By being vulnerable we open ourselves to the help of others. It can also lead to problem solving and thinking in ways we haven’t before. This type of thinking can lead to change.
Be Patient: Since we were children learning to wait can be one of the more difficult parts of life. But many of our greatest gifts come from waiting. By being patient we also give time and space for things to come up. This is a big part of a meditation practice; waiting for the magic to happen. It is from being patient in our growth process that we can bear witness to our ability to change.
Radical Acceptance: Learning to accept what is, right now, in the present moment, is an expression of freedom. From that freedom we have room to breathe and grow and change. By first accepting what is gives us permission to then move on or move through what is being placed in front of us as a challenge.
This list is not exhaustive. One of the easiest ways to accept change is to watch your own breath. We can observe how each breath has a subtle difference compared to the one before it. Therefore a mindfulness practice is one in which we learn to embrace change. Change is good.