“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they're meant to be. Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.“ - BKS Iyengar
Tibetan Buddhist World View One: Everything is always changing. It is obvious and undeniable. Some change we seek, and some happens to us whether we want it or not, but what is our relationship to change? How do we respond and navigate the route, especially when the destination feels uncertain?
The older I get, the more I feel this is the heart of life, the essence of reality. Just when we think we’ve got it, something new arises. Just as we think we’re about to touch land after a long journey, a hurricane comes and blows us back out to sea. The scales are always dancing as they strive to create balance. When we start to live that, world view one makes deep sense: accept that everything is always changing and you’ve got the compass to sail through life in all it’s flowing beauty as well as through it’s chaos and storms.
The accepting part is where it can get slippery. Even when the change is sought, welcome and joyful, we might still worry (will we lose it?) or sabotage it (are we worthy?). Sometimes it is easier to stay with what we know, even if it is not for our highest and best. It’s safe. And when the change is not sought or pleasant or perhaps is full of risk and uncertainty, we can create a cozy little home for fear, anxiety and negativity to burrow in. And we chase our tails trying to control and guarantee the outcome. Finally, and this is the toughest one, when the change is completely unexpected and unexplainable (illness, loss, death), the darkness comes and climbing out of it’s hopelessness can feel impossible.
The main ingredient of the recipe of change is uncertainty. Will it last? Will it work out? Will I be ok?
Looking back at my life at the places where I’ve been the happiest and the places I’ve been the most wretched as a result of change, I’ve experienced all of those scenarios and asked all those questions. I’ve sabotaged relationships and opportunities out of fear of losing them down the line anyway. I’ve experienced loss in various forms, but none as painful as the precious parts of myself I cannot get back. And yet…
I’ve learned from my mistakes. And this doesn’t mean I don’t still make them. I just make them much less frequently and I catch myself while I’m in them sooner so I don’t prolong and extend the problem. And I feel wiser. Wisdom stems from change.
And those parts of myself that I can’t get back, I’ve mourned them, blessed them, and thanked them for coming and for going because in their place, new skin and flesh and limbs and breath and perspectives and heart rhythms have grown and flourished that nourish and are strong and supple and adaptable. Alchemy stems from change.
Finally, change that involves trauma and loss can be the most challenging to transmute. And my experiences in this area are still in process, my healing still evolving. But I think healing sometimes can look like living “with” our pain and grief and not “from” them. And this builds strength. Endurance stems from change.
Our body holds these lessons for us as well in it’s bones and in the energetic realm. Just when I think I've got an asana down, I realize there are more nuances to it...or a new one rises up in it's place that calls me to explore and let it change me from the outside in. Much like life- we figure out one thing and another mystery moves in to solve or explore or get through. If this wasn't the case, the rhythm of the universe always changing beat, how stale and predictable the dance would be.
My yoga practice has been an invaluable metaphor for change and it’s transformative powers. I’ve been practicing for almost 19 years now on and off. When I began, I had no interest in challenging poses. I wanted the relaxed movements. I loved Hatha and Restorative and I wanted to bliss out in Savasana. And so I did and that led my bodies (physical, mental and energetic) to Kundalini yoga, which expanded my awareness and consciousness and self connection to understand that I was ready for Vinyasa and Ashtanga. And without realizing it, I had a yoga practice that ranged from Supta Baddha Konasana to Kriyas to headstand and crow. This did not happen overnight and the journey was fraught with self doubt, resistance, stopping and giving up, and then starting over again. There were some injuries to both body and ego: 19 years worth of unearthing and dragging up and out all the complicated emotions, thoughts and patterns of my being through movement and breath and meditation. Sometimes without me being cognizant - I just showed up and trusted the process and the work happened almost behind the scenes until one day, the ultimate transformation came by way of life and commitment to my practice when I became a teacher. Transformation as practice.
It is not easy. It is life’s eternal practice this acceptance of change as inevitable and reality as uncontrollable but if we can sustain the trust that it is all happening as it should for our highest and best transformative experience; if we can keep showing up and opening to a willingness to make space for it to be whatever it needs to be, we will have one of the keys to living with more peace and ultimately joy.