Growing pains

Isn’t it strange that the only constant we can rely on in life is change, yet change is something that we seem to resist?

If you watch animals, they seem to take change in their stride pretty naturally; they live in the moment and accept what ‘is’ rather than expending energy on thinking about how things actually should be, or how much better things used to be. I love watching my parents’ dog for that reason; he teaches me so much about endless patience and acceptance.  Yet, with our expanded consciousness, we humans have somehow lost that quality – we tend to live in the past or in the future way more than in the present and this brings with it an illusory sense of being able to control what ‘is’ and a resultant resistance to unlooked-for change (this is why we tend to hang on to the past and fear the future – it’s all tied in to wanting to feel in control). When you start to observe yourself and others around you, it soon becomes painfully apparent how much we detest change and will do anything we can to avoid it.

But, the thing is, we can’t avoid it. Change will always come for us.  We can arrange things in our lives delicately, to create an illusion of being in control and then, whoosh, the carpet is swept from beneath us.  A loved one dies, we have an accident or become ill, we lose a job, a relationship ends, a friend moves away, the local supermarket stops stocking your favourite food, we begin to notice wrinkles and grey hairs, there are roadworks on your way to work! Life is full of events that are totally out of our control. And, if we’re not ready for it, this can leave us reeling, struggling to cope.

But, if we can gradually come to understand all of life is inherently transient, then we can begin to form a better relationship with change, and see it as the beautiful lubrication that allows life’s wheels to keep turning. Without change life could not exist, it is the dynamic aspect of evolution and growth. The problem is we focus on its shadow side, which is loss. To grow, expand, evolve and live fully, we have to allow loss into our lives. And, truly, loss is as beautiful as gain, as you can’t have one without the other; both are as much an integral part of the human experience as the other, and our suffering comes from resisting this fact of life. Sometimes the pain of loss is so huge it seems impossible to see beyond it, to the positive growth that it will lead to. But the growth is always there, if we allow it in.

So, in a way, the inner path is about consciously altering our relationship with change and beginning to work with it not against it.  We start to invite change into our lives, dance with it and see it for the great friend and teacher that it is. Because the inner path is all about personal growth and transformation, and to allow this, we have to let old, stale beliefs, thought patterns and identities fall away, over and over again, so we can constantly be reborn, bigger and better each time.  For this reason, to begin with at least, the path is terrifying, and that’s why most people avoid it.  The number of times I’ve heard people say something along the lines of, ‘Yes I want to change, but I’m scared of rocking the boat’ or ‘I’m scared of what I’ll become and what this will mean for xxx’ etc. Well, yes, it will rock the boat and, yes, you will change, but you will be moving further towards the truth of who you are, beneath all those beliefs, thought-patterns and identities, and you will therefore be a happier and more peaceful version of yourself as a result. And, do you know what? Those around you will feel the ripples of this change themselves; usually the boat is crying out to be rocked.  Healing is a non-local event – if you work to heal yourself, you help to heal those around you and, ultimately, the world, as we are all inherently connected.

The reason I write these words today is because I am once again in that deeply uncomfortable place of knocking on the door of change and inviting it into my life. And, even though I have been here many times before, and I am excited to be here because it’s a sign of my progress, this doesn’t make it feel any easier at all when I get to this place – the emotions of fear and unease are still there, especially because each layer of illusion we move through is deeper and therefore can be trickier to work through in some ways. But I just try and sit with these feelings, welcoming them as the positive signs of a change in the air rather than resisting them and disallowing them, understanding that the unease is inevitable, no matter how many times we come to this place, and that there is beauty in it if I am able to shift my perspective in this way. And I also know this uncomfortable period is in itself temporary and will change in time too. On the other side, if I have the courage to knock loudly on the door and walk through it, lies a bigger, better, brighter version of myself.

And what are my fears of? They are of not being accepted or approved of by those who know and appreciate this current version of myself, if I change too much, of not rocking the boat of course! But I know this is me projecting my own, stale old fears onto others, and that I have to allow my old leaves to shed and have confidence that things will work out and that my boat is well and truly ready to be rocked again. And things always do work out, one way or the other, because nothing is permanent anyway. Good times lead to bad lead to good, and in the end they are all the same, it is only ourselves that allow the judgements of good and bad to be assigned to our experiences. It is all just life, playing out in shades of black, white and everything in between, as it always has done and always will. The best thing we can do is begin to dance with change and enjoy and learn from the ride as best we can.

heart ferns

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