Have you ever found yourself believing that change is difficult? Or been challenged by others who are resisting change?
Change is a fundamental human experience, it is inevitable. Either we are growing and learning or we are stagnating, atrophying and dying, but we are always changing.
Why would we resist something that is inevitable?
Because, we fear it.
Specifically we fear the potential to experience the pain that may come with change. When we anticipate pain, the same centres in our brains that process actual physical or emotional pain are triggered. We begin to experience the pain of our premonitions, even though the event has not, and may never, come to pass.
To avoid pain we waste a lot of energy trying to control things outside of our control – other people, resources, even our own thoughts. We tend to be more motivated by the desire to avoid pain than the desire to experience pleasure.
It keeps us safe, but can also cage us.
Yoga can help us to shift this tendency and rewire our neurology, to be less pain avoidant, more behaviourally flexible and accepting of change. Yoga teaches us that it is not what happens to us, rather, it is our mind’s perceptions of life’s events that determines whether we experience them as painful or not. So-called painful events are part of being alive.
Suffering, however is a choice.
The nature of this choice is explained, in part, through the yama (social discipline) of Aparigraha, meaning non-attachment and non-grasping. The practice of Aparigraha asks us to see all material attainments as transitory, to let go of what we no longer need and to open to receive from a benevolent and generous Universe that acts in support of our evolution.
Practices of gratitude, generosity and mindfulness meditations expand our capacity to accept life as it comes with equanimity.
These practices will expand your capacity to accept change:
De-clutter: Practice trusting in the Universe’s generosity by giving away things that you no longer need. This practice clears out stagnant energy in your home, creating room for fresh energy to circulate.
Be Grateful: Every day make a list of 5 things you are grateful for. It’s a great way to start the day or to end it by sharing your list with friends or family.
Meditate: Learn to drop the struggle to control your thoughts through mindfulness meditation. Simply start by following the breath with your mind from the moment it enters the body, to the moment it leaves. Allow any intrusive thoughts to come and go, without judgement.
Perform a Letting Go or Manifestation Ritual: Ritual is a powerful tool for directing and refining our thoughts about change. By engaging in a ritual to let go of something, or to call something into our lives we build neural pathways that cause us to perceive the world differently.
Rituals take many forms and don’t at all need to be religious. For instance, you can improve your fitness by creating a simple morning ritual. Get off the tram 2 stops early or park your car a few blocks away and walk to work. Take the stairs into the office instead of the lift and finish your ritual with a big glass of water.
To let go of something you have an unhealthy attachment to, you might simply write down what it is you want to let go of and burn it, then throw away the ashes in nature, saying a few words of farewell as you do. It’s a good idea to balance such a ritual with a ritual of manifestation that will focus your attention on what you want instead.
Read more about the power of ritual in my blog piece, “The Power of Ritual”.