Coping with change. And how to let go.
We’ve all been through change at some point in our lives. Change is inevitable. It’s a fact of life. Most commonly we associate change externally, like moving to a new area, experiencing job loss or a change in your career. Becoming a parent for the first time. The beginning or end of a relationship. But change also happens internally, your thoughts, your attitude and emotions, how you feel physically.
Depending on your mindset, change can be the most beautiful aspect of life. The fact that you can change your direction in life. That you can change your future by simply changing your attitude. However, change can be difficult to navigate. It can feel like your whole world has come crashing down around you, even when you acknowledge that it is happening! But there are ways you can learn to cope with change. In fact, you can learn how to embrace it.
Learning to accept that change will happen
It’s natural to want the good things in your life to continue. But you cannot control everything that happens in your life. Learning to accept change is about learning to let go. To release your grip on what is familiar to you.
You only have to look at Nature, she is our biggest teacher of the impermanence of life.
Even when positive change happens it can also feel painful to accept that change is happening in your life. it creates an uncomfortable knot in your stomach, you don’t want to believe this is happening.
This automatic reaction comes from the limbic part of the brain. To create change it means new habits, new neural pathways have to be formed. The neo-cortex of your brain, which is the part of your brain that makes conscious decisions, deals with problem solving and emotions plays an important role in how you respond and adapt to change.
It is scientifically proven you can develop this part of the brain through meditation. And in doing so develop your acceptance and build resilience to change.
Attachment vs non-attachment
Your sense of “I’ ness, your ego, or as it’s known in the yogic scripts as “Ahamkara.” attaches itself to all that you identify with, this could be a partner, child, your possessions. When you are attached, there is a tendency to chase, to control to hold onto what you know and are familiar with.
Why do you do this? It makes you feel safe, secure, comfortable and in control. But it is this attachment, this holding on, that causes suffering when circumstances change.
The findings of a research study demonstrated that people who have a high level of attachment to life, to people and possessions also place high expectations on themselves and others.
I know from painful experience, if I’ve held high expectations on how I think someone should behave in a situation, and this expectation is not met. I am the one who is suffering. I’m the one who feels the pain.
The ancient Yogis and Buddhists teach us the practice of non-attachment. Only when we remove our attachments do we remove suffering.
Non-attachment doesn’t mean that you don’t care or don’t have feelings. When you are non-attached, you go about your daily life without any fixation, obsession, worry, or attachment to the final outcome. There is a band of resilience that enables you to cope better with all that life throws your way.
Whilst ‘non-attachment’ is strong with people who meditate, in the same research I mentioned earlier, the practice of non-attachment was evident in those who had experienced transformative suffering and wanted to live life without attachment to what they cannot change.
Don’t let fear rule you.
Fear. Coping with change and your ability to do so has its root in the fear of the unknown. Allow it too manifest and fear will stop you moving forward in life. Anticipatory anxiety is worrying about what could happen because you cannot predict or control the future. Stepping out of your safe, comfortable space into the unknown can feel very scary. Perhaps you don’t move forward with your life goals due to fear of failure.
But it is embracing change that enables you to grow as a person. To experience new things, places, to live a fulfilling life. Importantly, to live the life that you want. If you never try, how will you ever know? “There is a saying, it is better to try and fail than to never try at all.”
How to feel more comfortable with change?
Meditation and mindfulness techniques are very helpful tools that teach you skills to sit with the uncertainties in life.
Learn to live in the present
This is the only place to be. We are so caught up reliving the past or worrying about the future that we don’t know how to be present. Only when you live in the present do you fully let go of your attachments and identify what you are resisting in life.
When you are present, you are focusing on one thing at any one time. There are many mindfulness techniques that train you to live in the present. In awareness-based meditation you focus on one point of concentration. This can be body sensations, your breath, or your thoughts. It is this point of concentration that is an anchor to keep you in the present moment.
Through regular practice you develop your inner awareness and the ability to witness.
Awareness of sensations in the body
How the body feels changes from moment to moment. Body scanning is where you bring your focus to the different sensations within the body. Moving from sensation to sensation. In doing so, you start to notice that as well as the sensations changing constantly so do your thoughts and emotions. You’re training your mind to deal and accept these changes. Without attachment. There is no certainty in the sensations, they are continuously changing.
Awareness of breath
In the same was as awareness of body sensations, there is also awareness of breath. Your breath is your biggest teacher in validating your current state of being. In fact, it is also your breath that will take you from the stress response to the relaxation response.
Typically, the practice of mentally watching your breath flow in and out of your nostrils will keep you in the present moment. When you begin to consciously observe your breath, the breath becomes a function of the cerebral cortex (the evolved area of the brain) rather than the primitive brain. You are actively rewiring your brain to be present.
Develop your awareness of thoughts.
When change is happening, it’s common to get caught up in your mental chatter. In these situations, it’s difficult to see life or the situation from a place of clarity because your mind is so busy creating its own movie.
Developing awareness through mindfulness and meditation you develop the ability to not only notice your thoughts but to do so without becoming attached to them. In doing so you are able to view your thoughts without bias. Without judgement.
You begin to see where this reluctance to change, or your need to hold on and resist change is coming from. Perhaps it stems from something that has happened in the past that has left a deep-rooted impression in your mind. Continuing with your meditation practice will enable you to observe this in greater detail and eventually you will be able to let go of this ‘samskara,’ this mental impression that is holding you back.
I’d like to leave you with a quote from Dr Wayne Dyer.
“ If you change the way you look at things. The things you look at change.”
FREE DOWNLOAD AUDIO
Start your journey with Meditation with this free 10 minute meditation practice.
IF YOU ENJOYED READING THIS ARTICLE, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE TO READ:
5 practices to change your mindset
Does meditation help with feeling overwhelmed?