"Changing Your View of Change"
If ever there was a prescription for a fulfilled and contented life, I have learned, it is understanding this:
the lessons of life are not over until you are.
I suspect that one of the curses of modern life is the incessant busyness of it. People seem driven, and a complaint we hear around here is that there simply isn't enough time. Too much happening. Which of course leads to the question - what is the nature of life?
The nature of life is change. Everything, always, is in a state of flux. Every cell in our body is being replaced, right now, in this moment. There is no beginning, no end, to anything, until we curl up our toes. And even then, the jury's out on "what's next."
Because many have not cultivated the gift of contentment within the movement of change, there is a pull towards trying to get things to stop, to hold still, (hi, Dar!) to be manageable.
Attached to that is that many seem to need to be rewarded for breathing.
I mean that literally and figuratively. The figurative part is this: because many find life to be nothing but busyness, running, struggling, there is a burning desire to be rewarded for simply showing up. "What's the point if people don't appreciate me?" "Why do things differently? It's too hard." (i.e. there is no reward.) "I may not have much going on, but at least I can create some excitement tonight!"
The literal part is a joke, sort of. I was talking with a friend yesterday, and she was remembering being at Phase 1 at Haven a couple of years ago. She quoted Ben as saying, "The only thing you really need to take from here is remembering to breathe properly, every day. Of course, you won't do it."
Part of the acceptance piece is learning to thrive within change. It's so hard to admit that I and everything around me is changing. I can't depend on anything staying the same. Look, for example, at relationships.
If you really open your eyes and have a look, all the relationships you are in are "fluxing" all the time. Darlene and I joke that we never say to each other, "How are you today?" Rather, we say, "Who are you today?" We're not kidding.
To accept this premise - that everything is always changing - is to buy into the only solution that matters - curiosity. I was making this point to a client the other day. He was giving me a long list of what his wife "always" does. As if there was nothing that could be done. I got into my "I don't know a thing about Darlene" speech. I mentioned that he and I had both talked to Dar before the session started. I added that I'd be a fool to bet that Darlene would be exactly the same person when we came out.
At that moment, the phone rang. I said, "It's like that phone call. Darlene could be hearing that a crazed killer has just wiped out her family. (I told you I was weird . . . ) I won't know until I ask." I was making an exaggerated example for dramatic effect. Anything, literally anything could have happened in Dar's part of the house and in Dar's head, in an hour. (Given Darlene's head, many, many things had likely happened ;-) ) In other words, time had passed, and she had changed.
Well, anyway, after the client left, I went into the kitchen. Dar was bent over the kitchen counter, holding her head, and my interpretation (no doubt coloured by my "phone" comment) was that she looked sad and depressed. I said, "Oh God. What happened?" She looked up quizzically. Replied, "What? I'm reading a recipe."
I know. Long story, little point. I'm flitting around the idea that to achieve contentment we have to learn acceptance of change. To accept change requires curiosity and flexibility. In other words, nothing intrinsically means anything. Nothing is as it was a moment ago. Indeed, all there is, is this endless, eternal moment going by - the eternal now.
Of course, we are required to play the game that the project we are working on, or the person we are talking to, is the same project, the same person as yesterday. But if you really wrap your head around it, as the Native People say, you can never enter the river at the same place.
Each week, when I approach Into the Centre, I come at it as a changed person. In fact, I'm just about to take a break, as I'm hungry. I'll walk into town, to the post office, the bank, a restaurant, and grab some lunch. Now, I'm on a roll here, writing. Where will I be when I come back?
I can guarantee I'll be different. First of all, I'll be grabbing the mail. Then, I'll meet people and see things. Lastly, I'll be thinking about Into the Centre over lunch. How could my approach, given all of those variables, not be different when I return?
Same with me and Dar or me and other people I am in relationship with. Who will they be, next time we talk, we meet? I don't know. I had an e-mail from a young, 26-year-old friend the other day. She's always been a bit shy and reticent about sex. We've had a couple of chats about her issues, but that's months ago. The e-mail expressed no little interest in something I'd said about Tantric sex. Where did that come from? Predictable? Hmm. I suspect something in her has shifted. No surprise there.
Unless we want things to stop moving, slow down, stay the same.
This week, explore your relationship to the idea, the reality of change. How stuck are you? What do you believe you can't change, and why? Why are you giving your life over to repeating behaviours and understandings? You're not actually stuck at all, you're changing all the time. Denying this reality doesn't change the change.
It's easy to rail against change and, at the same time, to pretend to be stuck. In truth, being stuck is a choice to repeat what isn't working. You're changing all right. You're making the situation worse by repeating what doesn't work, and in that way lowering the bar of what you expect to happen.
If you want your life to be different, recognize this: you can't stop change, but you can obsess enough to make yourself miserable. Instead, look at your life, see what you are doing to yourself, and simply ease into structured, intelligent, soulful, joyous change.
In this is contentment, full life, health. And breath!
"Change in the Workplace"
It's a curious phenomenon, the fear many people have of change. I suspect it has something to do with wanting to be in control. We see what's going on around us, and we scare ourselves with the pace, with the intensity of change. If only things would simply stay the same!
Friends recently gave birth to a beautiful girl, whose name is Anjuli Maya Dutta. Neat, eh? And within the definitions of her given names is a clue for dealing with change.
Her middle name is Maya, which means, roughly, "illusion." In Buddhist thought there is the phrase, "All is maya." This means that we really don't ever penetrate to the core of what's happening. We see what we choose to see. Thinking change is "bad or difficult," for me, is maya.
I found a helpful quote the other day:
"I am in charge of my life while recognizing
I am not in control."
We can neither deny nor control change. Projects change, managers and co-workers change - the economy changes. Minute by minute. Our maya, our illusion, is that, if only we were "better" things wouldn't "change" (read, be so hard.) The way past distress is the recognition of the inevitability of change, and the ability to be in charge of my response to change.
Anjuli, her father told me, in Bengali and other Indian languages, means, roughly, "an offering or sacrifice given to the gods which is blessed and then returned for our enjoyment and prosperity."
In this name is the seed of contentment. What if I understand that my gift is my vocation and that the gift I give to "the gods" is my wholehearted participation in the tasks I am given? I can't and wouldn't want to control outside situations (I'm not God.) I can and do choose to respond out of my wish to achieve excellent results in my work, and thus "be a blessing."
Far too often, work is seen as a drudgery to be gotten through as opposed to an opportunity to serve. My task is to swim gently in a sea of change, contributing what I see as my gifts, without attachment to the results. In other words, I do what I do out of anjuli, while never missing the maya.
Imagine being blessed with those names. Acting out of a sense of blessing while noticing that all is illusion. Methinks Anjuli's parents have given this child the keys to the universe.