(And a little duality)
The woo-woo community is talking about a vibrational shift happening on the planet. Everything is changing, in both small and tsunamic ways. And everyone is experiencing this shift differently – each of us will experience particular, unique, waves in our lives. My current experience of change is reflected in my children. I’m so enmeshed with them still.
My Big guy is getting ready for high school (planning the whole thing himself, rendering me obsolete). We also moved him to the bigger bedroom, a rite of passage (…aanndd… his 6-ft frame was folded up like an accordion to fit in the loft in his old room). My Little guy is on to greener pastures (a toddler bed) with the eventual plan of getting out of our room and into the little bedroom. Off they go, whee! (*sniff*)
Your change prolly looks different. Winter kick start plan proving hard to stick with? (Solidarity on that one). Did you lose someone – human or furry? Changing jobs? Going back to school?
Does it feel like a lot? I, for one, feel perpetually overwhelmed.
Sometimes I just want to holler: “Enough!”
Isn’t that what they say, though, that: “change is the only constant?“
Big stuff or small, we feel it. Even small changes can feel so big (I just sobbed about the bed thing). That ever-shifting ground beneath us, oof. I am trying to make peace with the constant flux; attempting to foster inner stability in the face of outer seemingly relentless change. I like control. I settle for the illusion.
Change is no joke!
Today, laying apart from Ray (*sniff*), praying he falls asleep in his new wee bed (solar system sheets!), I feel the familiar pull. A pull back to the known, a desire for the status quo, because therein lies the comfort. Even though I logically know (and want!) the natural and good progression that is life (and sleeping arrangements), still I hold on tight.
Dr. Laura Berman says there are two types of trauma: big “T” and little “t” trauma. She lost a beloved son to an accidental fentanyl overdose (56,000 teen deaths in the US in 2020), so she knows Trauma. Dr. Berman says that both Big “T” and little “t” trauma can be a lot of work to heal from. Professionals specializing in trauma can be incredibly helpful.
Like trauma, change can be big or small, and both can be difficult. Getting divorced is a big change and getting to yoga class is a small one. Man alive, sometimes getting to that yoga class is TOUGH (LOL)!
Periods of change can lead to a feeling of the loss of control over our lives (did I mention I like control?) And change almost always causes a certain amount of stress in our bodies and minds. I get tired from the growing, the stretching and the evolving. It takes real, tangible effort. (self care, self care, self care)
Embrace the pain
Even if we don’t want change, it will come (reminds me of the Fugees song: “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide”). Since change is coming, why not welcome it? Isn’t that a Zen thing, to welcome chaos in (really, to welcome it ALL in)? Mara (who signifies doubt) is said to have stayed with the Buddha even AFTER he was enlightened. When making a life change, we may need to be ready to deal with doubt creeping in at some point. That is normal! When doubts come in, we can recognize that we might not be seeing reality, but rather constructs of the mind. In other words, the mind sees what it is used to seeing, so what we see may be off; distorted. When we see our doubts as (just) doubts (and part of the human mind/brain), they lose their power over us. When we see Mara, Mara vanishes.
Ooh but our in-the-moment self will rebel! Watching my little guy snuggle with Good Dog and Bad Dog in his mini-bed, he just looked so little (and the cutest ever). I just wanted to snuggle him in the big bed. My little guy!
The Eternal Now
But then I thought about how THAT moment was my ONLY moment. Decisions can only be made in the current, live-action moment. We can plan all we want, but at the end of the day all we have is Right Now (as Ray likes to say, when he wants something Right Now). So Right Now, we gotta stick with the plan. Growth is good, independence is good. We have had zero tears because we are taking it slow. We hold hands, bed to bed. We come on up if we need to. He is thrilled about his new bed! It feels ok! So I made the decision to stick with the planned change, Right Now.
I feel sad but also really, really happy (see duality, below). It feels bittersweet, both good and bad. What a romantic feeling bittersweet is! Part of the human experience – a longing – Susan Caine wrote the book on it (Bittersweet). More sweet than bitter, for sure.
Going forward, gently and steadily, aiming for the next right thing, helps us grow. Baby steps. Letting go of the old makes room for new and beautiful experiences.
So what’s next? Let’s talk about a model for change written by a leading, not even woo-woo, expert.
Four phases of change
Dr. Martha Beck, Oprah’s darling, life coach and author of books about finding yourself (Finding your own North Star) identifies four phases of change. It’s helpful to have a rubric for change because when we are in the muck of it, this gives us a road map. We might start to see a distant destination; the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It’s interesting to think about how there are different types of change – not just big and small changes but also changes that we choose, perhaps moving across the country, and then changes that we do not choose, like losing a person close to us. These phases can be applied to either type of change.
Phase 1: Dissolving
This stage kinda involves falling apart and not knowing who the hell we are anymore. This is the freakiest stage, where Beck says we die a little bit. During this stage we are losing it. Maybe we plunge into the deep end, full tilt ahead, changing EVERTHING, or we might go the opposite direction and clamp down, holding tight to the old and REFUSING to change. Maybe we waffle between the two. We are talking a wee bit hysterical (day TWO of new toddler bed I told my husband “I give up” whilst sobbing). This is a time to grieve. We grieve for what was and is no longer, what we wanted and did or did not have, what we can’t get back -ouch.
What do we do for ourselves when we are falling apart? White-knuckled? Well for starters a few tears can clear the air (and maybe the room, lucky you). Hold on tight and do some grounding activities. Take things one day (or one moment) at a time. Take a walk, get the eyeballs on some nature, drink tea or golden milk, get some breathwork in. Talk to a friend or a therapist. Get thyself in a blankie and read Harry Potter or watch Ted Lasso. We probably won’t want to do these things, which means WE NEED TO. Go ahead and be sad, but try to take care of yourself. Picture yourself as you were at age three, and take really good care of her.
Phase 2: Imagining
This part is pretty fun. It’s where you calm down and start to see the direction you want your life to take; the direction it IS taking. You begin to see a new order from the chaos. This is when some old stuff will suddenly seem ill-fitting. Maybe we clean out a bunch of crap at home, have the sudden urge to move furniture around at 2 AM, chop off our hair or get a sweet new bomber jacket. We are trying out our new self, and we do these external things to mirror what is happening internally.
As a vata-pitta, when I am in this phase, I am a dynamo. Tirelessly working to prep for the change; all juiced up, cleaning and clearing everything out, prepping prepping prepping. But during this exciting time we have to remember to stick to our daily routine. Maybe do a little journaling to chart the new territory, mark progress, or just word-vomit all over an unsuspecting page. If you enjoy a vision board, do it!
Phase 3: Re-forming
This phase is the nitty-gritty change phase, aka implementation. We start doing the thing; making it real on the physical plane. And this is where we mess up. Lots of fails.
My first fail was two weeks in and I pulled Little guy up into the big bed with me one afternoon when nap wasn’t happening fast enough. But we had a wonderful cuddle and I ended up gloriously napping with him the whole time (so fail was also a win, see, duality). Second fail: following day had him in the big bed again, just because: “I did it yesterday!” Third day: kept to the little bed! Victorious! It helped that kitty was in there with him. Ship back on course. No tears, just a bit more time spent.
Unexpected snafus crop up, and that is perfectly normal. Since this is a change, it is new. And since we haven’t been here before we sure can’t expect to know the exact right thing to do all the time! We gotta take a breath and get back up. We try one thing and then tweak as needed. This a the time to be flexible, feel the process and just roll. Don’t give up!
Phase 4: Flying
This is your phoenix-rising-from-ashes moment! Cocoon-butterfly-fly! It’s coming together! Assess the change, fine-tune it and pat yourself on the back. It’s so easy when we change to forget where we were before, so look back and give yourself kudos for venturing out and growing. I don’t think twice now when Ray falls asleep in his new bed, but it is quite a growth experience for him (and for me)! We did it!
Ayurveda and Change
When ayurveda talks about the doshas, the discussion is that of the body as: “constantly undergoing balance and imbalance.” We teeter around between harmony and disharmony all the time. This means we are all off the rails at some point or another. So don’t believe that social media queen who is always zen and perfect. Not real. You’re fine.
Aim for Dosha balance during times of change
During a time of change we can expect this balance/imbalance dance to be a bit more rowdy. When navigating a change, take into account your dosha and your predispositions. Are you inclined to shut down during times of change and stick your butt to the couch (kapha alert), or are you rushing around depleting every last ounce of energy (vatta), OR do you research the living daylights out of everything (pitta)? Remember that whatever you tend to want to do while out of balance is probably the exact OPPOSITE thing you should be doing (this ties into duality too, below – it’s all connected woo-woo-woo).
There is duality in change
Writing about change brings to my mind the duality concept (like, over and over), duality here meaning: about anything that is true, the opposite is also true. Dualism is the moral or spiritual belief that two fundamental concepts exist, which often oppose each other. It means that there are TWO PARTS to a thing – like two sides of a coin, sometimes called good and evil but we don’t have to go that far. It’s the yin and yang thing (which are not good and evil but rather the masculine and the feminine – opposites). Dualism has also been called the difference between mind and body, with lots of arguments that this type of dualism is a myth (think mind/body movement). Supposedly dualism has something to do with particle theory. And it’s a geometry thing. Whatever it means, I think we kind of intuit the larger message behind the concept (right? with me?)
OK, so duality…my point is: when we look at (when we see) something as 100% true (or that the other person is 100% wrong), it might help us to try to look at the exact opposite (the perspective of the other person), and find the truth THERE as well. It’s a way or re-perceiving the world. Getting rid of old conditioning and seeing it from a new angle. Fresh!
Here is an easy example: healthy habits are NO FUN! But actually: healthy habits are SO FUN! Both things are true, although maybe not at the same time.
Another example: Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, and Tiny Beautiful Things (highly recommend both), talks about the devastating loss of her mother when Cheryl was 21. Her mom’s name was Bobbi and they were very close. She was able to (eventually) look for the gifts in that loss. So while she would have her mom back if she could, she can now see the growth that she achieved as a result of her mother’s death, and the way the loss shaped her, and even benefited her.
Duality also seems (and this may be waaay tangential) a bit at play when I have gotten out of the yoga habit and then restart it. Here’s the situation: at first: my Lord does that yoga set seem LONG! But give it a few days, and pretty soon here it’s all breezing on through, no time at all. The yoga set is BOTH super, duper long and very, very short.
Duality allows for change?
Is that even duality, LOL?
I point out (and probably mangle) this concept because when I thought about change, I kept thinking about duality. It helps, when working through change, to know that there will be more than one way to frame an experience. There is truth in our mixed feelings about changing. We want SO MUCH for our circumstances to go one way, and when they go the other way – well, when they go the other way, we get sad. Or pissed. Totally understandable.
But what if we could look at the thing that just happened and we could look at what happened in relation to what we WANTED to happen, and then maybe we could make a list of ways in which the other way actually benefited us. Those reasons are there.
Change your mind, change your life.
Change is a lot. You’re doing great.
Right now, for me, changes are rolling out gradually, but steadily. I am opening the door to them, to the growing independence of my boys, and reaching for the new. Incrementally. Before I know it my boys will be grown. And as they change, I marvel. At who they are becoming and at how they are so bravely growing.
It inspires me to do some work of my own (when I get a sec).
Leave me a comment!
Let me know what duality ACTUALLY is, PLEASE!