The one guarantee of the future is change. There are times when change is exciting and, at other times, miserable.
Life experience is full of contrast, and it can be overwhelming when an unanticipated circumstance completely shatters our plans.
This contrast, this duality, is necessary for human experience. Death implies life, day implies night, and suffering implies happiness.
Everything in nature has its polarity making it possible for individual choice and preference. This is the beauty of duality; it gives us a diversity of choices, preferences, and experiences.
The recent events of the pandemic have forced the world into unforeseen change. Uncertainty and fear of the future are prominent across the globe.
The circumstances in which we find ourselves are inevitable, but the way we react to them is a personal choice.
5 Ways to Deal With Life’s Major Changes
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”― Alphonse Karr
Yes, I understand it’s a cliché, but sometimes the simple answers are the most valuable yet easily dismissed. How much time do we spend desiring what we don’t currently have?
In comparison, how much time do we spend in appreciation for what we have right now?
It is far too easy to get caught up in the pursuit of gaining something more or suffering over something lost. I find it helpful to make a habit of taking time to appreciate what I have right now, knowing that it won’t last forever.
There is always something to be grateful for, even when it doesn’t seem like anything is going our way. Sometimes the most basic things are what we can be most grateful for, such as the air we breathe.
Without oxygen, none of us would exist, and if all of a sudden, it vanished, we would realize what we were taking for granted. Often, a loss can be a great lesson, and change can be a great teacher. I try my best to look, see, and appreciate what I have while I have it.
“Your goal is not to battle with the mind, but to witness the mind.” –Swami Muktananda
Finding equanimity, or calmness, in a difficult circumstance can be challenging. What works for me in getting through these difficult situations is experiencing without attachment or aversion.
This is a concept I’ve learned through meditation, to fully experience the sensations felt while allowing them to flow and pass freely like water through a river. Every feeling and situation, whether good or bad, is temporary.
Equanimity implies taking the perspective of the observer of the mind, rather than identifying with the mind itself. Every feeling and circumstance pass through the mind, like weather, always changing.
Nothing lasts forever; everything continuously changes regardless of our preferences toward the change.
Equanimity does not mean you become a passive observer, but quite the opposite is true. You are fully experiencing the present moment, rather than getting caught up in the labels and judgments of the mind.
The biggest difference is the mind is not clinging to the past, judging the present, or worrying about the future. It is pure experience.
Being in the Moment
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — Buddha
The only experience you can ever have is within the moment. No matter where you go, you are always here. No matter what time it is, it is always now.
We can never experience anything outside of this constant state of here and now. Judging the past or worrying about the future causes nothing but distractions from the moment.
The moment is the only place we can ever find true satisfaction. If we look for happiness in the past or future, we will never find it because the past and future are just illusory concepts of the mind.
It would be like chasing a rainbow, hoping to find happiness at the end. A rainbow is just a temporary result of weather; it comes and goes.
Being present in the moment seems as if it should be simple, but from the perspective of a Western mind, it can seem close to impossible.
The fact is, we are already in the moment.
All we have to do is pay attention to the experience, without becoming attached or resistant to the circumstance, and accept it as temporary. When distracted, we just acknowledge that we got distracted and come back to the experience.
“Meditation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity.” –Ram Dass
Meditation is a great way to bring these first three concepts into a form of practice. I have been meditating for the past seven years, and the difference in my state of mind between when I do and don’t meditate is immensely noticeable.
When experiencing these pure states of consciousness through meditation, we have to be aware that they become past experiences that we can become attached to easily.
Paradoxically, the act of being attached to these experiences is something that keeps us from them. The best way to go about meditating is to have no expectations, as the experiences are subject to change.
Meditation helps many people in day to day life. It is often compared to tuning your brain like an instrument to use it harmoniously.
Meditation is not a luxury that is only available to certain groups of people; it can be easily accessed by anyone. There is no need to have any religious or spiritual beliefs to practice meditation.
For a beginner, the key to developing a practice is simplicity and consistency.
Guided meditations on Youtube or the Headspace app are always great places to begin. Transcendental Meditation and Heartfulness Meditation are also simple techniques great for anyone.
Be the Change
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
If you don’t like what you see in other people, be what you want to see in other people. If you don’t like the circumstance you are in, do what you can in the moment to create the circumstance you would like to see.
If there is nothing you can do to change a situation, focus on what you can control. If you can make a positive impact and improve upon the situation, then make a move.
Make time for your passions and the people you love. Pursue what makes you happy without attachment to expectations of an end goal. Enjoy the process and see where it leads.
Help people in whatever way you can, because you will also be helping yourself. Change is inevitable, but our actions have a significant influence on the outcome.