Today’s main topic was change. Change is inevitable, but also stressful. Some of the changes we make voluntarily rank amongst life’s most stressful events: moving house, getting married, even going on holiday, etc, and yet we still do these things. Other changes are not voluntary: illness, death of those close to us, divorce, etc.
Events such as these might be thought of as gateways, or thresholds: points in life where we have the chance to see things differently, or opportunities to change our beliefs. These doorways are usually accompanied by fear, and may reoccur throughout life.
The first doorway is the fear of separation, or aloneness. This starts when we are babies and must separate our ‘self’ from that of our mother, and then throughout life as we develop our individuality and difference from the groups we are part of. The inability to communicate perfectly the thoughts that are unique to us can fuel this sense of isolation.
The second doorway is the fear of loss of meaning and/or purpose in life. We build a sense of who we are through our habits and routines – generally, the way we spend our lives. When these are disrupted, the sense of self can also be impacted. This can be through events as natural as moving on from school, or more disruptive such as being made redundant.
The third doorway is the fear of death. Western culture is not good at acknowledging this certainty: we will all die. Eventually we are faced with our own mortality, and this can affect people in different ways.
The fourth doorway is a fear of freedom. When things change, when we have an abundance of choice, that can be overwhelming and many people will run away from change and try to stay the same – even if that is not the best course of action. However, consciously choosing change can be empowering – the opportunity to recreate your self/life.
The change-related mindfulness exercise we tried involved a deep examination of your own hand. Looking at it, seeing what you notice. Thinking about how much it has changed over the years. Then letting go of the thoughts, and looking with curiosity – perhaps as a painter would view a subject, focusing on colour or shading. We’re very critical of our own bodies, but perhaps we can think less about how awful our nails look, and more about how amazing our hands, etc are – all the things they let us do!