Change Is Certain
THEME: Have you ever known children who are quite resistant to getting a bath? They distract, cling to what they're currently doing, fight, pout, cry. Then, once they're in the bath, having a grand ole time, they don't want to get out? A struggle to resist change. It can be highly frustrating to the parents who go through this time and time again. It's as if the children are so content in the "now" that they simply deny the reality of change, even if they will ultimately like it just as much.
It's hard when something fun or beautiful comes to an end, anti-climatic. Knowing the experience won't last can bring stronger focus and appreciation. Advice often given to brides and grooms is to relish each moment because the big day seems to whisk by quickly. Consider a sunset; we stare and marvel at each change in the sky. The watching and wondering is so satisfying. Imagine if we could treat all experiences that way? Good, neutral, or otherwise. The practice of "this" is to acknowledge that change is certain.
CHECK-IN: Share one change (big or small) you've experienced in the last month (or so). How did you feel about the change? Did that feeling change over time? Was anything revealed to you?
MINDFUL PRACTICE: Spending time in the past runs counter to accepting change. When we ruminate about events that have occurred, they deepen in our psyche and perpetuate feelings that don't allow us to appreciate what "this" is now, or to move forward. It's self-sabotage. Mindfulness practices help us break that habit. When we're agitated, it can be hard to settle into a mindful mode. Here is one tactile option to turn your mind away from worries while applying "change" to your practice.
First Action: Using one hand, touch thumb to index finger. Next, thumb to middle finger. Then, thumb to ring finger. Then, thumb to pinky.
Now, reverse the order. Thumb to pinky, thumb to ring, thumb to middle, thumb to index.
If this is hard, practice a couple of times until you can smoothly do this with your eyes closed.
Small CHANGE - use the other hand. Notice if one hand is more adept than the other. Keep your focus on the sensation of the touch or the vision of your fingers meeting. If you mind wanders, refocus on the touch.
Second Action: Medium CHANGE - Repeat with both hands simultaneously. Notice what happens when you try to focus on the touch - can you feel both sets of fingers touching or do you CHANGE from left hand to right hand.
Third Action: Big CHANGE - Start one hand with thumb to index. Start the other with thumb to pinky. Do both simultaneously. This takes more practice and concentration.
Mixing it up: There are many ways to utilize this practice.
You can use one hand and at each touch synch your breath: thumb-index (breathe in), thumb-middle (breathe out), thumb-ring (breathe in), thumb pinky (breathe out).
You can add words to reinforce that "this" is all there is: thumb-index (here now), thumb-middle (me now), thumb-ring (life now), thumb-pinky (love now).
Try to touch the finger tips as lightly as possible.
Slow down and really press the two fingers together; feel any heat or energy between them.
Try to do both hands and have the fingers meet at the exact same time.
CONSIDER: How can we change our relationship, especially to past negative events? Something happened in the past that makes you feel sad, scared, accosted, betrayed, shamed every time the thought arises. We give it power by reliving it over and over, or even worse, by sharing it with others. Sometimes it feels good to share; we know stories of vulnerability are magical - they pull others out of denial and can be a platform for truth. There is a time and place to use certain past events to serve a greater good.
Those stories often run amok, distracting us from the good that is before us, the potential that is ahead. Thoughts make us feel small and do nothing to bring justice to what transpired.
There is that saying, "resentment is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping the other person will die." This makes perfect sense, but somehow we often can't let that other person off the hook. They are not on the hook. We are. It's not about being in denial. It's about laying the past to rest so you can be here, now, ready for greater things. There is also an African proverb that says, “Smooth seas do not make a skillful sailor.” Try to see the event as a blessing, for it enabled you to learn and grow.
JOURNAL: Think of an experience from your past that you are so done with, that you would like to pivot away from or not be defined by.
On paper, create a representation of that event through drawings or symbols. Write words around it that describe how that event made you feel.
We're not sharing stories. It is over. If you're ready, here is your chance to make a commitment to saying buh-bye.
There are many ways to ritualistically experience something and leave it for good. Think Burning Man which is a different experience year to year and leaves no trace. You can burn it, rip it up, toss it off a bridge, eat it. Tonight, we're going to rip ours up and mix them all together, so the pieces can never be put back together.
As you tear the page, say to your heart "I am not this" or "this is not me" or "goodbye and don't let the door hit ya where the Lord split ya!" Something to command your commitment.
SHARE: You know there will be plenty of opportunities for that story to come up. You decided today that you're not going to play that twisted game anymore. It's important to come up with a replacement. The best type of replacement is something that really satisfies you...a song, a vision, a memory, a phrase, a person, a flower. Choose something that you can easily tap into and replace the old thought or story when it pops into your head. You can have a few that you want to try out. Share what you think you want to use as your replacement.
CLOSING: For the next month and beyond, anytime something related to that event is in your head, notice and replace.