by Jillian Pransky
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” — John C. Maxwell
With spring finally showing signs of its arrival, I am beginning to feel the change in the air as well as see it popping up through the hard earth. Nature consistently demonstrates the Law of Change. Change happens everywhere and with everyone, and it happens constantly. Everything is in the process of becoming something else.
However, while inevitable, change is not always welcome.
Many of us suppress or ignore our own longing for change because it can be petrifying. We frequently stunt our own process and progress with doubts and questions like:
Is it really worth it?
Can I really do it?
What if I don’t make the right decision?
Why bother? I can deal with things the way they are.
But most of us have also experienced that even when change is painful and challenging, resisting necessary growth for too long will eventually break you down, make you sick or, if lucky, just force you forward ungracefully. It is simply healthier, on so many levels, to go with the flow of change rather than inhibit it.
This year, my 11-year-old son William has been my greatest teacher in the lesson of embracing change.
In September, William began 6th grade at the small progressive school he has called ‘home away from home’ since he was 4 years old. With allegiance, he often proudly proclaimed that he would graduate from there in the 8th grade as a “lifer.” However, within a couple of weeks after starting 6th grade, William began to wonder if this school was still the right place for him. (As his parents, we had been questioning this for a couple of years, however his commitment to school out-weighed our own concerns.) Now, it was clear to all of us that the very things that made this school perfect for him as a youngster, no longer served his growth today.
While William was feeling an urge for change, he was simultaneously uncomfortable and confused by this longing for something different. Yet, he agreed to tour a few other schools in order to weigh his options. (This was something that even a few months before he would have adamantly rejected.) William did get very excited by one of the new schools, but still felt hesitant. Choosing between staying at his current school versus moving to another felt equally challenging.
Most often, this is what change is really like. It’s not as simple as choosing between good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes we have to choose between two different kinds of discomfort in order to move forward with change.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase. ” — Martin Luther King Jr.
William made the leap. He trusted into the vision of what he could grow in to over staying with the familiar. As a tween, it is nothing short of brave to leave something you know and love for new uncharted territory. Actually, at any age it can be petrifying to initiate change with out knowing how you will be received, accepted or successful. As Georgia O’Keefe shares, “I’ve been afraid every single day of my life, but I’ve gone ahead and done it anyway.”
I am grateful to report that 5 months later, William has grown in ways he (or we) could not have imagined. Besides thriving in this new school academically, artistically, and socially, he has also learned that he can trust his inner voice. He learned he can leave something familiar for the unknown, make a difficult decision without the promise of a particular outcome. William learned it’s okay to feel afraid and still move forward anyway.
And while this is a happy ending so far, the truth is, no matter how much time we spend thinking about making the ‘right’ decision, we still don’t really know how it’s going to go. Sometimes we won’t see the whole staircase, but still need to take that first step. We will need to step up, or jump in to keep moving forward with change itself.
“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” — Margaret Shepard
Need some help flowing through change?
Apply the practice of mindfulness to relieve mental stress around decision making. Check out this helpful article by Phillip Moffitt.
Try my 7-minute mindfulness meditation to help you relax, open and flow with change. This simple practice, done regularly, helps to set the stage for you to be more calm, clear and open – present – with the reality of each moment. As we learn to pause more often in this way, we then have an opportunity to respond more artfully, compassionately, and wisely to our choices, rather than just react, numb out, and be impulsive and habitual.
Come learn to pause and flow with change: Calm Body and Clear Mind, Open Heart – Two Summer Retreats at Kripalu – Jul 10-12 And July 12-17, 2015 Kripalu Yoga | Stockbridge, MA.
Jillian Pransky is an international presenter, National Director of Restorative Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training for Yoga Works and co-founder of the Bright Spirit Yoga Teacher Training. She leads programs at Kripalu, Omega and Mohonk. Jillian’s Calm Body, Clear Mind DVD and Relaxmore CD have garnered excellent reviews from many including Dr. Memhet Oz. She has been featured in many magazines including Yoga Journal, Self Magazine, Family Circle and appeared on CNN. See all of Jillian’s workshops here.