Have you ever noticed how many transitions we go through all day?
The transition from waking up to getting out of bed, from PJs (or au natural) to clothes, from red light to green light, from inhale to exhale. Every waking moment is a transition.
Why, then, are we, as humans, so uncomfortable with change?
We want everything to stay the same, but at the same time, crave variety. We grasp so tightly to how we think things should be (did she not hear that I wanted extra foam on my latte?) and, simultaneously, admire and want innovation.
We are walking transitions. We chase the next thing, trying to fill this underlying void of “not enough.” We so desperately grasp at everything to stay the same, and when change comes, we are scared.
Fear exists with change. When we can accept that fear is there, though, we can also ask at the same time “What do I have to do to get to where I need to be? How do I create the life I want?”
If change is the only thing we can count on as guaranteed, the question presents itself: How can we use it to our advantage to grow, transform, and evolve?
One major lesson I’ve learned through the experience of going from the severe imbalance of Stage IV cancer at age twenty-nine, to feeling an ongoing (yet fluid) state of balance, not only in body, but also mind and spirit, is that taking care of ourselves in the midst of change is as crucial to our health as breathing.
Cancer, or any other life-threatening illness, leaves its survivors different. The entire experience is life-altering change and an extraordinary opportunity to find healing.
While there is not a cure for every disease out there, everyone can find healing. Whether survivor or not, we can nurture ourselves through any change at the soul level by asking the following five questions.
1. What am I feeding the mind?
By becoming aware of what we tell our body, and choosing nourishing thoughts, food, and granting it stillness, we can sustain any change that may arise. And then, truly, whatever arises in life becomes the right material for our growth and the growth of those around us, as Marcus Aurelius said.
2. How can I find balance in every part of my life?
When I would have a jam-packed go-go-go day as a headhunter in the corporate world, my transition strategy to “calm down and balance out” was to do a fast-paced sweaty vinyasa class.
Yet, I’d get out of yoga, and someone would cut me off and I’d blow up, yell something, and (maybe) flip the bird! Where is the zen in that?!
I did not realize at that point in my life that the antidote to the stress of my day job would’ve been a balanced yoga flow or, even a slower, gentle yin class. Balancing out our lives in each area is necessary.
3. Am I following my desires?
This is an area that our souls long for, but most of us experience resistance. The ego, driven to survive, is always telling us that what we truly want is not something we should go after for whatever reason, usually the money. But the money is not the core reason. When we really want something, we find ways to get it.
Danielle LaPorte says that we’re not chasing a goal, we’re chasing a feeling we think the goal will give us. In knowing this, we can get in touch with our core desired feelings. I thought for so long that the anxiety is what drove me to get what I want. But our core desired feelings are our true navigator and anxiety is just a “witless liar,” as Martha Beck says.
4. Are the people by whom I am surrounded bringing me light?
Being around people who uplift and support us makes us uplifting and supporting.
When I was going through my cancer healing program, I had only about three hours where I had energy to engage with people. The rest of the time, I would be extremely fatigued and exhausted.
I found that when I was around others who were negative or complained, the three hour block of energy turned into one. It literally sucked the vitality and life out of me, making a life-altering situation that much more difficult. Choosing to surround ourselves with life-giving, uplifting people feeds and heals the soul.
5. Do I spend time every day in stillness?
I would skip stillness, thinking, I’ll just pray as I send emails. (Yes, I was this crazy). Then I would get so burnt out, sick of working, and indulge in junk food and alcohol to make myself feel better.
These days, when I feel the tension coming, I stop, breathe deeply, and stay still (for at least five minutes). Each and every time, I feel clearer, and am much more productive than when I’d push through. Stillness is the consistent anchor to sustain any kind of change life can throw at you.
This is the paradox of transition—that although we are always changing (in circumstance around us, in emotion, even our cells are constantly regenerating), who we really are never changes. Who we are houses the divine and this powerful universal energy, which is a place we can call upon at any time. It is home.