At times of great change, uncertainty and crisis it easy to slide into a preoccupation with what has been lost, and what challenges may lie ahead. The mind swiftly moves into fear and seeks out potential danger; a natural and at times helpful design function of the human brain, which has helped us survive many thousands of years as a species.
Change and uncertainty are the basic principles of the universe we live in, necessitating destruction and death, for the creation and evolution of life into new forms. Without being forced towards our growth edge, many of us would remain in our comfortable routines and habits, missing out on the experience of discovering our strength, expansion and creative potential. These times in our lives, are the fertile ground for our greatest shedding, greatest growth and blossoming.
Despite all these wonderful possibilities incubating in change, change is still unsettling for many and it can be helpful to have a few guideposts for the journey ahead. Here are a few breadcrumbs to help you find your way;
Knowing the lay of the land
Unless there is an immediate risk to your health or life, in the presence of great upheaval and change it can be wise to slow down. Instinctively our urge is often to retreat or run from our fears; instead be still in your new life long enough to have the mud of your turbulent emotions settle, and take stock.
Liken this to waking up and finding you have been dropped in a desert. Running in desperation towards the horizon is hazardous; whereas grounding yourself, observing the landscape, and sensitising yourself to your new surrounds at least briefly supports a wise response in relationship to what is, rather than a rash reaction to your new found location.
“Before taking any important decision in life, it is always good to do something slowly” Paulo Coelho.
Balance your perspective
Being second nature for most people to focus on what isn’t working, it is vital that we make the choice to widen our view. News and current affair outlets are also guilty of the same charge, and feed us only a small percentage of what is really happening in the world. For every disaster and crisis there are wonderful people dedicating their time and lives to positive change. Similarly in our own lives, even though we may be experiencing hardship, there is much going well. Seek out the people, communities, organisations and even nations that are often quietly, making positive changes. Then connect, and get involved. Rather than getting dragged down into the swamp of despair, shift your focus and search for the over-hanging branch and pull yourself out onto dry solid land. On a global and personal scale, find the hard ground. Find the people who are shining a light, find what is working well in your life, and make this your new home.
Your values are your personal light house
Use your values as your travel companions to navigate the dark and unknown terrain of life’s challenges. When the survival of the ego, or even the globe are at stake, reaction, the illusion of separation and fear can take the lead. Return to yourself, and reconnect with the qualities that you wish to embody in your life. At times of change and turbulence, a connection to our values ensures we aren’t as easily swayed by the values and actions of others. Difficult decisions are made less so, by asking “which choice best serves my values?”. You may find it helpful to write your values and goals down, and keep them where you can see them, as a gentle daily reminder.
Fear and anger can serve to remind us of what we hold dear, but are also uncomfortable to experience in their entirety. Culturally, many of us have been conditioned out of connecting with the full spectrum of our emotion. Feel your emotions deeply, and let them fuel your heartfelt action. Find your heart space, connect to your values, and ground yourself and your actions in them. Your emotions are the fertile ground for heart navigated action, as scholar and environmental activist Joanna Macy explains, “Don’t apologise for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal”.
Trust in the self-organising and creative power of life.
Creativity gives birth to the new. It exists unknown and unexperienced, until it emerges from a process of letting go and trust; much like a baby bird throwing itself out of the nest to fly for the first time. This cycling from comfort to discomfort, to only discover a fresh and original new comfort has been the movement of the universe from its inception, as Thomas Berry so beautifully reflects;
“Two billion years ago, when the atmosphere became so filled with oxygen, all of life was deteriorating. The only way for the life of that time to survive was to burrow deep into the mud at the bottom of the oceans. The future of Earth seemed bleak. And yet, in the midst of that crisis a new kind of cell emerged, one that was not destroyed by oxygen but was in fact energised by it. Because of this miracle of creativity, life exploded with an exuberance never seen before.”
With this knowing, when reflecting on a crisis or a death of the old, whether personal or communal, we can sense the conception of a new delicate seedling, the evolution of our hearts, and the continuing expansion of our home, the universe.