If you are depressed, you are living in the past
If you are anxious, you are living in the future
If you are at peace, you are living in the present, Lao Tzu
Life is full of change, I would contend that there are three things in life you can be certain of – Taxation, Death and Change. It is all around us. Whether at work, at home or in your social life. Even within you yourself, we are constantly changing. Every day of our lives we are changing physically, as well as mentally.
Our thoughts and feelings constantly shift during the day, from the moment we wake up, through the working day, and onto the evening when home and social activities take over.
However, and this is the big however, we are fearful of change. We want things to be the same, constant and unchanging. All of us have something that we want to remain the same, be it:
I want to keep the same job that I am doing now; I want the relationship to be the same, intense and passionate; I want to live in the same place for the rest of my life; I want my friends to always be like that; I want my hairstyle to be the same; I want to remain the same weight, size of form; etc, etc, etc.
Go on, reflect for a moment on something, no matter how big or small, is going to be important to you and will be something you want to keep the same. And the fear that something is going to change creates tension and worry. The worry of losing that job, that relationship, that friend, that home, that …….. whatever.
Over eighteen months ago I was facing the prospect of walking away from my job, not because I was not good at what I was doing; rather, the environment I was working in was so stressful that it was affecting my health and mental wellbeing. It was affecting me both at work, as well as at home.
For some people they turn to friends for help; for some, they turn to family and loved ones; some turn to drink, drugs or other escape mechanisms. Me, I turned to Mindfulness. I knew that the fears I had were of my own creation, after all what had effectively changed? The work was the same, the colleagues were the same, the pressure was the same. What had changed was my approach and reaction.
I started practicing Mindfulness meditations every morning as a way to be able to deal with the stress and pressure. I never realised at the start, that Mindfulness was a change programme in its own right. There are numerous studies and articles on how the impact of mindfulness changes the brain – one article I suggest you read is:
I noticed after about 6 weeks, that I was feeling different. I did not know at the time if it was the practices, my change in approach at work – brought on by thinking and being more present, or something else.
I completed the 8 week MBSR – Mindfulness Stress Reduction Programme and reflected that since I had made such an effort; changed my habits, including getting up early in the morning to do both mindful movement as well as a 20 minute guided meditation; that I should carry on for a while and see where things have taken me.
I have practiced mindful breathing at work. I have done it in meetings and even on the phone. I have practiced mindful movement as I walk about the office.
I can truely say, with all honesty, that it has changed my like – both at work and privately. Calmness, being present, being non-judgemental and a more reflective approach are the results for me.
If you have been practicing mindfulness at work, or to help you deal with work or social situations, what have you seen as the results?
Normally I leave you with a quote…. but on this occasion, I leave you with a short passage written by Steve Jobs.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
― Steve Jobs
One thought on “Mindfulness and the fear of change”
One good way to develop a gentler approach to chane is to practice the 6 element meditation.
Living like a river by Bodhipaksa is a good read about this practice.
Guided meditation for this can be found at wildmind.org.