Transitions are hard. Even good transitions bring up feelings of vulnerability, fear and anxiety. What was certain or solid in the past isn’t anymore, and it is unclear what the future will be. There’s a natural tendency to try to control or fix things
when the ground gets shaky. Vulnerable times, however, can also be an incredible opportunity to open the mind to something new. It can be the time to stop and regroup, to jettison old beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve and to open up to more aliveness and authenticity.
When facing the fear of the unknown, use four tools–mindfulness, curiosity, gratitude and compassion– to help navigate through change.
The base for all internal work begins with mindfulness. Being mindful means quieting the mind down with a willingness to be with whatever arises: thoughts in the mind, the energy of emotions and sensations in the body. This makes a space to see what is present and to become friendlier with what is uncomfortable. The mind can be a monkey, darting back and forth between fear and hope, creating mental chaos. Taking even a few conscious breaths moves a step away from the noise and back to the breathing body, creating more clarity and perspective. Once mindfulness is established, curiosity becomes a good friend when dealing with fear.
Curiosity deflates the notion of how things are supposed to be, opening up possibilities obscured by fear. Without an agenda, it’s easier to see what’s needed
and respond more authentically. What was formerly scary or unworkable becomes
an opportunity to try new behaviors and to let go or change old ways of being.
Gratitude is a good way to come back to the present. Real gratitude resides in the daily, little moment to-moment pieces of life that often are taken for granted or not noticed. Simple pleasures like a good cup of coffee or the sun shining through the window are reminders that life is good now.
Compassion for self and others is important because change is not easy. The vulnerability of being in the unknown opens the heart and softens the defenses. When blame or shame arise, remember that everyone is doing their best, including you. Cultivate the wish that everyone be happy, loved and safe. It takes courage to navigate through change. Using these four tools during times of transition will facilitate boundless possibilities for growth, authenticity and increased aliveness.
Barbara Gordon, a holistic counselor, licensed psychotherapist and workshop
leader, will present the workshop Moving Successfully Through Transitions at Greenshire Arts Consortium in Quakertown, from 9 a.m. to noon on November 2. Call 215-538-0976 or visit GreenshireArts.org.