Life is all about change.
It is what makes the World go around.
I am one of the biggest advocates of change. I have followed it precariously through life, jumping on the back of it at every opportunity in the hope of the next adventure, experience, life lesson and the whirlwind of a totally life changing opportunity. It is what brought me to where I am right now. I haven’t always been this way.
What brought me to accept change was something that spun me totally out of the realms of my comfort zone, and tested my limits to a whole new extreme. I was forced to embrace change, and trust me when I say that I hated it, resented it, cried about it and fought it endlessly, day in, and day out. Until one day I woke up and listened to the advice of my wonderful friends who told me just go and do what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place. They were right, of course.
Change is the essence of life
Change is not always comfortable and it normally likes to sneak up on you while you are casually minding your own business and pull the carpet out from underneath you. Change is after all the essence of life. Change can enter our lives at any moment, so we must learn to never take anything for granted.
Life is all about life lessons. Change is one of these lessons. And in the same way letting go is a lesson we learn along this beautiful journey we call life, so is embracing change. Sometimes in life we have to master the art of letting go in order to be able to move forward and live a truly happy and blessed life.
Change is scary
Going into the big bright wonderful world in a different direction to the one you mapped out for yourself. Change asks us to be brave. It asks us to challenge ourselves. It asks us to whole-heartedly embrace the unknown. It asks us to let go of the steering wheel of life, take our foot off the brakes, and to trust the universe that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Right now, right here. Living. In. This. Very. Moment.
Change can send us a little bit crazy hey? I find myself sitting on the edge of change right now, as once again I await the oncoming change freight train. I am trying to take the leap of faith and hoping to ‘yoga’ and Ganesha (the Remover of Obstacles) that I find my wings on my way down. Change sees me frantically holding onto everything secure around me with both hands and dreaming for those moments of stability that used to, ironically, cause me sleepless nights. It has me grabbing my yoga mat as though my life depended on it, in the knowledge that this journey will, in all likelihood, take a long time to get me to a better and healthier place for my heart, my body and my soul. On the other hand, a small part of the old me shines through as I start to dream of moving on, finding my routine in uncertainty, in traveling and exploring and taking control of shaping my destiny once again. Some might call that running away. In fact some do, and keep gently advising me to challenge myself and stay put…and for them, and for my own personal growth, I will try.
Fight or Flight?
In the days of our ancestors, they would strapline that back and forth mentality as “Fight or flight”. Today, in this moment I choose fight. Not physically, nor mentally - I hope. I refer to the sense of standing still, and acknowledging the change, understanding the change, embracing the change and working through the change. Not something I normally do.
I tell my students while they hold their least favorite yin poses for 7 minutes to ‘notice how you react to this level of discomfort, notice how it sits with you and how you feel with it. What does your instinct tell you to do? Resist the urge to leave your pose. Take the opportunity to challenge yourself, to stay here, learn about yourself. To learn how you react and then notice how you come to a conclusion on how best to react. Find a way to develop a sense of comfort in a not so comfortable position”. So now I find myself being told my own words back to myself as my world as I know it comes falling down around me. So I choose to stay. I choose to learn more about myself, and this situation, and to hopefully, one day, find peace with it.
Am I finally growing up I ask myself? Nope, I have simply come to the realization that life provides us with change in order to give us the life lessons that help to guide us on this journey called life. Remember how I am always saying this quote:
“Life is a journey, not a destination”
Well that is because it is true. Life brings us to exactly where we need to be, always. Perhaps my years of teaching yoga are finally coming to fruition. But I do finally see that change is inevitable.
Mastering the Art of Letting Go
Life is about mastering the art of letting go of expectations, and embracing the unknown.
Yoga is all about learning to live with the consequences of being ourselves. It is taking that step forward despite everything else, choosing to seek out peace and serenity, and inviting happiness and contentment into our lives.
With life comes highs and lows. We cannot have one without the other, so if you are excited about the positive changes that come into life, know that they can’t arrive without the harder ones because that is ebb and flow of life.
Life is unpredictable, we have to embrace every single moment and take the opportunity to learn from each step of this precious journey called life. With every door that closes, another one opens. When we are stuck in the moment of resistance these quotes can sound like time old clichés. But they are clichés for a reason perhaps, no? There are new opportunities everywhere, in everything. You just have to be open to them.
You see the fact is that, sometimes we crave change. Other times we dread it. Either way, we can't escape it. Here's how to live with it—and learn from it.
Making Change Work for You
So how is it that life is spun around out of our control that some people struggle and some people sail through? How is it that some of us wallow in a place of shock and unhappiness or worse still, hopelessness? Instead of accepting change we grace, we dig in our heels and suffer our way through every single day with this focus on the fact that things are not as they should be. Yet some people manage to ride each wave gracefully and still holding their head high regardless of the degree of change affecting them.
Two Key Lessons in Dealing with Change
Loosen Your Grip
When life takes an unprecedented change of direction, there is always that overwhelming feeling of losing control, and that is normal. We are moving into that scary thing called unknown territory. Deep down, we are never in control. My running coach used to scream at me ‘release the hand brake” in the strongest Bermudian accent ever, telling me to let go of the fear I had of running as fast as he knew I was capable of. Breaking those boundaries I had subconsciously created. He was right.
RELAX, because nothing is in control.
Tap Into Wisdom
Learning to make peace with life's calamities—lost jobs, romances, dreams—does not mean you have to be passive.
Sometimes when things don’t go as planned we try to provoke change in our lives. I know I am guilty of this. I always fly straight into making a plan B. Rather than just being with our sadness, anxiety or anger we want to change it. Make it into something else, something more appealing. That inability to sit with what is happening in this present moment can cause us huge amounts of suffering. Yoga can help us with this part.
We practice yoga so that we can be guided from within. In stilling our busy thoughts, we allow ourselves some space to hear our inner voice, a more reliable inner wisdom. The more peaceful the mind, the clearer and stronger your intuition will be, helping you to make better decisions.
6 Simple Ways to Embrace Change
When faced with a change, pleasant or otherwise, I try to tune in to my breath, and how I am feeling in my body. By doing this it allows me time to respond more calmly to an unpleasant situation. It gives me time to properly, focus and settle my mind. It is also fact that pranayama breathing increases our oxygen flow, calms our nervous system and reduces our levels of stress instantly. Perfect!
If you are anything like me, then when change hits you or you feel it approaching the voices in our head go into over drive. Meditation is the ideal solution as it quiets your chattering, anxious mind, allowing you to relax and turn inward. Even just spending a few moments lying on your back with your arms and legs outstretched and focusing your mind only on your breathing is a good starting place. Remove all distractions and background noise and use these few moments to pay attention to the quiet, calming sound of your breath. A regular meditation practice can help to reduce stress associated with change. Try visualizing your heart filling with light and love with every inhale and filling your body with positive energy with every exhale.
Practice mindfulness and being present
Sometimes we need to just accept that as much as we might hate it, we need to be where we are. We need to practice mindfulness and taking the opportunity to be right here, right now, in this perfect moment, taking baby steps in the direction that make us come alive. Sometimes it is important to let the pain be there, not getting over the pain but embracing it. It belongs to you, and it's right to feel it. It's hard to stay with pain, but doing so is an essential part of being human."
We need to enjoy our lives. We get so focused on our destination, that we forget that the energy of life, can be accessed only in the moment. As on the yoga mat, positive life energy will move us forward. In our yoga practice we are encouraged to let our thoughts go, without further engaging them, without believing them. Just letting them be. As we become aware of our minds and let them relax, as we stay aware of the moment, of our breath, and of sensations, purification just happens. The mind releases.
And that is the moment in which transformation occurs.
Set goals for yourself short and long term. This may give you a sense of ownership of the change occurring in your life. It will allow you to reflect and step away from the scared negative emotions you may be feeling.
Focus on what makes you happy
Find your activity, which relaxes you or helps to create clarity. It may be restorative yoga, reading a book, or writing, or it may be something more active like running, or vinyasa flow. Mine is getting upside down. This allows me to get out my large amounts of energy and focus on my goals instead of unknowns in my life. Remind yourself of the simple things in life that make you happy, the steady constants that make you smile, which leads us nicely into the next point.
Practice gratitude - 5 things a day that make you smile
Every time I find myself a little bit lost or coping with life’s latest curveball, I remind myself to go back to basics. To think about the things that I can be grateful for in my life, for the things that make me smile each day. I make a point of tasking myself to write down 5 things a day which make me smile, and normally I find myself struggling to limit it to 5 things as I realize just how much I have to be grateful for in my daily life. Remember to choose happiness, and smile.
Life is all about change, about being open to what comes next. Learning to stay focused on the positives in life. Being able to embrace the opportunity to move in the direction that makes you come alive.
Caroline Layzell is a certified 500-hour yoga instructor, based on the paradise island of Nusa Lembongan, just off Bali, where she is lucky enough to be teaching yoga full time at the Yoga Shack Lembongan. When she is not doing yoga she can be found underwater diving with the beautiful manta rays in Lembongan. Diving is her moving meditation! Caroline came to yoga after a lifetime of marathon training, cross country running, triathlons and short distance races. It helped her to put her body back together after numerous injuries, and it is here that her passion for yoga began. Now she is a self-confessed yoga addict! Join Caroline on Facebook, Instagram or on her website