A lot of big changes have been happening in my life recently and I have noticed that the emotion of fear keeps coming up for me. This got me thinking about the role that fear plays in change. There have been moments in my life when I have been paralyzed by fear, and this fear has driven my decisions, which has in turn driven my life path. Along my journey, I have realized that change is always occurring around us every day, but we don’t often pay attention to it, and therefore we live our lives perceiving that change is this big, difficult, scary thing. We get lost in the trees and miss the entire forest.
Every single thing in our lives is constantly changing. Each breath we take, each move we make, we are changing in order to live and grow. We are living on a blue dot spiraling around the sun at 67,000 mph, and yet, we wake up each day without a thought about this constant motion. Recognizing the role that change has in our every day lives can help us to have courage when faced with “big & scary” changes.
Everything in life is impermanent; everything around us is constantly changing, evolving, growing, living, and dying. Our thoughts and feelings too are constantly changing; yet, our minds tend to focus on very specific and often meaningless details rather than take in the entire picture. When we are in fear mode, our minds are hyper focused on those thoughts with which we are fearful. We have an evolutionary response of fight or flight in order to survive. However, our programming that is trying to protect us often fails us. Sometimes, fear is not there to be avoided or fought, but rather, it is there to give us information and that information is there to be examined.
In order to live a life worth living, it is essential to sit with and get to know our minds, bodies, thoughts, and feelings. Mindfulness, the practice of being aware of the present moment with acceptance and nonjudgmental compassion, is helpful in many ways, but one of them is by teaching us to be brave.
I like to think of mindfulness in the same way that I think of building a relationship with a new client. When clients walk through my door, I welcome them and try to make sure they are comfortable. As the client speaks, I listen. I pay attention to whatever comes up in the room. I use curiosity and meet the client with nonjudgmental compassion. In mindfulness, we are building these relationships with our minds. Applying mindfulness in daily life can help us with change, as it gives us the space to respond to our fears with awareness and intention. It wakes us up to the control we have on our journeys and it wakes us up to truly living. Applying mindfulness in the face of fear has helped me with big changes and I hope that it can be a source of support for you as well.
“When we become inquisitive about these things, look into them, see who we are and what we do, with the curiosity of a young child, what might seem like a problem becomes a source of wisdom.” –Pema Chodron