It feels like a safe statement to call this time in our history transitional, even though we don’t know exactly what we are transitioning to.
Change is being thrust on us (irrespective of who we currently blame or credit) and our politicians, economists, scientists, etc are just trying to keep up. All the systems we rely on are changing at full speed to keep up with the new requirements.
Change is in the wind, whether we like it or not! For some this is frightening. For others, we may welcome it but we still have to deal somehow with personal losses and with a new uncertainty. Many of us may wish that we could freeze our lives back at some earlier point in history where life was simpler, but we don’t seem to have that choice.
The stress that we feel in times of change can clearly be about getting to know our attachments. Without life staying the same, how are we to know if we are going to be allright? We therefore attach habitually to what has seemed to provide stability in the past. It is a natural search for a way to be sure that we are going to survive. We are programmed for survival, and this is not a bad thing, but it is only one of our capacities, and we either balance it with our other capacities in transitional times, or we feel a lot of stress.
We also have the capacity to turn our attention away from our self-centered survival mechanisms that are hard-wired into us when we see that those mechanisms are no longer helpful.
Stop a moment and see if this is true for you.
I say we are no longer simply reacting to the world in pre-programmed patterns. A major change has occurred quietly. Some would call it meta-cognition maybe? I don’t know. It seems to be an ability to be aware of our thinking, to observe it and change our relationship to it. The same with our emotions.
So we see ourselves reacting to change and uncertainty about the future with fear-based thinking. Yet after we’ve observed this behavior enough times, it doesn’t grip us the same way. We stand apart, noticing the fear, rather than overtaken by it. We see what we are doing. We have reached a tip-over-point. Awareness of fear feels different than blind absorption in it. We are outgrowing our programming and the world opens up wider. We have a spectrum of possible responses to what we have become aware of — not just the fight or flight options we had before.
When we talk to people who lived through the Great Depression, one of the things that we hear is that it was a time when people had so much taken away that a new appreciation of the non-materialistic aspects of life naturally surfaced. One can hear things like this today on the news. When catastrophe hits, people are surprised by how happy they can be just to have each other, or just to see another sunrise. Change and difficulty seem to give us the opportunity to step back, become aware of ourselves in new ways, and return to what is really important to us.
Where does that take you?
I get taken to “That which doesn’t change”, both in me and in the world. The swirl of change in the world takes me to awareness of my conditioning sometimes — that’s fine too. But by welcoming that, I am taken farther. I am taken into a solid and unchanging reality that lies behind the play of light and sound on the surface of life, to the perfect Peace, the vibrantly alive Love, that is completely beyond my comprehension.
If we were to go from being a millionaire to a pauper, or from well to sick, happy to sad, or visa versa, there is something in us that doesn’t change when those things change. Life thrusts us back towards something more essential, something behind the window-dressing of life. This is where we find the deep nourishment that all the outer circumstances and material possessions couldn’t give us. This is what we were looking for all along. And this is where all the troubles of our lives finally manage to bring us (in spite of all our objections).
So I say, if our changing world has brought you stress, then let your troubles be your friends, and see what they are showing you about who YOU, are.
Â© 2009 Alice Gardner