Change, of course, comes in many guises, both the planned and the unknown. Some is eagerly awaited – a new job, relationship, travel or an expanding home and others feared, where the possibility of loss and diminishment preoccupies our thoughts, however much effort we put into distracting ourselves.
Trying to control change is where it gets complicated and it’s easy to end up with a whole lot more tension to cope with. What can we do that will make a difference when change inevitably happens – whether planned for or unexpected and how can we stay in balance so that we don’t waste our energy getting exhausted by over-excitement or worrying and not lose sight of the bigger picture?
One of the main insights of the Buddha’s teaching relates to understanding that the nature of reality is actually impermanent rather than fixed. His teaching encourages us to see for ourselves the way how our mind deceptively processes information to create a perception that feels solid and certain, and to understand how everything we go through in life is actually part of a continuum of movement.
This is more reassuring than it initially sounds. Why? Because we can unpick where our reflexes to control and distract ourselves are taking us into tension and instead start to observe experience as it unfolds, learning to be more generous and open to what is happening. This requires us to make a certain kind of effort – not the kind that distracts us from what is happening but one which builds a sensitivity to internal somatic shifts and a capacity to release from our tendencies to tense which wastes our energy and depletes us. This change in our attention is how we can connect with a real sense of inner steadiness when change inevitably happens. Making an effort in this way conserves and protects our energy; and it helps us stay in balance with the flow of life, accepting its course, wherever it takes us.