When things change, often we tighten up. We stiffen ourselves in an attempt to avoid the onslaught, like somehow we will turn ourselves into a unsurpassable mountain and all the waves of changes will simply bounce off of us. We will remain unchanged, and our world will remain the same.
And yet, that kind of reaction just doesn't track in the real world. We all know that even the strongest mountain is eventually whittled down, softened, via the waves and wind that beat at it. If you go into the ocean and just try to stand there, rigid, as the waves approach, you are more likely to be knocked down (often with a wave-slap to the face, saltwater up your nose) than for the waves to suddenly part around you.
This tightening is still my automatic response to big change, I notice myself trying to dig my heels in, refuse to be pulled or pushed. And yet that just doesn't work. Once I notice what I am doing, I try to do my best to just let go, to soften. I try to be gentle with myself and with the situation. Sometimes I will get stressed again, feel overwhelmed by all the change that is hitting me, and then I will still automatically tense, go back to digging in my heels, refusing to go with what is happening.
Sometimes this response is just a part of mental (and sometimes physical) overwhelm, where my spirit just says 'enough', and that is when I have to be the most gentle with myself. Because change is easier to cope with if you aren't feeling like your cup is not even half full, but completely empty, bone-dry.
At the moment I am going through changes, I am exploring the more tender areas of my psyche and my spirit. I am also helping others with big change, and considering some of my own that will be coming along later down the track - later this year, early next year. It is confronting and difficult, and I find myself returning to that place of tightness quite often, hardly ever truly relaxing. But I keep trying to soften - soften into what is happening, soften into who I am and into who I am becoming. And I am finding out some interesting things about the best ways to support myself through the symptoms of overwhelm.
Nature is important - even nature analogies, it seems, help me to come to grips with the changes that are happening within and around me. Being okay with wanting things, but also not setting up expectations of those desires being met (that's a tricky one). Tactile experiences - for example, when I am feeling super stressed out (I'm talking, on the verge of a panic attack, here), I grab something soft, with different experiences of 'soft' all over it, and I allow myself to disappear into tactile sensation, rather than holding onto difficult thoughts.
Feeling cozy seems to be super important to me - Xin pointed out to me very recently that he didn't understand why I needed so many different kinds of pyjamas, and I had to think about that for a little while. And I realised that I had always kind of liked pyjamas, but they only became important to me after I started to really understand how sick I was, and how it wasn't a type of sick that was just going to go away if I ate more garlic or got more fresh air. Coziness became this wondrous thing, a place where not only could I feel more human, more like me, but I could also often be more productive - I started giving my body more comforts so that my mind was able to work a little better. And it's only writing this now that I realise how true this was - when I first started semi-collecting pyjamas/blankets/teas, I was supporting myself in the only way that I knew how - through the experience of feeling cozy and cared for, even if it was just by myself, for myself. This experience of being cozy is something I have carried into my experiences of change - when I get overwhelmed by things, I turn to things that make me feel cozy. [More on this idea of coziness in another post, because it really is a topic all on its own.]
So, as this change continues to occur, I will be turning towards these things in an effort to weather everything. I will be trying not to tense up and avoid things, but loosen up and explore options with love and gentleness. I think change is easier to bear when we soften into it.
Love to all who read.