Continuing Reflections on Change

Today was an absolutely glorious day in the Black Hills!  A tantalizing reminder that winter really won’t go on forever.  Of course, as Mark Twain said, if we don’t like the weather we can wait a minute and it will change.  This is just one more reason to enjoy each moment while it lasts.

How about taking a lesson from our weather and recognizing that change is happening all the time all around us.  Externally and internally.  So when you think that you will always be a certain way because that’s the way you think you’ve always been, my favorite philosopher/astrologer Caroline Casey would say “until now!”  Very little is etched in stone.  And even if it is, the stone is likely to erode or crumble at some point.  Change is always possible.  It’s all a matter of attitude and perception.

In a recent article in Tricycle Magazine, Sharon Salzberg, a well-known meditation teacher, reflected on mindful meditation as being “ like going into an old attic room and turning on the light”.  She writes:

It’s never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it’s been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been dark for 10 minutes, 10 years, or 10 decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see things you couldn’t see before. It’s never too late to take a moment to look.

Change doesn’t always happen instantly, though, even when we really want it to.  Sometimes breaking an old habit can be tough.  It requires practice and a recognition that the change may take some time.  First a commitment is required and then a consistent effort to let go of the old and familiar and bring in the new and unknown.  But I believe all things are possible with commitment and practice.  We’ve all heard the old story of a musician being asked what it takes to get to Carnegie Hall and answering “practice, practice, practice”.  There’s another old saying – “fake it ‘til you make it”.  Sometimes going through the motions of practice is enough to maintain the consistency until you can feel it happening.  Be patient and kind to yourself.  Give yourself a pat on the back for following through on your commitment.

In my classes I will often hear new participants lament “I can’t possibly do that move; I’ve never been able to do that move.”  My own experience tells me a different story.  There was a time when I could not do that move either!  But I kept trying and eventually, with practice, I found (sometimes to my surprise!) that I was actually doing it.  Maybe not perfectly by some standards, but well enough to know I was receiving the benefits.

As a firm believer in practice, I hope you will just keep at it.  Whatever you are trying to accomplish, keep practicing.  Be confident in the knowledge that change will come.  Maybe not the way you expect it, but it will come nonetheless.

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