Embrace Change, Find Equanimity

Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The only constant in life is change. Nonetheless, it is human nature is to seek safety and stability, especially when faced with transition. We may feel out of control, groundless, and vulnerable. So, what do we do? Often, we react by bracing against change we hold on fiercely to whatever we can…even if this is something that no longer serves us.

At some point in our lives we tend to learn the hard lesson that resisting the unavoidable changes that come our way creates further suffering.

Within Patanjali’s yoga sutras, we receive guidance regarding how to work with the ever-changing nature of life. Here, we are reminded that we must accept the inevitability of life’s continual changes in order to find greater equanimity or balance. We practice finding our center in the discomfort of embarrassment, shame, discouragement, frustration, anger, and grief is learning equanimity. This center allows us to eventually return to a state of calm…even when life presents us with the most painful of losses. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel pain. However, we do not want to overly identify with the pain.

In Sanskrit, the term, Parinama is the word for transformation or change. Here, we are reminded to allow yoga to help us change and grow as we commit to returning to our physical and mental practices. We see our bodies get stronger and learn how to focus our mind on the present moment. The practice of yoga isn’t about transforming into something better or new. Rather, we are simply letting go and releasing the layers that hide our true nature.

Transformation might initially feel like falling apart; like a breakdown and not a break through. This process can feel, unsettling, indeterminate, and undefined. It is common to feel afraid, if we sense that change is coming. We simply cannot see what lies around the next bend. But, transitional spaces are also full of potential. While we may feel as though life is pulling us backwards; we can also imagine that like the arrow held by the bow; perhaps, this is really life preparing us to fly forward.

Like the caterpillar changing into a butterfly we too must let go of old forms and enter into the unknown in order to emerge anew. Inside the chrysalis, is a transitional space between the past new, emerging self. Living within an undefined and indeterminate reality can feel unsettling. However, over time, we can become more comfortable with letting go; with surrendering to the inevitable changes that accompany this human life.

Our yoga practice can help us learn to tolerable small amounts of discomfort and recognize that difficult experiences do not necessitate reactivity. We learn to become the witness of our mental and emotional reactions and cultivate a connection to an inner source of wisdom. We practice letting go of what is non-essential. As a result, our practice allows us to identify with a quiet and observing grace.

 

Arielle Schwartz, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified yoga instructor with a private practice in Boulder, Colorado. She offers classes in therapeutic yoga for trauma recovery.  She is the author of two books The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Emotional Control and Becoming Whole and EMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology: Interventions to Enhance Embodiment in Trauma Treatment. She is international sought out teacher dedicated to offering informational mental health and wellness updates through her writing, public speaking, social media presence, and blog. Learn more at www.drarielleschwartz.com

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