During times of change and decisions making, it is absolutely normal to go through emotional turmoil and repeatedly asking yourself the same questions: ‘Am I doing the right thing? Is this what I really want?’… Being paranoid, having doubts, is all part of that package that makes us human, especially when we found ourselves in a position where we want to leave the present situation, for a future that is unknown; as you say, better the Devil you know (than the devil you don’t).
But if we get so attached to our life and routine, just because it makes us feel in control, we will eventually find ourselves living a life full of regrets. Now I am not saying that everyone should swap the city life for the country life in Nature (that’s my dream), but I am certainly saying that if you have a dream that is pulsating in your heart, making you smile and giving you a sense of freedom every time you think about it, you have to make it come true, in one way or another! You should find the courage to face change and uncertainty and take that risk… so that one day, even if things go wrong and not as you wished for, you can be satisfied that at least you tried.
The most difficult thing to do in these cases is to find the courage of letting go the things that makes us feel confortable and safe. We are creatures of habits, and get confortable in easy routines, and even if we get bored and frustrated by them, we’d rather complaining but not change the situation. How many time you hear people complaining about their job, but not doing much to find a new one.
Even more difficult is letting go things that make you happy in your present life, for a future life that is full of uncertainties and doubts. This is the problem I am facing in this period: I love my life in London, it’s a life that I have created with sacrifice, but at the same time I also know that I need a change, Nature and simple living are calling! And although you cannot ignore the call of Nature, the Change that goes with it means uncertainty, which means unknown, which means not having control. This is exciting but at he same time it is scary for our human mind, especially when you are nearly 40, and that recklessness that you had in your 20s is hardly there anymore. Finding a job in London is fairly easy, finding a source of income in the country is a bit more difficult, especially if you relocate in a place where you don’t know anyone, and you do have to start again, from scratch. But hopefully with my Meditation and Art skills, and my husband with his super DIY skills, we will be able to find something that will give us the possibility to support a simpler life in the country. We are definitely not looking for a fancy life style, we just want to enjoy life, in a simple way, in Nature.
So, a Buddhist and a eager Meditation practitioner and teacher, in periods of confusion I have the tendency to go through my introspective moments, thinking, analysing and questioning anything going through my heart, and through my mind. I have always been a great believer in the power of the connection with your surrounding, trusting that when your heart and mind are open in truthfulness towards one direction, the ambient around you starts to respond to that, giving you signals and guiding you towards the right path. We need to put effort into things in order to make them happen, but sometimes we also need to be able to let things be and follow an effortless path, almost like going with the flow and listening to your surrounding. When things are decided with your hearth, following the truth, the ambient is there to support you, to protect you. We are made of energy, and surrounded by energy. We just need to learn to listen to it.
So as I am facing a period of confusion, the ambient decided to remind me, as to wake me up, the beautiful concept of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. In some way Buddha really was the very first psychologist: he taught us how to empower our mental state, he taught us how to be more prepared to embrace the change and transformation that life throw at us, so that we are able to deal and ease the many emotional turmoil that sometimes come to visit us. We are so used to control our lives, to the point that we start to live a life following a routine that eventually will cause us depression and anxiety. We forget that in order to transform our lives, we need first to let go of our attachments, so that life can take its course, in a creative and innovative way.
Through the four Noble Truths we can really understand the importance of living in the present moment, where we will find the courage to start the journey into the unknown, and go with the flow of transformation. If you want to read more about the concept of letting go, and a very well written interpretation of the Four Noble Truths, I strongly recommend the book ‘Wise Mind, Open Mind’ by Ronald Alexander, always good to have in hand during difficult and confusing times.
“The first noble truth: In life, there is suffering, because of the impermanent nature of things.
Because we feel more secure when we have a sense of predictability, we develop a great capacity for denying a simple truth: that nothing stays the same. Then the unpredictability of life shows us that even if we do everything “right” and exercise every precaution, we can still face unexpected loss.
When this happens the shock can make it hard to regain your equanimity and exercise non-reactivity. Too often, rather than surrender to the inevitability of change and work creatively with it, people resort to the fear-based behavior of trying to take charge and force other people and situations to conform to their expectations. The first noble truth of Buddhism is a reminder not to slip into the avoidance behavior of denial. While it’s not wise to create gloomy thoughts about how matters might take a turn for the worse, consciously ignoring the reality that all situations transform sets you up for a great shock when that time comes.
The second noble truth: Suffering is due to attachments and expectations, to grasping and clinging.
Your inability to avoid change may make you angry, sad, and frustrated. It can be hard to let go of the false belief that the only way to achieve happiness again is to regain what’s been lost. Even when you know you can’t reverse the situation, you may agonize over this reality.
Clinging to what once was, avoiding the process of grief and acceptance, causes paralysis. Grasping for a future set of circumstances identical to the past holds you back from discovering what better roads lie ahead, outside of your sight. The desire to backtrack or reconstruct will likely result in your walking around in circles, lost in the dark woods, instead of peering around corners to find new paths.
The third noble truth: It’s possible to end suffering by giving up attachments (clinging) and expectations (grasping).
The shift in perspective that comes when we recognize that there’s no such thing as a permanent sense of happiness begins our healing from suffering. The next step is to accept that we must broaden our definition of what we need in order to be happy, giving up the habits of clinging and grasping, as well as the need to control external circumstances.
After emerging from the shock of a great loss, we’re even more despairing about the possibility of being joyful again. However, the third noble truth offers us the promise of a new way of living that’s as satisfying, if not more fulfilling, than the old. It beckons us to begin the process of transformation.
The fourth noble truth: The way to end suffering due to clinging and grasping is through balance and living in the present.
It’s important to balance a thirst for something better with an acceptance of what is, right now. Balance allows you to live in the present moment and trust that your acceptance will clear the mist of confusion and distractions, and show you the way to move forward into happiness again. Here’s the paradox of change: until you can accept what is, you cannot move into what might be.
When we cling to the past or what no longer serves us, we contract ourselves to the point where we’re unable to be nourished and invigorated by the present moment. We have to accept that what’s past has truly passed in order to open up to what the present moment offers us. In this opening we become nourished, refreshed and revitalized.”
Like many philosophers have already stated, Change is the only certainty in life. Our approach and state of mind towards Change can definitely make a difference in how we welcome a new chapter in our lives.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts