Yesterday and today

A couple of days ago, the dramatic, over-night change in the weather reminded me of the nature of quantum transformation.

IMG_7397-2
Yesterday, the conditions of spring
IMG_7415-2
Today, the conditions of winter

The contrast between the yesterday and today photographs, visually highlights the nature of quantum change. All of the conditions, premises, perceptions and patterns have changed.

Due to the speed of the change, shock, disbelief, surprise and/or amazement are some of the reactions of those who witness this transformation.

When a person has undergone a transformational change, all assumptions, perceptions and the premises on which one makes decisions, will change. It becomes impossible to see or experience the world in the old way. In short, one sees the world from a totally new perspective. It is a reset that catapults one onto another level.

The eyes find it difficult to see or perceive slow change. In nature, for example, animals keep still as a way of camouflage so as not to be seen. The eyes are able to detect movement, but find it difficult to see stillness, especially if this stillness continues in time. In order to see still objects in space, the eyes need to make small movements themselves.

So in essence, the eyes need movement (either internally or externally) to see.

Due to the seemingly uneventful process that unfolds in everyday ordinary life when slow change occurs, the mind loses interest or gets distracted in the process. It does not pay attention to the small changes that are unfolding. While this is a natural mental phenomenon, it can create problems further down the line if the small changes accumulate in a destructive way and are not dealt with. This non-response usually results in crisis, which has a built up energetic power to activate the possibility of a positive transformation. This transformation will only manifest, however, if one has the courage, determination and openness to examine the premises and assumptions of the old worldview that may have contributed to the decay. Taking ownership for the old, supports the emergence of the new.

Practices such as meditation, tai chi and conscious mindfulness help train the mind to keep noticing what is unfolding in the present moment. In so doing, these practices help you become aware of the small changes of life that are unfolding right in front of you. Being able to see the subtlety, simplicity and beauty of these small changes (or movements), is as meaningful as when one witnesses or experiences significant transformational change that results in surprise, shock or amazement.

IMG_6432-2
It has been a long winter road

Neutralising emotional turbulence as water falls

There are many spectacular hikes in the Black Forest in Germany.

On some hikes, you come across a beautiful waterfall. You always hear it before seeing it. The distant sound of the movement and rush of water draws you closer and closer. And then finally, it fully reveals itself to you.

Each waterfall is unique and has a dynamic personality that is determined by the interaction of the amount of water falling and the nature of the terrain that it is having to navigate over. In its movement down, the water is only answerable to gravity as it gets pulled along and down to a place that eventually offers some peace and tranquility.

On a metaphorical level, water falling can represent many things:

  • turbulence
  • rapid change
  • pulsating excitement
  • risk
  • chaos
  • conflict and anger
  • dynamic of letting go and holding on
  • giving up or losing control
  • trusting in life’s force
  • releasing resistance
  • seeking tranquility

If you are feeling emotionally unsettled, it helps to sit quietly near a waterfall and ‘feel’ the energy of the water cascading down. The rapid movement of the water resonates with your emotions, which helps to neutralise the inner turbulence that you may be experiencing.

If you are not near a waterfall, looking at a photograph of a waterfall for a couple of minutes can have the same effect. I have attached some photographs below. Choose one that resonates with you, and as you look, soften your gaze, breathe evenly and relax. And then let your mind go wherever it wants to move to.

IMG_1233

Time and change in a field of sunflowers

Six weeks ago I stopped next to a field of beautiful sunflowers. It was early morning. There was not a cloud in the sky. The flowers seemed to be worshiping the sun as they orientated themselves to the light and warmth. They appeared to be celebrating the start of a new day. Their body language reflected an abundance of optimism as they smiled joyfully.

As I looked at the sunflowers, no flower was the same. As in a sporting team, they conformed in dress, yet each reflected a uniqueness.

The new
Early morning

Metaphorically, opportunities and potentialities in life are associated with a new day as the sun first appears at dawn. As with a new born baby, there is much hope associated with the new emerging energy.

It was late afternoon, on a cloudy day when I stopped next to the same field of sunflowers. Six weeks had passed since my first walk in the field. How different they now were. They seemed to be weeping, heads drooped. Their youthful state had passed. They were now ready to have their seeds harvested.

The old
Six weeks later – late afternoon

As with all healthy processes, an end invites a new beginning.

This is the nature of life, never-ending cycles moving in time. However, despite the changing phases, there is a constant in the evolutionary process – healthy systems sustain and perpetuate themselves over time.

As a day or a month or year unfolds, there is a beginning and an end. But beginnings and ends are convenient punctuations that are intellectually defined to break the never-ending flow of time.

Due to the relativity of time, one does not always notice change. It is only when you ‘freeze frame’ a specific moment in time and compare it to another, that change is highlighted.

Responding to major change

Adapting to a major change process is a challenge, especially when it comes to having to deal with a foreign language. I have recently re-located to Germany for an indefinite period, and have had to deal with many administrative processes that require not only knowing how the system works, but also having to understand a foreign language and all of its subtleties.

As I encounter those around me, it feels like I am enveloped in a sea of ‘gibberish’. Nothing makes sense. There are no anchors to hold onto, no cues to connect with. It makes one feel powerless.

My work as a therapist is all about language, stories and the creation of meaning. My struggle with not being able to ‘converse’ effectively with others was therefore acutely heightened. I was having first-hand experience of the power of ‘not having language’.

As I thought more about my situation, the image of a one-year-old responding to his(her) environment came to the fore. This image offered me ‘an attitudinal approach’ to how I should respond to the major change that had occurred. Four ideas were activated by the image, which helped align me to a clearer philosophy and methodology going forward.

In time

‘In time’ suggested that I need not rush or panic about the new unfolding process. I needed to be patient with myself. With consistent practice, it would only be a matter of time, before I would be acquiring new knowledge and the necessary language skills. This realisation helped to settle me.

Beginner’s mind

A beginner’s mind is an inquiring mind that engages the environment in a non-judgemental way. It is also a responsive mind that acts spontaneously. Unlike the mind of a one-year-old which does not have any previously ingrained knowledge and language codes, I was filled with an old established pattern of language. I now needed to let go of the ‘old’ and embrace the new input in order to acquire a new set of codes and meanings.

Being present and playful

To be effective in any learning situation, you need to be fully present and focused in the unfolding moment. In helping babies perform on television commercials I have always been amazed at how concentrated and focused a baby is when playing and exploring. As I thought about this, I realised that I needed to lighten up and become more playful in the process. I had become too intense. I needed to laugh more and not take myself so seriously.

Appreciation

Joy and appreciation are linked. Without appreciation, there can be no joy. As I thought deeper about the challenge of learning a new language, a part of me started to feel excited. The situation was offering me a gift to expand myself and to encounter the true diversity of life.

Concluding remarks

On a general level, internal resistance is activated initially, when encountering any change. The greater the change, the stronger the resistance. In dealing with change, however, adjustment is required. Adjustment and resistance are inversely related: the more the resistance (the more the rigidity), thus reducing the ability to relax, which in turn, impacts on one’s ability to adjust.

Letting go of resistance, and aligning yourself with the attitude and playfulness of a one-year-old allows you to embrace change in a flexible way. Opportunities to learn more about yourself occur and new knowledge and skills can be acquired more effortlessly.

On a therapeutic level, dealing with the change has offered me insights into the intra- and interpersonal complexities of what it feels like to be an ‘outsider’, due to the inability to access and utilise the vehicle of connection, which is predominantly language (for adults).

Watch me play
Playing

Making a significant life decision

There will be a time in your life when you will be confronted with having to make a major life decision.

A friend was discussing his intention to emigrate and stated that ‘hanging around is like death’. He added that ‘hanging around in life’ was a difficulty that he had been encountering over time. His life was going nowhere and he was feeling immobilised, stuck and blocked. He seemed to be experiencing a slow death due to the lack of movement in his life.

The creation of reality starts as a thought and a major life decision may take time to make. Even after making the decision, there may be an oscillation between ‘yes-no’, coupled with doubt and fear. Getting conscious change to occur in your life takes determination and courage since there is a homeostasis that has to be challenged.

Your emotional security is wrapped up in the familiar patterns of interaction which define your life. When making a life decision which requires significant change, you will encounter uncertainty and unpredictability. Moving into a future that has not yet unfolded is an uncomfortable mental process, since there is no familiarity to anchor onto. Moving into the unknown, requires trust and takes courage.

The process of making a decision is only the first stage of the movement of change that you may wish to achieve. After the decision, little action steps need to occur. Thinking needs to transform into action. In the initial stages of action, there may be little or no movement. It may feel as if you are not getting any traction. This may activate feelings of despondency and doubt. Your sense of self-empowerment may dwindle.

The unfolding process may have a paradoxical feel to it. Internally, you are likely to experience turbulence with energy pulling and pushing you in a fragmenting way. In contrast, you may feel stagnant, with no significant movement being evident when you assess your external progress. The process will require patience. Creating rigid expectations of how things will unfold and the pace thereof, may inadvertently build up frustration. Instead, try and relax and be open to the unexpected and the range of possibilities that may be waiting to emerge.

It is important to keep the bigger picture in mind, as well as the vision of the necessity to change, as a guiding light in the change process. These are your mental anchors. Furthermore, work on keeping emotionally light since the taxing emotional process may make you feel heavy and stuck.

Energy can be likened to fire, as well as, to water. Keeping the metaphor of moving water in mind can assist you in the process. Healthy, clear mountain water flows naturally, moving around rocks and obstacles. Water is fluid and gentle as it makes its way flowing down the mountain.

As I walked along the little river meandering in the forest, I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation of ‘hanging around is like death’.

IMG_9501-1

IMG_4247-1

IMG_4261-1

IMG_9100-1