For many of us, these are trying times and it can be challenging not to fall into collapse and discouragement over our collective political, social, and ecological situation. One of the things I’ve found helpful is to remember that there tend to be natural and inevitable cycles that shift what’s been in the foreground to the background and vice versa. When things look the worst, it sometimes means that change is just around the corner, that the pendulum is reading to swing the other way.
When I do hypnosis with people, one of the constant metaphors I draw on to support the idea of healing, growth, deepening, and discovery is the changing seasons. Even when a season seems to take forever to shift, say, from winter to spring, the shift does eventually happen. I may feel that spring is never going to emerge, that the green will never return to Central Park, that the days will never be light again. During times like these, I find myself drawing on the metaphor of the fact that the season will eventually change, no matter what, which supports my ability to re-center myself.
This doesn’t mean we need to become passive and wait for change before being able to do anything. Instead, it means we can draw on the inevitability of change as a companion along the way, and allow ourselves to be open to move, or be moved, in the direction we’d hope to see emerge within the cycle of change, recognizing that nothing stays the same, ever. One of the core Buddhist teachings is that change happens, always, with everything. Sometimes that can be a scary thought, when we are in a situation that we want to stay as it is. At times like these, though, the fact that change happens, always, in every case, can be a call for optimism, for possibility, for being part of where that change is going.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to notice how you support yourself when you feel like giving up, when you feel overwhelmingly discouraged, when you feel like there’s no point in trying to do anything to stem the flood of bad news and collective suffering. What do you draw on to give yourself a wider picture of possibility? For example, do you search out examples of where people are actively engaged in helping one another, serving the planet, creating options that offer viable and positive solutions to our collective human problems?
For this week, pay particular attention to how you offer yourself the kind of psychological food that allows you to feel whatever pain or fear may be present but where you also remember that change is inevitable. In whatever ways this makes sense to you, give yourself a bit of time each day to draw on inspiration of any kind that nourishes and supports your ability to access a sense of possibility, and that supports tapping into your inherent steadiness.
I’ve often described to friends and colleagues how I spend time each morning with inspirational documentaries, talks, and interviews as I get ready for the day. I never start a day without something inspirational in my awareness, as I find that setting the tone for the day in this way, right at the beginning, has a positive effect on me regardless of what the day may bring. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember the good news of the morning.
Play with what works best for you, finding and reinforcing what nourishes and sustains you as you move through your everyday life. Remember that where you focus your attention is where you resonate, is the filter through which you perceive your world and the experiences unfolding in it. Without denying the suffering and struggles we have individually and collectively, allow yourself access to the fact that there are also amazingly positive things happening in communities all over the world and it can help a lot to have an awareness of the whole picture as you move through your daily life.