Walking across Central Park one morning, I became aware of the returning presence of birdsong throughout the park. It’s always a sure sign of spring and, along with the brightening of the light, touches me with the promise of the season to come. It also reminds me of the inevitability of change and of the gift of having a head’s up that change is coming, no matter how subtle that signal may be.
As a trauma therapist, and someone who works with shock trauma on a pretty consistent basis, I know the price the body and psyche pay when experiences emerge for which there was no warning. As a person who constantly delves into new information about science and processes in nature, I also keep in mind the idea of “emergence”, of the ways in which nature seeks novelty and brings together unlikely elements to create something new. I mentioned this in a prior practice, about how bringing together two air elements—a molecule of oxygen and a molecule of hydrogen—creates an unexpected outcome—a fluid, water. For me, this demonstrates how nature is full of surprises, how life is full of surprises, and that we never really know what will emerge within the context of a new cycle.
For this week’s practice, I offer a double invitation. First, notice what happens if you pay a bit more attention than you might normally do to small signs of change. It could be a change of any kind. For example, I’m in the process of preparing my apartment to receive new cat members of the family and that pending change has sparked a cycle of shifts and reorganization that reflect what is coming in the near future. There’s also the return of daffodils and other bulbs in the park, which signal the inevitable change of season from cold mornings to warm ones, and the return of green.
Secondly, on a larger scale, as you notice signs of change in your community, or your country, or the world, keep in mind the underlying dynamic of “emergence”. Notice what it’s like to remember that nature, life, seeks novelty and brings together unlikely elements to create previously unimagined outcomes. With my emphasis on optimal futures in my own life, I have an intense curiosity as to what an emerging optimal future might reveal that I’ve never even begun to imagine.
As you play with this week’s practice, take time to notice how your body responds to your awareness of signs of change and of the possibilities inherent in the underlying dynamics of emergence. Then, notice how the state of your body affects your mood, your thoughts, feelings, your overall internal quality of being. If you find that you are tense or stressed, take a few moments to focus on something that touches an awareness of possibility, no matter how small that possibility may be.
One of the things I do when I’m tense is shift into my heart space and then take time to look at an object, image, or living being I love, or some other source of inspiration. Then, I take a few moments to soak that in and let it touch my body-mind being. I stay with it until I begin to soften.
As with all these practices, there is no right way to do this one. It’s an invitation to yet again experience how profoundly affected you are by where you focus your attention and where you “dial in” and linger with your awareness—the source of the psychological food you offer yourself as you move through the day. Remember to invite curiosity as your constant companion and to pat on the head any judgments or self-criticisms that may arise as you explore this practice.