By Diane Kistler
Each morning I randomly select a card from my Power Thought card deck written by Louise Hay. These cards were a gift from a student and I hold each sentiment, affirmation and thought dearly in my own heart. These cards become my intention for my day.
After the random pick, I shuffle them so whatever shows up tomorrow is meant to be. Even with this shuffle, the card that has been showing up consistently is this card:
On the front: I am safe; it’s only change
On the back: I cross all bridges with joy and ease.
The “old” unfolds into wonderful new experiences.
My life gets better all the time.
For me, there’s a lot to unpack in each of those sentences.
I feel resistance to change and find it hard to believe at that moment that any change may bring about something glorious. I am fearful of change. It stews up uncertainty and I feel it physically in my gut. This visceral feeling is uncomfortable and I want change to go away.
But then when I reflect back on what change has brought me over my life, I see that it is not all bad. It may have caused some discomfort and suffering, but over and over good things have sprouted up from it.
How can I shift from thinking, “Change is bad,” to “Change could be awesome”?
And can I feel safe in the face of change along the way?
As cliche as it may seem, a good strategy for embracing change is learning to Let go. Let go of what I think life should look like; Let go of the idea that familiar is always better; Let go of the fear of the unknown.
But how do we get there?
For me, my yoga practice has been key in helping me navigate life’s challenges, including learning to welcome change. I have seen this for my yoga therapy clients as well.
The yoga mat can be an excellent training ground for becoming who we want to be in the world.
Many of my yoga students with chronic pain come to class scared to move, for fear that movement will exacerbate their pain. I invite them to sit in any way that serves them, gently guide their attention inward, and notice the sensations of the body just as they are. Sometimes my students observe shifts and changes in the sensations. Being able to tune into present sensations with curiosity and not fear is a skill we can hone.
If we become aware of a sensation that feels tense or unsafe, we can try changing the way we breathe, relaxing our muscles, or reminding ourselves that we are safe. If the sense of tension or danger persists, I remind myself and my students that we have the agency to change what we are doing. We can change the position of the body, move more slowly, take a break, or anything else that eases the discomfort.
When we are skillful in observing our changing sensations and thoughts, we can be confident in the action we take in response to what we find. Although we often cannot control change, in this way we can become active participants in the way change affects us. When we shift from a sense of helplessness to a sense of affecting change, we begin to move away from fear and toward felt safety.
What does this look like beyond the yoga mat and in the world?
Let’s say you’re at your grocery store and they are out of your favorite juice. Observe any tension around that: visceral, mental, and emotional. Take a deep breath, relax your muscles, and bring yourself into the present moment. Perhaps a new possibility will open up and you’ll find another juice to try.
This may seem like a little thing, but the responses and patterns we repeat in the small moments become how we are in the big moments. The more we practice becoming aware of our reactions, the more we practice regulating our reactions, and the more we practice discerning what we need to do to help ourselves, the easier it becomes.
And so I smile each time that I draw that inspirational card. It is a reminder of the goodness that can come about with change, that I have an active role in how I deal with change and at the end of the day, that I am safe.