CHANGE IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Our quest for a lasting sense of happiness often has us looking for a change of some sort – a change of job, a change of routine, a change of wardrobe, a new car, a new iPhone, etc. It never ends. These are only our external changes. Deeper, personal levels of change, with an aim to create a shift in our own character, require much more effort. This inner change might include – changing our diet, overcoming anger, becoming less judgmental or not being jealous of others success. The elusive happiness that we seek often boils down to, “If I could only change this about myself, I would be much happier.”
This is why the Self Help business has been so popular, and lucrative for so long, it’s all about the secrets of change – The 10 Best Ways to a New You, 5 Secrets to Being a Success in Relationships, How to Be Confident in Decision Making, on and on. It’s all about CHANGE.
The problem we face in this non-stop roller coaster called life is that change is hard. It feels like we just added another 5-mile leg to an ever-steepening up-hill run. Change is work! Change takes effort, consistency and staying motivated. Replacing old habits of thinking and doing isn’t easy like pressing a button to reformat our hard drive.
So, is there a way to create new pathways of growth without the effort required to change? It’s possible, but we may need to rethink the word “change” and what it means to us.
Is change really a process that we participate in? Is change something we do?
My wife loves planting flowers; she creates an amazing garden, all in pots arranged on the deck of our house. All summer we enjoy our morning coffee amongst the flowers and steady stream of hummingbirds. One morning I was alone on the deck happily enjoying the sounds of nature waking up. I had just finished my morning meditation when I had a simple realization – nothing in nature is trying to change.
If you plant a maple tree seed, give it the proper soil and water and sunlight – it begins to sprout. After a couple of years of growth it looks quite different, it’s now a sapling. In a few more years it fills out, the young tree trunk becomes stronger. In a hundred years it towers over us, endless branches reaching up to the sky. All of the change that we witness is the result of growth. The tree grows and change is the result.
If we look at photos of ourselves from an infant to a youth to an adult, we see we had changed dramatically. Our body doesn’t think about changing, it just grows. Change is the result.
There is a saying that says, “The only thing that never changes is change itself.” After that morning I realized this is not completely correct. It may be better to say that the only thing that never changes is growth. Growth is the process and change is the result. So, if change is the result of growth shouldn’t we be focusing on growth? Actually no! Growth also happens on it’s own. It’s a natural process. When we’re born we grow. We can’t get any taller each day by stretching our legs.
So, if we want to participate in our own evolution in a way that enhances the process of growth and results in personal change, what is our job?
Our job is to create and nourish an environment that promotes growth and results in change.
How simple! Let’s again look at the example of growing a small garden. We plant some seeds in the earth, water them and on occasion pull the weeds. The rest of the time they grow without much care on our part. The results are the fruits and vegetables.
Shifting our mindset from one of struggling with self-imposed change to creating a nurturing environment, we no longer need to struggle. The process of growth also becomes easier and natural.
There is a saying: “If you break an egg from the outside, life ends. If the egg breaks from inside, life begins.”
Inner growth itself brings the required effort to break out of the shell and emerge into a different dimension of life. That growth is the result of a proper environment.
Successful growth is determined by environment. If the soil is prime and water is plentiful seeds will grow and flourish. If the environment is a desert – dry and sandy, the seeds will not grow, or in the best case will not grow to their full potential.
On the external level we all know how environment can affect our comfort zone: when it’s too hot we go inside and put the AC on. We just don’t perform well when our environment is too difficult to function in. We may be in a school that doesn’t suit us or a work environment that feels stifling. When it becomes too much to bear and begins to affect our emotional comfort zone, we’ll usually say that we have to make a change. What we’re actually looking for is a new environment. If our environment is not conducive to our growth we become unhappy and less productive.
Creating an external environment, one that provides us a field for growth and happiness is easy to understand but what about our inner environment? What about the environment that I live in 24/7, the one I never leave? We rarely even think about it.
What are the things I can do to design and nurture my inner environment and make it conducive to my growth? What type of soil, water, nutrients, air and sunshine can create the super-environment for my own evolution?
Inside us are many levels of systems that all work together which, when in harmony, create the baseline or comfort zone for our life. Just as water has differing states from solid ice to fluid state to mist in the air, the body has layers of density: the dense skeletal system, the pliable muscles and our fluid system. It gets even subtler: we need oxygen from the air; we have an electro-magnetic field, our mind, our thoughts and feelings. Many of us believe there is yet something even subtler: the essence of life, what some call the soul, Self or consciousness.
If any of these are out of balance we experience discomfort and in the extreme case – disease. Science has proven that our subtle mental environment, the state of our thoughts, feelings and emotions, has a profound impact on all the other denser body systems. It makes sense that if we can improve our subtlest system it will impact the whole.
This brings us to the question:
How do I create and nourish an inner environment that promotes growth and results in change?
The flowers on our back porch require nourishment from various levels of nature’s energy spectrum to grow, from the densest to the subtlest in order: earth, water, air and sunlight. Just as we nourish our body with food and nourish our mind with knowledge we need to be an active participant in the nourishment of our consciousness. The tool for cultivating that subtlest inner environment is meditation.
The practice of Heartfulness offers a couple of unique ways to develop our inner environment.
In order to prepare the field it’s necessary to remove the weeds and stones so that our seeds can have room to grow. This we call the cleaning or rejuvenation process. Through this cleaning we remove the inner clutter and impressions, which are the root cause of those patterns and traits in our life that we want to change.
After clearing the way, we need to add water, sunlight and nutrients. Heartfulness draws from the subtlest energy resource – referred to as pranahuti or life essence. We call this transmission. Just as sunlight is the subtlest energy source for our plants, through transmission we receive the finest life essence, invigorating the Self within. This transmission is something that you can feel and experience for yourself.
Like the example of the egg, by cultivating and nurturing our inner environment as offered through Heartfulness meditation, we bring about the possibility of breaking out into a new dimension of life, thus expressing our true potential. So, if instead of working to change, we spend a little time each day watering that subtle Self, we’ll be able to grow in an infinite field of possibilities.
Soon we’ll find that, instead of pushing our car uphill we are crossing life’s difficult terrain in a hot air balloon. Instead of us forcing to change our life, life is leading us forward.