You might have heard the ole adage, 'There's only two things you can count on in life - death and taxes." Well, I'd like to add "change" to that list. No matter how you slice it, change is inevitable. Try all you want to dig your heels in and keep things exactly as they are, and the result will only cause you to suffer. Adaptability is the key.
The Nature of Change
I happen to love change. Take nature for example. The picture you see to the left is one I took as I walked my two dogs in a nearby nature preserve near Dallas, Texas. Notice the wintry-looking bare trees surrounded by the colorful wildflowers as Spring begins to emerge. (The dogs are pretty cute too!)
The picture is a reminder to me that behind every 30-degree blustery winter day, there is a bright and colorful future coming soon. It gives me hope and encouragement to continue moving forward, one step at a time - to be present and embrace the moment in all its grace and beauty. Although change is inevitable, not everyone finds it easy to adapt to the change.
Choose to Change
Some people like to stay in their comfort zone. No harm in that. But what if staying where you are is causing you to suffer? Maybe the suffering has been going on so long that you just decided to live with it. It's like a chronic pain or discomfort that you accept as status-quo, and well, it's just easier to ignore it than do something about it.
Or maybe you have a friend or partner in your life who treats you badly. You know, the kind of people in your life who make you feel what I describe as "small and crunchy." They fill you with self-doubt and chip away at your confidence.
So, what if one day you woke up and said, "Enough! I deserve better." You turn that self-doubt into self-love and choose not to suffer. You decide that you are worth having a happy heart, and a life filled with people who cherish and respect you.
I know it's easier said than done. Change doesn't happen over night. Small shifts lead to big change. So, I thought I'd give you a little kickstart on your journey to creating the change you desire with a little recipe from my dear ole mom.
Ingredient #1: Accept Change
That beautiful, happy, gray-haired woman that I have my arm around in the cover photo above and with my dad below is my mom, Lilith Kopman. She is about to be 85 years old, and she is my hero. This past year she experienced two heart-breaking changes that, unfortunately, is unavoidable for most of us in our life time. First, after 63 years of marriage, she lost her husband, who was the love-of-her-life, to a grueling battle with cancer.
This prompted the second change. After living in the same house on Long Island, New York for nearly 60 years, she is moving to Dallas to live near me.
Despite these profound lifetime changes, Mom is doing adapting well. Yes, it's still overwhelming and emotionally draining as she sifts through decades of old photos and decides on what items to take or leave behind. But she marches on, one step at a time.
I believe one reason she is adapting so well is because she accepts that change is inevitable. I actually didn't know if she would survive the loss of my dad, but once he passed, she chose to accept her fate and move on to the next chapter of her life.
I've often told her that her default is to be happy. She's just wired that way. Accepting change is one way for her to achieve her natural state of being.
Ingredient #2: Non-Attachment
To think that my mom isn't lying on the floor of her home in a fetal position in a state of paralysis is beyond me. Every time I think of all that she is giving up to live near me - her home, her friends her favorite grocery store, her doctors - I am in awe and so grateful.
When I say this to Mom, her reply is that she isn't attached to anything. Ok, there is one thing Mom can't let go of. Dad's hairbrush that he had for at least two decades to comb over those few hairs he had left on his head-but other than that, she's good.
Mom says that the most important thing to her now is to be near me, which truthfully is what we both wanted for the last 27 years I have been living in Dallas. But because my dad was attached to his home and his life there, they wouldn't move.
Attachment leads to suffering. Whether you're attached to a place, a person or even an idea, if you are unable to let go, you will suffer. If you are attached to one way of doing or thinking about things, you will never grow. When you explore other possibilities, you will enhance your life and the lives of those you touch.
Ingredient #3: Be Present
So how do you accept change and non-attachment? Learn to be present. I mentioned to my Mom the other day about what a terrible year this has been for her between my dad's passing and now moving - two of the most difficult changes anyone can go through in their life. Her response, "I don't look back so much." Instead she focuses on the here and now and what needs to get done.
Mindfulness is the Path to the Present
Mindful practices, such as Yoga, conscious breathing and meditation, help you become present and adapt to change. They get you out of your head and into the space you are currently in. Worrisome thoughts will still come, but mindfulness helps you recognize them in a non-judgmental way that allows you to let go of those thoughts that aren't serving you.
But mindfulness takes practice. A consistent mindfulness practice experienced over time will increase self-awareness, so you have the power to choose your response to whatever challenges life brings you.
Come Home to Your Breath
If you don't have a mindful practice yet, you can start right now with your breath. Make friends with your breath. Become a aware of it as it moves in and out of your nose, through your lungs, delivering oxygen and life to your cells. Doing this activates your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), so you can relax and become present.
As the world changes around you, and it will, think of your breath as home. It's always there for you wherever and whenever you need it. It is your life force and your companion to help you face any challenges in your life that change may bring.
June 21-23 - Wylie, TX - Ahhhmazing Life Yoga
August 2-4 - Fort Worth, TX - Raja Yoga
October 18-20 - Corinth, TX - Pure Synergy Wellness & Movement
Phyllis Smith is Co-Founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga.
Her company specializes in mindfulness programs for adolescents and teens and those who serve them.
If you would like to learn more about Live Free Yoga programs, email Phyllis at Phyllis@LiveFreeYoga.com or call 214-497-7982.,