My husband, for decades, has done a daily Tai Chi practice that involves jump kicks. When those jump kicks became too challenging for his aging body, he stopped doing his morning routine, disappointed. But then he realized he could modify that problem movement to accommodate his body’s current needs.
That’s one of many examples of how we have a choice in our lives, and we have the power to adapt and assess what minor or major adjustments we can make to still benefit from the experience. But often, we slip into a funk instead of investigating what is possible. We complain about what is missing in our lives instead of discovering what is available to assist us in living as fully as possible.
Where has change challenged you? Hearing loss? Joint or back pain? Illness? Or a change in situation or relationship? A loss of a loved one, a home, a job?
How have you met these changes?
Here is a guided meditation you can do, preferably after meditating or taking a solo meander in nature:
Change is a constant; learning to dance with those changes is a joyous way to live. But, of course, if the change happens suddenly, we will probably need time to nurture ourselves and allow for grieving. So we rest and honor that. But at some point, when we recognize that we are still alive and have options, choices, and the power to greet life, we come out of our cocoon and meet the moment as it is.
When we understand the nature of impermanence from our personal experience, instead of seeing changes as holes in some ideal life we imagine we should be living, we can see the wholeness of life in this and every moment.
If we see challenges, we research and find workarounds. If what we have lost makes research difficult, we ask for help from family and friends, and if we feel isolated, we reach out to neighbors, distant relatives, and local services.
For example, if you, like me, have a vision impairment, ask for help finding audio versions or ask someone to read to you. Many free audio resources are available: podcasts, audiobooks through the library, and Dharmaseed for dharma talks from insight meditation teachers on retreats. And, of course, my growing audio page for various dharma talks and meditations.
If your hearing is impaired, along with an overwhelming variety of aids, many of them hopefully coming down in cost, you might challenge yourself to take up a new hobby of learning lip reading.
Whatever the change, notice if you are letting it define you. For example, if you have lost the love of your life, are you redefining yourself as a widow or widower? If your doctor has diagnosed a disease, are you redefining yourself as a patient?
If you are unwilling to adapt to changing circumstances, it might have to do with identity. Who am I without this ability? This person? This place?
Greeting a change as a challenge is a very creative and enlivening way to live.
Making an enemy of it leads to isolation, depression, and unhealthy, dangerous behavior.
It is healthier and more accurate scientifically, to see the self not as a separate solid entity but as life selfing in this fleeting human form, ever-changing, beyond the possibility of definition. If the question ‘Who am I?’ brings up solid answers, that’s a clue to how we may be clinging and causing suffering.
So let’s meet every change by recognizing what is here instead of only focusing on what is absent. Let’s dance with this moment, this situation, this set of circumstances.
All things are impermanent.
They arise, and they pass away.
To live in harmony with this truth
brings great happiness.
– a Pali chant