What better time to consider how we might express our highest vision for ourselves, than the start of winter, when nature turns inward and becomes reflective and still?
With the early winter waning of the light nature offers us a wonderful opportunity to find our own inner light and let it shine more strongly.
As I’ll discuss below, we really can’t make much progress toward increasing happiness and freedom, unless we’re willing accept our need to change.
Transformation plays a big role in our spiritual life.. The greatest personal rewards we can experience come through personal change. Transformation happens when we touch our Highest Self and realize that we’re part of something vastly larger than ourselves.
Reflecting on how my life has changed over the years, and how I’ve changed as a result I’ve come to understand some basic truths about personal transformation.
1) Transformation is fundamental. Everyone in the world is seeking transformation, whether they know it or not. The wise teachings of the East tell us that, behind the multiplicity of people’s stated motives, what we’re all seeking is ever-increasing happiness, and freedom from suffering. Everyone’s path is unique – we take different routes to transformation. But the goal is always the same. We all crave happiness, and we want to avoid or escape suffering.
2) Transformation is a conscious choice. Change is often difficult. (All right, let’s face it, it’s usually hard!) Nothing changes unless and until we’re ready to leave a lower level of happiness for a higher. And that always requires that we let something go.
During the slack times between major life changes, we find a comfort zone and hunker down with a sigh, pretending that our spiritual search is over. And then, when a new wave of change inevitably comes, we resent it, resist it, and kick and scream. But it’s a mistake not to welcome life’s changes.
The real question is, how can we change inwardly and find greater freedom and joy by adapting gracefully to our life’s challenges?
2) Transformation begins in the mind. When people become aware of their unexplored potential for happiness, it gives them a powerful incentive to start takeking action – to put down the remote control and rise from the comfortable couch of the “same old” status quo.
3) Transformation means that old patterns of thought and behavior must die. The Eastern teachings tell us not to give up a lower level of awareness until we’re ready with full inner knowing to embrace something higher. Once we’re truly eager and ready to embrace change, we’re ready to let go of old, antiquated habits and make space for a new energy and renewal to enter our life.
4) Transformation can be excruciatingly slow! But, hey – isn’t slow progress, progress nonetheless? In fact, nature changes slowly – including human nature. As long as you’re moving forward, you can be sure that you aren’t standing still! At the end of the day, ask yourself, “In my actions and encounters with others, have I moved at least a little way toward the direction I want to go? Have I been kind, compassionate, loving, supportive, and a true friend?”
5) Every rough bump on the path offers an opportunity for transformation. In my practice as a naturopathic physician, I see with particular clarity that every crisis in my patients’ physical or emotional health holds an opportunity for a new and better way of life.
6) Transformation isn’t about changing who we are, but about finding who we are – and discarding who we are not. It means shedding old ways of thinking and acting, especially those that no longer serve our goal of experiencing greater happiness. It also means that no matter who we are, no matter what has happened to us thus far, and no matter what we’ve done, it’s still always possible to begin to attune ourselves to the deepest truth of our being, and become the brilliant, shining, happy souls we really are.
7) Transformation brings healing and wholeness. Health and healing are always waiting, ready to come into our lives, if we will just clear the stage and make room for them.
How can we learn to adapt gracefully to change – to flow harmoniously with the changes that will come into our lives inevitably, like the ocean’s endless waves?
If you recognize that you have trouble adapting to change, let me suggest that you begin with some very simple, easy, fun changes.
Do doing something completely different to break your routine, like taking a different route to work. Or try drawing up a simple plan to break a bad habit by taking one small, realistic step at a time.
Your willingness to change will send a signal to your brain and heart that you’re eager and willing to cooperate with the higher power of your own nature, which wants to help you become an agent for love and joy in the world.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “We never step twice in the same river.” If we accept that change will happen, with or without our participation, we can begin to find our path to greater freedom.
For more on Dr. Marcel’s work click HERE.