The only constant in life is change. Change can be fun and exciting. But it can also be stressful and overwhelming.
As much as we might try to control the world around us, life happens, and things change. And ultimately, the only thing we can truly control … is how we RESPOND.
Face change head on with mindfulness
Mindfulness helps you to RESPOND rather than REACT to change. It helps you cultivate the space to choose your response, so you can behave in ways you’re proud of (rather than in ways you later regret!).
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
– Victor Frankl (Psychiatrist and holocaust survivor).
Sigh and Smile
One of the simplest things you can do when faced with a challenging change is to SIGH and SMILE! Simply take a big sigh out, and then turn the corners of your mouth into a grin. Your sigh out will naturally be followed a deep inhale which will refresh your system. And your smile will send a message to the brain that things are going well and promote the production of feel good hormones – helping you cope with the challenging situation at hand.
Let it RAIN
R.A.I.N is another simple and easy to remember mindfulness tool you can use if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed by change.
R – Recognise what you’re experiencing
A – Allow the experience to just be;
I – Investigate with compassion;
N – Non-identify with the emotion.
Recognise what you’re experiencing
When faced with change it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand and ignore it, to resist the change and think ‘why me?’, or to get angry. The first step is to give your full attention to what you’re experiencing. To notice how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and how the change is impacting you. You might like to name what you’re feeling as ‘anger’ or ‘sadness’.
Allow the experience to just be
Once you’re aware of how the change affecting you, allow your feelings to be: just as they are. Allow what is happening to happen, and how you’re feeling to be OK. Being present with what ‘is’ rather than what ‘should be’ or ‘could be’.
Need help? Try this Noticing Thoughts Exercise
Investigate with kindness and compassion
Step three is to turn inward and investigate what’s going on inside you. If you’re feeling anxious about the change, how does this feel in your body? Does your chest feel tight, is your breathing shallow? Are your palms sweaty? Approach this investigation with compassion and kindness towards yourself. Remember you’re a human with human feelings and it’s OK to feel the way you’re feeling.
Non-identify with the experience
In the final step of R.A.I.N, you remember that you are not your thoughts, your feelings or your emotions. You are not your mind. And you are not your circumstances. You might be FEELING angry, or worried, or sad as a result of the changing circumstances. But YOU are not anger, worry or sadness. And just like the change you’re currently experiencing, so to your feelings will soon change.
“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
– Pema Chodron
You can take your time to explore the R.A.I.N technique as a daily meditation practice, or you can use it to gain perspective when you’re in the midst of challenging changes (like stressful travel issues!).
This article written by Cheryl Strawbridge and Emily Mason originally featured in Nadia Magazine