We often speak of dealing with changes in life’s circumstances, but we rarely talk about what is truly important—the changes in us. Ah yes, we change. That’s why, “You are not the person I married,” resounds the world over. Recently, I read about a couple married for 50 years wanting a divorce. The reason? He’d been an atheist all his life and had now turned religious. His sudden penchant for rituals and rules in the household imposed on her growing sense of personal freedom. Her sustained resistance impinged on his sense of freedom to pursue his new passion. The fact? Both had changed.
Adapt. Change is required. Without it, there would be no chance of getting singingly well after being ill, no opportunity for diamonds to emerge sparklingly from coal, no prospect for life to explode like a jewel from a seed. Change enables us to be reborn in this life, to reinvent ourselves. It’s just that you cannot approach a changed circumstance or person with your old fixed notions. I cannot fly into the seas as an airplane but I can sail on them as a ship. It’s called adaptability. I can bring all the wisdom of the Masters to the situation and say, “Let’s approach this another way because I know there is another way. Yes, there’s a change here because there had to be a change. So let me figure out: what are the possibilities life offers with this change? What am I to learn from this change?”
Without change, there would be no chance of getting well after being ill, no opportunity for diamonds to emerge sparklingly from coal, no prospect for life to explode like a jewel from a seed.
Be upwardly mobile. To inquire, to probe initiates a mental movement upwards instead of downward, it keeps the mind afloat, keeps it from being clogged with despair and bogged down by self-pity. I light a candle of enquiry when it’s still grey and not yet engulfed in gloom exactly like I switch on the lights when it’s still dusk and not wait for the darkness of the night to descend around me. I owe myself this, we all owe ourselves this psychological illumination. To explore a hitherto unknown path, I need freedom from the shackles of dependence on the old way. I need disciplined self-control which comes through meditation — standing here, I breathe in and out with the universe feeling its vastness in me.
Get fit, not mad! Remember this: depression is anger turned inward, self-pity is masked anger. Anger throws dust in our eyes where we cannot see the great sunrise possibilities. Depression and self-pity immobilise us, freeze us in our own sadness. So we’ve got to move the body. We’ve got to get up, get out and exercise to de-freeze our muscles. Rub our hands briskly. Walk. Swim. Use our stationary bike. Run. Get up, get the adrenaline going. It’s important, it’s imperative. With exercise, our body and mind gets healthier. The rhythm of exercise lends strength to the heart and poetry to the mind:
Live strong, my friend, live strong,
Keep walking, there’s nothing right or wrong.
The road may be rough, the road may be smooth,
Keep your step steady, your mind on the truth.
The sun may beam, the sun may hide,
Be full of faith, high or low the tide.
The rain may hold, the rain may shower,
Keep walking, my friend, for you have the power.
Accept and learn. Say yes to change for you have the power. I say yes to the changes in my beloved. And in saying yes, I transform too. When we say yes, we allow beautiful things to happen, they do happen: Where earlier we saw a part and believed it to be whole, we now see the multi-dimensional, ever-evolving person by our side. We learn with awe that a relationship is as much about the unknown as the known and we relax more with the inevitable flow. For a change is merely a route not taken so far but it’s still the road. We see changes as growth, progress, as evolution rather than feel threatened by them. We learn that the alarm stems from the fact that a large part of the relationship takes place in our heads—we imagine, expect, interpret, speculate. When we stop all that, fear dies and ease slides in like a cool dewdrop.
Quantum shifts. The great spiritualist and psychiatrist Dr Wayne Dyer introduces us to an extensive study conducted in the US that concludes that people undergo evolutionary quantum shifts over time. Apparently, the changes are always for the better and enduring. Morever, it’s got nothing to do with age — it can happen at 9, 21, 43, 69 … it’s each individual’s journey to self-realisation and self-expression of a higher order. The trick is to recognise this internal eureka moment so that when it occurs, you don’t panic but rejoice in your or your partner’s ascension.
The study that involved thousands of people recorded these findings before and after the quantum evolutionary shifts. It’s amazing how priorities change. Men moved from accumulating wealth to spiritual pursuits; from craving adventure to wanting peace; from achievement to family; from satisfying material pleasures to fulfilling simpler needs; from desiring respect to wanting to be honest; from high animal spirits to a humble thoughtfulness.
Women shifted from family welfare to personal growth; from a sense of independence to self-esteem; from pursuing a career to being spiritual; from trying to fit in society to wanting to be happy; from being seen as attractive to being seen as generous; from wanting to be loved to wanting to forgive those who’d made their path rocky.
To explore a hitherto unknown path, we need freedom from the shackles of dependence on the old way.
Relationships are wonderful platforms to practice awareness. You observe your spouse, child, sibling and whoever you live with, keeping your mind quiet, without judgment. You see the person in his or her glorious innocence, a soul doing its best rather than someone who is there to fulfill your agenda. It’s truly a wow moment. A beautiful anecdote goes thus: One evening, two people are sitting on a bench in the park watching their respective children play. “That’s my son,” says the woman pointing to a bundle of energy running around tirelessly. “Strong little fellow,” says the man. “That’s my daughter on the tricycle.” As the clock strikes six, he calls out to his daughter, “Lila, shall we go home now?” Little Lila pleads, “Just five more minutes, Papa?” The man consents. Thirty minutes pass. “Lila?” calls the man. Lila pleads, “Five more minutes, Papa, please?” The man smiles, “Sure.” The woman says, “You are a patient father.” The man smiles faintly and says quietly, “Her brother was killed by a reckless driver last summer while he was riding his tricycle. I spent hardly any time with my son and now I’d give anything for just five more minutes with him. My little Lila thinks she has five more minutes to ride her tricycle. The truth is: I am blessed with five more minutes to watch her play.”
Sometimes, that’s all we may have with one another — five minutes.
Five minutes to accept changes in one another unconditionally and lovingly. For, it’s only in life that we can change; death takes that away from us.
(The writers are authors of the book ‘Fitness for Life’ and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.)