Embracing and Transforming the Fear of Change

When you think of change, what images and feelings come to mind?  Do you think of bare branches of the plum tree in winter bursting into pink blossom at the first warmth of spring? Do you remember the feeling of pure excitement running through your whole body the day you moved on campus and began a new life as a university student-- or traveled overseas for the first time-- or when you got your first acting break replacing the star performer in a major play?

Or does the word “change” bring back the sweaty palms and pounding heart of your first deep-sea dive-- or your first day at a new school in a new town as a child-- or when you knew deep inside that you were no longer satisfied with a way of working you’d done mostof your adult life?

As Mark Gerzon, author, Coming into Our Own, says, “If it feels safe, it’s probably not the right path, but if it scares you, it probably is.”  Fear that the thought of change evokes in you isn’t a reason in itself to turn back from a change that calls you.  Fear is just as often sitting right by the door you need to enter (possibly disguised as a snarling demon!) to bring new energy and satisfaction into your life at this particular time.

Are you afraid of the crack in the shell of your life?  Or are you eagerly peering through this new opening to a life with more expansive and fulfilling possibilities?

Whatever your perspective on change, one sure thing is that it will keep happening and keep knocking at your door.  The question is, will you embrace it and see what it offers?  Or will you turn away, vulnerable and fearful, from from this calling, trying to keep yourself small and untouched?

Here’s a body-mind awareness exercise that can help you ground yourself and clear your mind when you are going through or contemplating change:

  • Sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes, and take several deep, full breaths in and out.  Visualize a change that’s happening or that you’d like to have happen in your work or any other part of your life.
  • Notice what happens to your breathing, whether it gets faster or almost shuts down as you take in the implications of making a really powerful change.  
  • Notice where there’s tension or opening in your belly, your chest, your throat, your neck, or behind your eyes.   
  • What are the messages from your body that feel connected to what is changing in your life?  What is the level of energy you’re feeling now?
  • What is the first step you plan to take towards meeting or making the new change in your life?  What is the support you need?

The urge towards change, which is natural and inevitable, can be surfed like a wave in a new way, to a new destination.  Change can also be mindfully observed and simply allowed to happen, as when turning leaves feel their hold on the tree loosen before floating down to their next incarnation on the earth.

Remember that embracing the process of change, including any fears that arise, can be the key first step in creating a happier, more rewarding way of working, living, and being.