Allowing Change to Happen

It’s finally fall! Like the leaves changing colors and the animals adapting to the cooler temperatures, fall is a time undeniable change.

And sometimes change is hard.

We often resist it. We make assumptions about what we think we want. We want to avoid change, we want to go back to the way things were before, or we want something to be completely different.

We have an illusion of control.

Yet, so many things happen to us—without our input. There is the story of the man who had his life turned upside down by a heart attack, the woman who lost her spouse to death and had to drop everything, the family who lost their home to a hurricane, the successful employee who was laid off when the economy tanked, the cyclist who was hit by a car, the pedestrian hit in a crosswalk, and so many more examples.

We have very little control over our lives.

Change is a normal part of life. Our job is not to control the change but to adapt and adjust. We are challenged with being mindful and finding joy despite the change.

Mindfulness helps us to stay present and connect with joy.

We can mindfully be aware of our current situation and observe it with a non-judgmental attitude. This shift in our attitude helps us to stop resisting the change in our lives.

So, what exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is
1. Awareness
2. Of present experience
3. With acceptance

Mindfulness involves:
Paying attention
Becoming aware of present moment realities
Not judging whatever is happening as ‘good’ or ‘bad’

“The non-judgemental observation of the ongoing stream of internal and external stimuli as they arise”. Ruth Baer (2003)

“Keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality” (Thich Nath Hanh, 1976)

“Mindfulness is simply the knack of noticing without comment whatever is happening in your present experience” Guy Claxton (1990)

What Mindfulness is About:

Being present to our experience however distressing or upsetting it may be

Bringing us closer to difficulties but without becoming caught up in our reactions to difficulties

Slowly developing is a gentle grip on who we are
Settling in to our current experience in an alert, open-hearted way

You can start practicing Mindfulness today with this Take Ten Breaths Exercise.

Take Ten Breaths
1. Throughout the day, pause for a moment and take ten slow, deep breaths. Focus on breathing out as slowly as possible, until the lungs are completely empty, and breathing in using your diaphragm.
2. Notice the sensations of your lungs emptying and your ribcage falling as you breathe out. Notice the rising and falling of your abdomen.
3. Notice what thoughts are passing through your mind. Notice what feelings are passing through your body.
4. Observe those thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad, and without trying to change them, avoid them, or hold onto them. Simply observe them.
5. Notice what it’s like to observe those thoughts and feelings with an attitude of acceptance.

Change is hard. It takes practice to develop an effective mindful, accepting posture towards what we cannot control.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by changel, it may be helpful to talk to a mental health professional.

Mindful Transitions is a team of Clinical Social Workers that is dedicated to helping older adults and their families. We can help our clients work through difficult changes.  To learn more about our services, please call us at (678) 637-7166.