Change is difficult, but I so need to get on with it. I think about it a lot, almost constantly. I work for change and as an agent of change; I always try to explore better routes to creating it. Also on a more personal level I have to deal with change. Gosh, it is tough.
Change is happening at so many levels, which are all related. Getting it right at one level will not be enough. Calling for change at macro level is easy. When we address it at the micro level, we actually feel so very strongly how challenging change really is. And the two are so connected, intrinsically connected. And hence we need to deal with it at all levels. As Thich Nhat Hahn (Thay) states: “Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.”
Thay has many impressive lessons for us all. This inspiring article about Thay particularly focuses on individual change and limiting climate change, his reflections expressed in it are over-arching and meaningful in a broader sense.
So will I be able to contribute to transformation at a higher level if I cannot deal with it myself? Can I lead change if I am torn about it inside?
If only Thay’s teachings could be put into practice more easily. I try and I realise that I fail regularly. My anger starts to stir, my passionate self wants to express herself and I don’t manage to get to the place where I want us to be. There are times that I can do it, but I know I need to improve.
At the same time, I wonder, don’t we need some of that ‘basic’ human behaviour to make the change route more doable? I have the appreciation – and thirst – for applying the Buddhist learning and for mindfulness. Yet I wonder how realistic this route will be for most of us? Are we not primed to express all elements of our human behaviour, including our more primary behaviour, such as shouting at my husband when I feel like it? Is that necessarily wrong?
The change curve by Elisabeth Kubler Ross tells us that we go through stages when dealing with change. And though she initially intended to deal with the stages of grief, her teaching is more widely applied. I find that in her model our primary behaviour gets a place: it makes me a little gentler on myself when experiencing some ‘basic behaviour’.
What’s more, I have always thought that expressing our emotions is a good thing. Yet, I tried not to show my emotions too publicly. In working with a shaman recently, it was highlighted that we should not need to suppress our inner emotions. Emotions are viewed differently in different cultures. For example, crying is viewed as a sign of strength in the shamanic tradition, whereas in the Western world it is seen as a sign of weakness. I believe that in our journey of change, we should not be afraid to cry a lot to get to a better place.