Change happens all around us. But when we resist change or don’t actively work to change our circumstances or perceptions, we risk feeling dull, apathetic, or dead. The late, great Rabbi Alan Lew in his book “This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation” wrote: “But what would happen if every time we did something we completely disapproved of, we opened our heart to heaven? What would happen if every time we felt an impulse we didn’t like, we acknowledged its Divine origin? This may be the only change we really need to undertake.” He goes on to say “The real change is in the way we perceive the world.”
Wise teachers and leaders know that change has got to be more than just for show. Change is an inside and outside job. So how does meditation help us make change that lasts? There are more theories than answers. Meditation allows us to access “beginner’s mind,” to see the world with fresh eyes, and to feel that “inner squirm,” as in “you know, I really have to stop eating like this.” When we listen inside, our own conscience, our wisest self shouts loudly, even if only in a whisper.
Sometimes we feel so uncomfortable sitting there, we just have to change something. We vow to do so to silence that prodding voice. Try this:
1. Breathe in and out, using any breathing technique you like.
2. Become still and silent as possible.
3. From the silence, ask: “What wants to change?” Wait for an answer–it can be verbal or non-verbal, a subtle image, sensation, or stirring.
4. Ask “How will my life be different if I make this change?” Feel it.
5. Contemplate how you will start. Are you a simple steps person, or do you prefer leaping over cliffs? Create a suitable plan of action. For instance, a radical diet may be too much, but you could give up eating bread for a week.
6. Build in pleasant rewards and positive reinforcement.
7. A little bit of change can go a long way. It doesn’t have to be hard or subject to the “I tried, I failed” syndrome. The change was your idea and subject to your approval. As you like, get support along the way to make real change work for you.