Change.  It’s something that tends to happen to all of us at least a few times in our lives.  Sometimes we choose it.  We may decide to move to a place that makes our heart sing; we may change careers; we may decide to go back to a school.  These are generally regarded as positive changes.

And sometimes change is thrust upon us.  It arrives unbidden – perhaps in the form of an unexpected illness, or a lay-off, or a loved one who leaves us.  Unexpected change is usually much harder to cope with.  But any kind of change can be stressful.

Recently I have been inundated with lots of change.  Some of it I initiated myself.  But some unforeseen circumstances precipitated even more changes until suddenly this weekend it all caught up with me and I found myself overwhelmed.  Suddenly I was faced with too many details, too much responsibility, too much traveling, too many changes all at once and I freaked out a little bit.

How do we cope with change in our lives?   What can we do to make it easier?

Can we learn to allow more flow?  Can we learn to adopt an attitude of non-attachment, as encouraged in Zen Buddhism and other faith traditions?

Certainly when we practice meditation, it can relieve stress and help us to become less attached to outcome.  In addition to the more traditional sitting meditation, sometimes certain activities can produce similar results – running, dancing, gardening, swimming, chanting – all these can help to quiet the mind and bring a sense of peace, and sometimes even joy!

And sometimes, perhaps we “just need to have faith.”  But how does one do that?  Can we manufacture faith when it isn’t there?  Maybe not, but I am beginning to realize it can be cultivated.  We can practice saying words and affirmations which will indicate our willingness to believe that all is in divine order.  As a matter of fact, that’s a great affirmation:  “All is in divine order.”  Another is: “All is well and all shall be well.”   (Christian mystic, Julian of Norwich reported that God told her, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”)  We can also affirm that we believe things are in God’s hands.  We can remind ourselves, perhaps, that the Universe is benevolent.  We can imagine Mother God holding us and keeping us safe through the storms of change.  All these are ways of practicing faith.

One time several years ago, I was facing an enormous amount of change.  I was moving across the country, leaving my entire network of friends and family.  I was packing up, selling, giving away, discarding, and storing everything I owned.  I was driving out west alone, beginning grad school somewhere where I didn’t really know anyone, and on top of that, I had very little money.  I was excited actually, but I was also extremely stressed and perhaps a little petrified.  During this time I received the following dream:

I am in the ocean and I notice a large wave coming toward me.  I prepare for it.  As it approaches, I take in a big gulp of air, ready to be tossed and tumbled about in the surf.  To my great surprise, it doesn’t toss me about.  Instead it lifts me and very gently lays me down upon the shore.

May the waves of change be gentle, and may grace and faith carry you through.

All blessings to you.

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