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Change: fear or Excitement?

What's it like when, rather than being afraid of change, we're excited by its possibilities? Consider the discomfort that most of us have been willing to undergo to get away on holiday - if we can remember such things! We probably accepted long, tiring journeys and unexpected hassles and expenses. Unless it's a truly dreadful holiday experience, usually it is all worthwhile for the refreshing change of scene. It's the very fact that things are different that brings us alive; appreciating little things we often wouldn't notice at home: such as walking down a street looking up at the buildings.

But is this - at root - a change of scene, or a change of mind? Is it possible to be in that relaxed, 'open to whatever arises' way of being on your own home turf? Perhaps even in lockdown? For most of us it's probably more difficult in the midst of our normal routines, but neither is it impossible to feel alive, fresh and open to what is new and unknown.

Our survival instincts tell us to stay with what is known; safe and comfortable. This fear-focused version of ourselves is great at doing its job: survival. But aren't we more fully alive and connected when we take at least small steps outside our comfort zone?

There is a recommended practice on the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course known as 'habit-breakers': eat something different for lunch; phone an old friend or family member you haven't spoken to for a while: even just sit in a different chair. Our habits form neural pathways that can be compared with paths, roads and, for the most entrenched habits, motorways. Like roadways, routines are necessary and helpful as we navigate daily life. However if habits are overly rigid, they may contribute to a sense of being stuck and disengaged.

As conditions relating to the pandemic move on, the desire for things to 'go back to how they were before' is natural. Of course we want to be able to meet our friends and family, hug our loved ones and gather socially! But changes in the wider world are inevitable and beyond the control of any of us as individuals. How would it be to go into this next phase of life, starting today, with a sense of openness to new possibilities? The sensations we experience in response to fear or excitement are very similar. It is how we interpret the situation - something that may actually be within our control - that makes the difference.

"A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly." - Desmond Tutu

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