Inspired Shift: Embrace change
As Winter starts to shift toward Spring, I find my sense of energy increasing and my enthusiasm for shift waking up! It’s been a long, hard few years and I’ve been hanging on to a sense of “normal” with a death grip. Truth be told, I’m not even sure what normal should look like! But my grip is loosening and I’m ready for SHIFT.
Maybe you’ve heard me talk about SHIFT a lot lately. I’m kind of experiencing my own shift. Can I share more about this with you?
Times are a Changing?
For as long as humans have been alive, we’ve wrestled with change and understanding the importance of change. I learned some of these adages about change through the natural and logical consequence of my actions. Maybe you’ve heard the one, “Life is a bitch and then you die.” (Shared with me from my dad via my brothers). Others I learned through study and reading, which was cleaner and safer, but less potent of a teacher. There are more adages on the importance and power of change than I can count. Some of my favorite quips are as old as time and others as recent as this morning. They include:
- Nothing lasts, save eternal change. Heraclitus
- The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates
- You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi
- God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr
- If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou
- Change doesn’t happen overnight. My dad.
- What am I waiting for? Me, this morning.
Arranged in chronological order, even these quips help us see the challenge of change is an old one. Ultimately these life lessons are perhaps an effort to capture wisdom in simple, relatable truths.
Power of Change
Change can be described as 5 progressive stages from pre-contemplation to contemplation, preparation, action and finally maintenance. I’m not sure that I agree that change concludes in maintenance. In fact, I think maintenance is probably more accurately just the next pre-contemplative stage.
Change is a constant that often overstays it’s welcome and threatens our sense of peace and ease. And yet change can also open the door to new information, opportunity and wisdom. Change is the continuous process for becoming, for blooming, for growing and for transforming. Change can happen in all sorts of ways and is not inherently good or bad. Change just is.
Confucius explained that we can come to wisdom in three ways. “First by reflection, which is noblest. Second, by imitation, which is easiest. And third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Regardless of the age of origin, all of these adages are attempts to make sense of the world so we can keep on keepin’ on. They may not teach us HOW to live, but they attempt to encourage us to keep trying.
So why am I advocating for getting good at Shift as a way of enhancing ease and accessing happiness and joy? We can exhaust ourselves in the fight to resist change or we can learn to live with it. We can either resist the inevitable or figure out a way to ride the waves.
What does Shift mean?
- Verb: to move or cause to move from one place to another, especially over a small distance; to change gear in a vehicle; to (cause something or someone to) move or change from one position or direction to another, especially slightly; to put (something) aside and replace it by another or others; change or exchange.
- Noun: a slight change in position, direction, or tendency; one of two or more recurring periods in which different groups of workers do the same jobs in relay.
Change. Yes, in a nut-shell, shift is just another word for change. And yet, there is an important distinction. Notice how your body responds to the word change. You probably have a somatic (in your body) response to even the idea of change. Maybe you even respond defensively or feel an increase in attention and readiness. Shift is an invitation to redefine our relationship with change, and in doing so our relationship with how we do life as a whole. Shift is a way of embracing the power of choice in the never-ending process of change that is life.
Being open to shift is more than just understanding the definition. Being open to shift is NOT about being in control of what’s changing, but rather being in awareness. By paying attention and directing our efforts to notice change as well as our preferences and expectations around change, I mindfully choose how to be with it, even if it’s not the change I want. The difference is about agency, or locus of control. I can’t control the world around me. I can (learn to) control the world within me. I can learn to control my attention. Again, I’m not talking 100% control, I’m talking about learning to redirect attention from distractions and old habits that do not serve our best intentions and instead focus on what’s within my control and influence. The power to shift rests in our power to pay attention.
Practice of Paying Attention
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention. It’s a strategy for learning to recognize the difference between agency of control and falling pray to unintended “bad” habits. By cultivating the skills of mind, body and energy control, we expand our awareness and with awareness we can direct effort to our intentions.
Being in control of my mind and my attitude is a practice based on learnable skills. We are all capable of learning to control or regulate our energy and how we apply it in actions, words, and thoughts. Capability, mind you, is not the same as having the skill or even the desire. This requires practice ;p
Inspired Shift is a strategy based on the dharmic concept of Inspired Living rooted in the philosophy of Transparent Alignment. Inspired Shift is a pragmatic plan of action of learnable skills that equip us to redefine our relationship with change and realign the experience of our day-to-day life..
I teach Inspired Shift! because it’s something we can control. If you didn’t already know this about me, I like to be in control. We control shift by learning specific skills that help us attentively respond rather than subconsciously react to change. Specifically, we practice the FOUR skills of shift, (1) compassion, (2) curiosity, (3) creativity, and (4) courage. Strengthening these skills helps manage change with grace and ease. These are the skills I teach in Inspired Shift!
We can get good at doing change. We can get good at being patient in the waiting for change. We can get good at choosing where to focus our efforts and energy. With skillful, diligent practice, we can learn to ride the waves of inevitable change just as surfers learn to ride their boards in unpredictable, uncontrollable ocean waters. With practice and patience, we can learn ways to stay on, recognize when to get off, and where the best waves are breaking. To learn to shift in ease, with confidence and competence to do change differently, we begin by paying attention.
Whether we like it or not, shift happens. In fact, shift is already happening.
- Where do you see Shift happening in your life?
- What’s your receptivity to the change?
Do you like it when it’s what you want, otherwise, you just don’t. Yeah, me too! 😊
It feels different when we think about change regarding those things we prefer and those things we endure. Yoga teaches that we don’t have to like it to embrace it, to accept it, and to learn to be with it. But that’s WAY harder to do than it is to say, right?
That’s why we practice. We practice to prepare for and embrace the shift. The more we practice, the greater our skills and ease in executing these skills. Learning to practice well is a challenging endeavor. This is why we practice together. Together, we increase our consistency and accountability to the practice and increase the joy in the process by simply sharing our journey. In other words, the secret of living well is in skillful, graceful SHIFT within community!
Are you ready to shift? If you’re in the middle of change or ready for some purposeful shift, join me for Inspired Shift! And let’s build a circle of support for your graceful, mindful, powerful SHIFT!