Two years ago I started coaching movement. Eight months ago I took my first QiGong lesson. Eight weeks ago, I ironed my first business shirt in 20 years. Four weeks ago I started cooking for the first time in my life. Four weeks ago I started living without sugars or carbs. One week ago, I wrote my first line of HTML code. You could ask yourself what took me so long, but you can’t say I’m not trying.
That got me thinking, why do most people avoid change, especially as they age? Seems like becoming an “adult” is an excuse to stop growing and trying new things. But does that hold any truth? And if so, is it beneficial to us or are we slowly destroying our very humanity?
Humans are multidimensional beings. Complex entities formed of a multitude of layers. While those layers appear disconnected, they aren’t. Each layer “moves”, “grows” and “evolves”, individually, and interdependent as a group.
Especially in Western society, we tend to prime the physical over every other human expression. Sometimes to the point of denying what is transcendental in us. Regardless of the denial it only takes some quietud and observation to know there is something deeper that the mere body we live in.
Life Is Movement
As I often express, life and movement go hand in hand. Whatever doesn’t move dies. At a physical level everything moves. From the smallest to the largest, the confines of the Universe and smallest subatomic particles, constantly move. Movement is constant adaptation to our environment.
Physicist theorise that to achieve absolute zero temperature, they would need to use all the available energy in the Universe to stop the last subatomic particle from vibrating..
That is how much the reality we experience depends on movement. We may as well say that movement and being is one and the same.
“Modernity” And The Quest For Zero Movement
Many times I have written about how destructive is our drive to limit movement. We equate not having to move to comfort and luxury.
We limit movement of people, transit of animals, and goods with imaginary borderlines. We invent new ways of shopping, traveling, meeting people, reduce weight, and “shape bodies” while not moving or moving the least.
We are in a constant search for “comfort”. And by comfort I mean the elimination of physical or mental efforts from our daily life.
Doing the grocery, and buying everything online. We don’t even meet people casually anymore. You can meet, talk, flirt, sex-text, and pretty much make a “relationship” online, without ever leaving your living room.Everything at our fingertips.
With the latest iPhone, we don’t even need to touch the screen much anymore. Face recognition allows you to do all your shopping and banking without typing Usernames and Passwords.
Cool? Maybe, worrisome and pathetic? Completely.
Stillness Through Softness Is Movement Too
Have you ever tried holding a position for a long time? Do you remember that Karate class where they demanded you to stay in the “horse position” for 3 to 5 minutes? Holding a mental or an emotion position is as taxing, and hurts as much.
I remember crashing on the floor in agony after finishing the 5 minutes. I was using muscular effort and rigidity to accomplish the feat. But rigidity and stillness shouldn’t be confused. Both take great efforts, but have very different outcomes.
Rigidity aims to eliminate movement. Shuts down the possibility of change and adaptation. Which makes it fragile.Just like stopping that last subatomic part from vibrating, it drains us of all available energy.
Stillness in the other hand is a relaxed “allowing to be”. It is the acceptance to adapt to minute changes while keeping the main frame quiet and in place. Here the effort is to allow change while integrating it, in whatever form or shape.
Resilience Through Softness: Adaptability
Being resilient and strong therefore is being soft and relaxed, prepared and open for change to happen. With this attitude change becomes the constant that brings centeredness and peace. We integrate change as it happens. We stop trying to control and freeze circumstance we dim favorable and extend them artificially in time, -rigidity -.
Rigidity is the rejection of stimuli, the forcing through sheer force of things to not change.
Stillness, the relaxation, the allowing of small changes to happen, brings integration of the mind and its surroundings. We become centered. Centration happens when changes don’t shine doubt in our being.
If centeredness is achieved we are in a position of growth. We can change, adapt, choose, experiment, learn, grow, reject, etc. Since we know where our center is, and we know that circumstances outside ourselves are ever-changing, and are not a part of ourselves, we are free to take or dispose of opinions.
We stop being defined my transitory ideas, fashions or opinions. Instead of trying to become, we relax and enjoy the pleasure of being.
Changing Is The Name Of The Game
But we don’t like change. Especially city people who are ignorant of nature’s cycles. Change is perceived as a bad thing. We like things to be just as they are, as they ever were, even if they made us feel miserable. The known is preferred over the unknown.
Our minds do all they can to keep us from changing. Since the mind is only a collection of beliefs and memories, change for the mind, is a bit like self-mutilation. You don’t go cutting pieces of yourself for fun, do you?
We fall in love with who we think we are and we look down or hate that which isn’t consistent with our set of beliefs.
This permanent rejection of change brings rigidity, and rigidity stops transformation and evolution. Social and personal evolution.
We stick to our views, We stick to the music we heard when we were in University. We stick to the political party we chose the first time we voted. We stick to the same job, same additions, same toxic friendships and environments. Same everything.
This isn’t a call for superficial change. The fashion or trend where we should look for happiness today. This is a state or allowing internal and external factors to arise and to internalize them, – adaptation -, to evolve and thrive.
This willingness not to change, -to not allow movement -, brings, stagnation, disease, frustration, and death.
Did you know that Kodak, the photographic film company, actually created digital photography? Yet they were so invested in their own rejection of change, that they forsook their own invention and with that their own survival.
Learn To Change, Adapt, Thrive
Now we know how hard and damaging is trying to stop movement. Trying to stay the same through time and circumstances takes a gargantuan amount of energy and effort. Effort that is wasted and pointless.
So this is a simple call to allow movement, evolution, adaptation, transition. No matter your age or condition you should always welcome change.
Change should take place at every stage of our lives, in every layer of our being.
At the physical level you should always challenge yourself in new ways. Same goes on the spiritual, emotional, and mental side of things. As stated above, we have multiple layers, all of them us, all of them ready and in need of change.
To change doesn’t challenge who we are. If when we change we feel we are not being ourselves is time to redefine what being yourself is in the first place.
There is a core, the self, the being, that is never modified, it can’t be changed, it doesn’t age, and is immaculate. Call it soul or whatever you like. No one, nothing, can modify the essence of life you have.
Knowing that, everything else that surrounds you is interchangeable. That flexibility, should bring relaxation at the time of change.
Opportunities to change:
- Adapt to new environment and challenges. Adapting, changing, morphing, makes us resilient. Some bacteria and fungi can adapt to almost any condition in nature. Pandas can only eat a single type of Bamboo. Be like a bacteria! :p
- Self improvement. There is so much to better in one self. From being prone to anger to being indecisive. From having a big belly to never have learnt a second language. Opportunities to grow and change are everywhere. And they are rewarding. You may want to know why it is so important to play to your weaknesses, not your strengths.
- Love yourself. Self-loathing isn’t required to change. Learning to love oneself is also change and it is positive.
- Fun and resilience. Is your favorite place in the world a mountain? Change your next trip to the beach. Do you have two left feet when dancing? Learning Tango may be the coolest thing you could ever learn.
- Too much comfort. If you are too comfortable where you are, start moving. The chances of circumstances changing grow the more stable they are. If they don’t, the chances of you getting bored out of your mind are high. Discomfort equals growth, Growth brings joy and excitement to one’s’ life.
- Hard Mental Positions
- Evolve. Learn to adapt to different stages in life. When I see most of my University fellow students, I see a bunch of people who renounced to live fully. They still are hanging with the same people, changing sex partners among the same group of friends, in the same places, doing the same things. That is 23 years of doing the same damn thing!
- Improve a life situation. If unhappy, change. No matter the risks, just change! Why to stick with a life that isn’t fulfilling enough? Life is a continuous celebration not a tragedy to be extended indefinitely.
Do you think you are always right? That’s a tell tale sign that you aren’t! Challenge your own ideas. Expose yourself to positions that contradict your own. Don’t do it to try and find mistakes in them, try to find your own contradictions and errors. That is where the opportunity to advance your learning and thinking lies.
Aging, – What Would You Prefer, Rigidity or Flexibility?
Have you seen those cool grandmas playing rock music on their guitars? Dancing? Doing Yoga? Being funny and stupid at 80 years old?
That to me is the epitome of evolution, welcomed change, flexibility and relaxation.
I don’t want to be the bitter old man that forced himself never to change, to preserve his set of beliefs intact, to act like a venerable old man, to be respected by all.
I want to play stupid, and be a man of all trades. Why to master a single one when you can try them all? Adapting, adopting, and failing are all signs of successful living. Not the accumulation of physical objects we perceive as valuable. Accumulation is another form of rigidity and it is wasteful energetically at its core.
Have you ever thought how some of the typical conditions of aging people are due to rigidity? Think about arthritis and arteriosclerosis, the “hardening” of joints and arteries.
Is holding rigid beliefs, never changing opinions, grudges and anger, self-imposed codes of conduct hardening your mind, your soul, your spirit, and your heart?