CYCLES OF CHANGE
Everything in existence is cyclical. Some have short cycles and some have long cycles which can go for centuries, some are slow and gradual and some are violent, quick and destructive. The sole purpose for these cycles is for a clean-up, refresh and renew. Nature does it beautifully, every time. Ecosystems contain within themselves the resources to regenerate themselves.
Believe it or not, even rocks have a cycle! Rocks are continually moving and circulating in the mantle just below the crust of the earth. They are sometimes pushed up into the crust due to high temperature and we see them as rocks and boulders.
Once on the surface of the earth, rocks cool down. Over time, they are broken up or worn down by weather, and the fragments are carried back to the ocean by way of wind, rain, and the flow of rivers and streams. All of these small pieces of rock collect as sediment at the bottom of seas and oceans. The sediment slowly solidifies into rock and is sometimes pulled back down in to the mantle at subduction zones and the cycle continues. It is just that, it is not obvious for us and we are unaware of the cyclical nature of everything around us.
Everything in existence is alive because of these cycles. My point is, if rocks can have cycles, then how much more a human being, especially our thought patterns. When something unusual happens where we are directly affected by it, our minds goes through a cycle as well. The difference between what happens to nature and what happens to us is that what happens to us is absolutely within our control and so we determine the efficiency of our cycle. In general, the mind goes through 6 stages in its cycle. How long will these stages last, depend on the state of the mind and the gravity of the incident.
Let’s now analyse the stages the mind would go through whenever a change happens in its environment.
The Resistance Stage
Any man-made change that happens today is done in the name of progress and modernization. Modernization would fundamentally mean an increased reference to comparisons, differentiations and specializations within a society. And, always there is an assumption that modern societies are better off in so many ways. Whenever a new technology comes to town, there is an immediate race to have it otherwise the general feeling is that we will be left behind and pushed aside. Today, the world faces huge changes and transformation in technology, the environment, population and public institutions. If you see it for what it is, they are very closely interrelated. A change in one of it will have an almost immediate effect in another or all the other three and so on. We are now beginning to see these connections manifesting itself in a real way in our everyday lives. It must be said however that these connections goes much deeper than we care to think.
It is easy to fall into the trap of presuming that we are victims of change and that terrible change happens to us and that’s about it. And that now we are just going to have to deal with it in the best way we can. But this is not before we put out a whole lot of resistance towards these changes. The complaining and rantings will rage for days depending on the magnitude of the change. How personally affected are you with this change is a determinant factor. The greater the mismatch between our expectation on how things ought to be and the reality of change, the greater will be the resistance to it. Enormous energy is wasted at this time of resistance, energy that could have been directed toward practical steps to move forward. It becomes even trickier when the resistance is done in the name of individual rights and an assertion of some form of righteousness which will further the existing friction and conflict.
This is a critical time. If one stays in resistance long enough, disease will not be far away. Resistance is at the end of the day, a dis-ease or discomfort of the mind which then gets manifested as deterioration of the body in which it resides. It causes waves of disharmony in the way everything works in our system. For starters, your heart beat picks up speed which sets a whole chain of reactions in the body, causing the body to weaken over time.
There are two types of resistance. One is where a major event happens and there is a sudden burst of resistance to it. The other one is a quiet resistance that has been going on in the head for a long period of time which may be caused by a general dislike towards something that you may have very little control over, for example, the notion that you are a minority in a certain country and that you are treated unfairly. This kind of resistance could have been brewing in you for years. The latter type of resistance is far more harmful than the former, because it goes unnoticed as harmful in the long run. A great deal of awareness is needed to detect it and either stop it or convert the energy into something that serves you better.
Enormous energy is wasted at this time of resistance, energy that could have been directed toward practical steps to move forward
The Confusion Stage
Once we realize that there is absolutely nothing we can do about this change and it’s going to happen anyway, this mind goes into a state of confusion and the asking of some difficult questions. The questions would probably be along the lines of, ‘why is this happening to me?’, ‘Why now?’, ‘What did I do to deserve all this?’, ‘Why is life so unfair, especially to the good ones?’ The general feeling would be one of exhaustion and simply wanting to give up. Unfortunately most people would stay in this state and are at this stage of confusion, pretty much all their lives.
The confusion becomes a state of pseudo certainty - the only constant. There is always a certain degree of comfort when we come across someone else who is also experiencing some form of confusion in their lives. It is almost like it is all normal and nothing is really wrong with me after all, because everyone seem to be in the same boat. So we remain in this state of mind for a long time. But it robs you of great many important stuff of life, such as your precious creativity, your joy, peace and of just being a human being. The energy of resistance and confusion proliferates in the mind, like no other stages. They feed into each other. Imaginations will run wild. Anxiety sets in, accompanied by distrust and fear. In this state of mind, the need for control gets even more intense. And so we try to take charge of matters. And this is born out of that intense fear of everything getting out of control.
It is never a good time to make important decisions when in a state of confusion. Again, there are two types of confusion. One is where you are confused about a certain idea or concept that you are in discussion about and trying to get to some form of clarity and that is alright. But the other confusion is where one has never been clear about a certain matter since young and never really found out the truth about it and carried on with life in that state of ignorance. This is a subtle but dangerous kind of confusion. Most people make life changing decisions when in this latter type of confusion and of course, history will inevitably repeat itself. It’s even more frightening when our leaders of any nation are making these decisions affecting millions of people by a single stroke of a pen, whilst in this state of confusion.
‘Why is this happening to me?’
The Reluctant Acceptance Stage
For some, exhaustion sets in quickly and for some, the fight rages on. Eventually, all will reluctantly accept that change. Not entirely happy with it, but one is left with little choice but to simply accept the way things have turned out or going to be from now on. This will probably happen after you trying every possible thing within your circle of connection and influence and yet things continue to change. Any more resistance and confusion would only bring more misery to the self and that is finally realized now. Natural instincts would say, accept or die. However the mind is still rather unable to accept completely. There is still some fight left. A full acceptance is almost like admitting to defeat as the mind is fascinated by the idea of winning and losing.
A reluctant acceptance is still better than resistance and confusion. There is hope in reluctant acceptance. The person is at least open to listening out. The mind is a little calmer. A little bit of understanding of how things work will go a long way. A calm mind is a mind that is ready for the lesson that the change had brought the first place.
However, one must be careful about reluctance just as they should be about resistance and confusion. This is because ‘reluctance’ is even more subtle and so it can easily be overlooked as normal and it may over time weaken us even more. A greater degree of sensitivity as to the goings on in our minds is needed at these subtler levels.
Natural instincts would say, accept or die.
The Acceptance Stage
Once the mind sees how the lessons fall in place, as things are unfolding, it begins to accept them for what they are. Immediately upon acceptance, there comes upon him an enormous space and peace. Acceptance brings with it a sense of empowerment. There is a feeling that everything will be fine and that everything has been fine all along. You will realize that somehow you needed to go through those earlier difficult stages and that somehow, it has been a worthwhile experience and at the same time, if ever another major change happens again, you are prepared for it. The impulsive reaction reduces. There is now a realization that that too will pass.
Acceptance would now allow the mind to think of ways to adapt to this new state of affairs - How can the present skills be used to this new challenge? There may even be a need to acquire new skills and a new paradigm to be adapted. There will be an eagerness to learn it and apply it and see how it will work out. You will be in a natural state of flow and creative impulses will get triggered, mainly triggered by enthusiasm. You are now beginning to step into that proverbial ‘zone’. It is long overdue, but what matters is you are now here. Everything would seem brighter and happy. You will naturally become more forgiving and giving. The state of acceptance is where you have allowed the event to dissolve into you as part of you. It includes you and you include it. It then naturally dissolves and becomes nothing. It has lost its energy to have any effect on you or over you. Resisting it will give it more energy, because when you pay attention to something, either by being attracted to it or resisting it, you are validating its existence. By the way, it’s no accident that you need to ‘pay attention’, because your attention is your highest form of currency for anything you want.
If a driver on the road cuts you off and if you react with an intense resistance and anger towards him, then you have now given him the power for him to react to you and he most probably will, which will then fuel you up to confront him with more opposing energy to counter it with the hope that it will scare him. His unawareness of reaction will only energize his ego more and he may now resort to violence so as to frighten you off. And this whole thing is never going to end well.
On the other hand if your initial response is one of absolute acceptance of his ‘wild’ behaviour behind the wheels, then everything remains as is. This is because you have not given it any power whatsoever to react, by reacting to it in the first place. In fact, you went so far as even giving him the right of way which would probably make him realize of his own stupidity. This way you would have kept your peace and at the same contributed to some form of transformation in him. You have now quite literally created ‘world peace’, at least in your world. I guess this is what we call ‘empowering’ another by not reacting to their ignorant actions.
The impulsive reaction reduces. There is now a realization that that too will pass.
The Adaptation Stage
An absolute acceptance of the event now would allow you to go into a state of adaptation. Adaptation is another wonderful state to be. It is a state where true learning begins. You are now ready for new knowledge to arise in you. You have opened up your mind for that to surface. You see, this wisdom has always been in you. Your reactive and impulsive behaviour due to years and years of conditioning has closed off your mind so tightly that nothing can shine through it. It’s like layers and layers of soot and dirt that has gone on the room window due to all that pollution on the outside and your room has become dark and dingy. You realize that the sun is still shining, but none of the shine is coming through your window. You then begin to take a cloth to wipe the dirt off, but still nothing happens. The dirt remains. This is because you are wiping the wrong side of the window. You would have to go outside of your house and wipe the dirt from the outside, as the dirt and soot has come from the outside. This dirt and soot are basically all the things that you have been taught about life and about yourself from the time you were a toddler till now, that keeps you bottled up and quite literally in the dark.
Acceptance will move you towards adaptation to the new situation with ease. You will go into it with a new zest for learning and acquiring new knowledge. There is a kind of unexplainable joy that comes from within, almost a childlike enthusiasm and at the same time humility to have received the lessons in the process. This a step further from acceptance. Now you are adapting to the change like it is actually good for you.
Adaptation is another wonderful state to be. It is a state where true learning begins.
The Growth Stage
You are now ready to take advantage of the new situation which ultimately takes you to the stage where you were always meant to be at – growth. At this stage of growth, you would on hindsight realize why it all happened in the first place and more importantly why it affected you the way it did. You would realize that your mind has not understood a few fundamental things that are at work and about the nature of change. Change will never affect everyone the same way. Take for instance the COVID19 pandemic that affected every single person on the face of this earth. It’s the same pandemic for everyone around the world, but as a nation, the Americans will be affected by it completely different from how the Japanese are going to be affected. Thousands of possibilities that are peculiar to each nation will have a significant bearing on the outcome.
The same applies from one individual to another. Some will succumb to the infection quickly and some may not have any symptoms whatsoever, of course taking into consideration the age factor and all. It comes down to the state of mind of and the state of emotion of the individual which then affects the state of one’s physical well-being. It is never the other way around. Modern medicine however still thinks so and people pay good money to perpetuate that whole industry and I dare say, it is getting from bad to worse.
There are people I know of who will stay in resistance over an incident so trivial, that they may have even forgotten what exactly triggered it in the first place, for an extensive period of time and there are some who will quickly convert them to huge opportunities. There are lots of factors that would determine these stages. As long as there is a conditioned mind in all of us, we would have to go through these stages.
It comes down to the state of mind of and the state of emotion of the individual which then affects the state of one’s physical well-being.
It is imperative to understand that when everything around you is undergoing a rapid change and is fluid and you are there like a rock and refuse to budge, you will fight a losing battle, because the rock will be swept away like it never existed, regardless of how big a rock you are. The only way to overcome the changes is to also become fluid and flexible, to a point where you will merge with the change. Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote is , Be the change that you wish to see. It rings true for all ages. You can either be a change victim or a change maker. The choice will always be yours. If you wish for world peace, then experience the peace within you first and walk out into the world with that peace. It really is as simple as that.
Written by Kumar Nagalingam