Monday, April 14, 2008

Finding Peace in the Midst of Change

Both for individuals and for organizations, the skills that we most need to learn in order to survive and thrive are the skills of dealing with change. When we look at the trends underlying the rate of change - trends within society, demographic forces, technological shifts - nothing suggests that this is going to get easier. In fact, as we look forward into the new century, every indication is that the ride will get much wilder. Do you feel that you have the capacity for more change? Can you find peace in the midst of it?

The more variables there are that are changing and interacting, the more turbulent our future, and the less we can predict it. So we have to prepare for it in a different way. Surviving and thriving in a turbulent environment calls for a particular skill set. These skills are more than a certain philosophical bent, or a quirk of personality. They are actual methods, tools, ways of seeing that work in turbulent environments. Some of the less obvious skills needed to facilitate change in our lives are:

Capacity For Paradox: The skill of entertaining two opposing ideas at the same time, as the raftsman maintains his balance in the midst of the rushing river - not because of the river or in spite of the river, but with it. Here as elsewhere, the answer is not in the answer, but in the question. The question here is: "What would happen if I did not try to resolve this, but just let it be a paradox?"

Zanshin: the skill of sustaining relationships. Sustaining relationships strengthens your network before you need it, gives you an "early warning system," and generates ideas you could never have thought up yourself. The question here is, "Who am I talking to these days? Who could I call?"

Anamnesis: The skill of keeping touch with what is deep and constant in the midst of change. This allows you to maintain your balance and keep contact with your true goals. The question, for individuals, families and organizations, is: What are your deepest values? How do those deep values inform the way you react to change?

What do YOU think?


Derek said...

Through zazen (Zen meditation), I have learned to be with my experiences or go with flow, as in your river analogy - I teach my clients the same procedure. I wasn't always able to do this in my pre-Zen days, but lately I really have had this ability tested.

We were about to move house when the deal fell through at the last minute. Within one session of zazen, I had adapted and was "living" back in our present house again. All plans were quickly and easily dropped.

This happened because I focused on my disappointment and through paradoxical intention to hold it in my mind, it all disappeared. Here and now is all there is, and our true values are with our true being-ness. It's shame we keep losing this awareness, but there again, paradoxically, perhaps not :-)

Francis said...

In respect of change, I'd like to add one reflection, another example of holding the paradox, perhaps. We should have a positive, fearless attitude to change, not seeing it as a threat, but as a chance for betterment. Fear of change is often rooted in fear of the unknown, which was originally (even at the animal level) - up to a point - a survival skill. But one of our primate characteristics, which I would see as a prerequisite for human intelligence, is curiosity. Interestingly, the German word for curiosity is "Neugier", literally "greed for the new".
At the same time, we should guard against enthusiasm for change for change's sake alone - one of the most powerful engines of unthinking consumerism and commodity fetishism, the relentless pressure telling us that what was "in" six months ago is now "out", so that it should be replaced as quickly as possible. (Apart from the fact that much of what is here presented as change is really only old wine in new skins.) A simple tool against futile discontent is the question; Is it something I want, or something I need?

Neil said...

I don't hold with much of this rhetoric as you know - even if I find it agreeable. What we need is more control over our own lives in very basic ways. This needs to be local and global at the same time. The issues are about peace and freedom broader and more structural than consciousness as we can currently conceive of it. It's not that I don't agree but feel the words are cheap - not Molly's of course.
I was looking at Newsnight on Chinese projects in Congo and it just makes me think these words aren't enough when we are getting the actions all wrong. Before that I'd watched some dreadful trash on immigration which totally missed the point. I see no viable politics in this stuff, though I could see this in a viable politics.

Ashok said...

Molly, if the cheese is moved, one needs to enter that change and negotiate one's way through it. It is what is demanded from individuals generally.

Even before, one needs to choose change in advance. That is what I recommend to the corporates and individuals.

Trevor said...

There is nothing permanent in this world. Every thing changes except the law of change. Think over it from your own perspective. You have seen all the changes. You have survived all setbacks , all defeats and all sorrows. All have passed away. If there are problems in the present, they too will pass away. Because nothing remains forever. Joy and sorrow are the two faces of the same coin. They both will pass away. Who are you in reality? Know your real face. Your face is not your true face. It will change with the time. However, there is something in you, which will not change. It will remain unchanged. What is that unchangeable ? It is nothing but your true self.

You are just a witness of change. Experience it, understand it.

Everyday for 10-15 minutes sit in silence. Just think over the sentence, " This too will pass." Pondering over your own life will make you realize the true meaning of this sentence. Everything passes yet your real identity remains the same. That real you is your true self. To know that self is true meditation.

Roy said...

It seems that many people who have accepted their privileges as a given because of their social status will need these skills in order to survive.

Changes in status and inability to deal with them are severely damaging to the pampered ego and perhaps the current social and financial turbulence will bring home the realization that material goods don't create true happiness.

No man is an island and it requires an open personality and some understanding of human emotions to chart a safe course. Learn to think on your feet, consider your fellow human beings with compassion, be aware of subtle swings in social structure, read,read,read, keep an open mind, don't be afraid to keep testing your skills.

Francis said...

I think I see what you're getting at, Neil, yet the way Molly presents and handles themes is frequently inspiring and very often helpful. There are different levels here, different models, even different language games. The problem is, in my view, that many see it as an either/or thing. In the organisation and structuring of our world and its myriad societies, most have us have become so factually disempowered that the vast majority of people have given up completely, politically. In recent years we have heard a lot of pious talk from the political and cultural elites here in Germany about political disillusionment "Politikverdrossenheit"). The number of people who don't bother to vote in the western democracies has been growing for the past twenty years or more, because - I think - people have realised that it doesn't matter much, one way or the other. Power is exercised elsewhere - and that DOESN'T change - because too many vested interests are only interested in inhibiting significant change at systemic and organisational levels.

We are all caught up in the unbridled market/capitalist system, on all sorts of levels. The standard of living in the west is, in general, better for millions than it has ever been - but this is, of course, because many of the commodities we can purchase are the products of real exploitation of others. I'm not sure that I really want to know how much slavery for desperately low wages under inhuman conditions (for example) went into the production of many of the components in the computer I'm using to write this, or into the clothes I'm wearing, for that matter. As someone who's earning almost exactly the average wage in Germany, I don't know if I could actually afford to reorganise my whole life on consistent "fair trade" principles. Can those of us who are depending on pension funds for some kind of security in our old age really afford to ask what the capital we're paying in, month for month, is really being used for until the fund crashes because speculation in markets and futures has mysteriously wiped it out)?

And so, like Candide, we retreat into the private. "Il faut cultiver son jardin." Everything else seems too complex, painful and futile. Molly's posts sometimes give me glimpses of visions of what I need to give me strength and inspiration, a place to stand where I might just possibly be able to move the world (to paraphrase Archimedes) - that place being within myself (and the way I relate to others and the world). Of course, on the other hand, such approaches are also open to baleful manipulation, being used to exploit us, or to lull us into continuing lotus-eating inertia.

Anonymous said...

I think that how we contribute to the larger social picture is just as personal as how we manage change individually. Steven Covey talks about a sphere of influence that includes and is surrounded by a sphere of concern. As we focus on our sphere of influence (those concerns that we can influence), it grows, and our sphere of concern (those concerns that we cannot influence) is diminished. As we focus on our sphere of concern that does not include our sphere of influence, or those larger concerns that we can "do" anything about personally, our sphere of influence diminishes, because we waste our time and energy on things that we cannot influence. What we can influence depends on our location in the world, our relationships and our capabilities. These are all so different, even in this group, that we can only discuss it in the abstract. What can we, as a group, directly influence?

Valtermar said...

Hi, Molly! :-)

I would surely like to know your view on what we can directly influence, as a group.

Molly Brogan said...

I'm not sure, but I know that Neil has posed the question before and seemed to be looking for an answer still. We are from different countries all over the globe with different professions in different communities. Our respect for ideas and curiosity for life bring us together here. We are utilizing this cutting edge technology before anyone can conceive of the effects it will have on the individual or society. I know that I am certainly happy to participate and contribute what I can.

Some of you will roll your eyes, but I feel that, energetically, this group fires up happenings on the subtle levels that move us all forward in ways that defy explanation. Since my brief time in the group I have come to understand some of the members characters, lives and processes. There is a long list of skills that allow us to manage change effectively. I cited a few that we seldom consider, yet I thought might be the most effective when faced with the "to do or not to do" dilemma. We all seem to be facing change in our lives. I am curious about how you all manage it.

I find myself more and more, embracing the paradox and allowing what is to be. When thoroughly confused, I reach for the unchangeable truth of Socrates. When my knowing includes the impetus to act, I tap into my support groups. This Minds Eye group is among them, and often reflects to me a much bigger picture. Infinite gratitude all.

I feel the honor of camaraderie and look forward to the possibility of what is to come.

ornamentalmind said...

Each other's thoughts/thinking? If so, that might have great influence, IMV. (in my view)

"...We all seem to be facing change in our lives. I am curious about how you all manage it. "

Well, like you, I have numerous support groups. One major one is a mystical school where I interact with other members on line, off line, in group 'works', and during individual contemplation.

This is one way I have learned to, like you, accept what is, rather than attempting to 'Push the River'.

While I had a small impulse to get into dialectics with you about the unchangeable truth of Soc., I'll let go for now as not of great import.

I also greatly appreciate the rainbow of characters and experience here Molly!

Neil said...

I've been involved in a long running police scandal. I packed the job in 25 years ago, still a young man. Looking at some of the guys who have done 20 years more than me I'm amazed at how much some of them lie. They are clearly wound up in it. I have one guy who has lied about me in very peculiar ways - but the way they generally lie is quite remarkable. It's fascinating professionally to see them all at it. It's a horrible madness that I see a lot across the non-medical public sector. Because I'm inside this particular scandal, I get to see a lot more than I do when I research something, and strangely more than I did when I did undercover work. This particular scandal really does show up just how little work the cops can really do and how up themselves they have become. The chief constable of this lot has just been exposed as a serial shagger and topped himself. The strange thing is that across the border it is all very different. The above lot are Greater Manchester. Lancashire cops are so different. It's as though GMP are diseased. Odd story - but my blood sugars drop to normal levels on the job in Lancs and I feel stressed to bits near these GMP weirdos.

Molly - thanks for the erudition - there's always something in what you put forward, even if I can be a mile off.

Valtermar said...


I think I understand that you value the group, with its diversity of cultural background and professions, and some effect the group has in subtle levels that helps in progressing.

You also perceive that changes need to be managed and skills are needed for this management. In your introductory post to the subject you proposed three skills for coping with change: capacity for paradox; zanshin; and anamnesis, which you think are seldom considered among these needed skills. Your preferred skill is the capacity for paradox, allowing what is to be.

I asked because I care and because I wanted to understand the point of view you were taken while you addressed the issue of what we, as a group can directly influence. Once the point of view was understood, I thought that may be I could contribute with my own views.

I admit to be confused by the answer.

Anyway, since the topic appears to be centered on the word 'change', I thought that it might do to comment on some meanings this word evoke.

Change, taken as meaning a transformation of something into a new thing. So, what was is no more, but was transformed into something different.

Taken in this way, we like to think that changes are a constant in everyone's life.

I think changes occur frequently in everyone's life.

Even so, while we are growing and learning, we form habits. These habits are useful in helping us to cope with everyday life.

So, we accustom ourselves to sleep in the same place, in a certain position comfortable for us; to follow a certain routine every day. We develop a predilection for certain foods and drinks, for certain musics, certain ways of dressing ourselves, certain ways of having fun.

In dealing with gadgets, we become accustomed with certain things in the way they were firstly introduced to us. Take the case of old radios and TV sets, for instance. They had a way of being turned on and off, of changing channels or stations, and so on. New, digital instruments, on the other hand, have new ways of being turned on and off or changing channels or stations.

So, changes in these habits require additional efforts, because they call for a reprogramming of our minds in order to create new habits. It happens when one is led to change from one place to another, or is forced to changed from certain foods to others, or is presented with new gadgets to deal with.

But things we are accustomed with can be represented even further, by ideas we came to accept as being true and we might be very recalcitrant to substitute by new ones.

There is also the case of certain skills one might have developed during a long period in life. Suddenly one might be faced with the reality of some of these skills becoming less necessary, or even not necessary anymore. Then one has to start with a new set of skills in order to survive.

You are right. Coping with change, specially certain changes, is a challenge.

You might not care about changing your tastes where food or music are concerned. Those you like might be well enough for you.

Usually the tendency is to keep habits. A change in habits will occur only when one is forced to change.

One idea that seems to gain force where the idea of personal development is pursued is the idea of the importance of being flexible, meaning, being willing to accept and submit to changes, even to pursue them.

It helps where changes are asked for, or even are crucial to success.

In regard to strategies in dealing with changes, they can be seeing either as an undesirable imposition, or as a challenge worth pursuing and winning.

If one looks at a necessary change as an undesirable imposition, one will tend to consider its fulfillment as a loosing situation and will feel bad about being forced into it.

On the other hand, if one looks at it as a challenge to be won, its fulfillment will bring happiness, because one is usually happy in winning situations. So, one will possibly look forward for the accomplishment of change because it will bring happiness.

Consider the change as giving up an habit one might consider precious, such as smoking, or drinking beer, for instance. If one consider oneself being forced upon it, quiting will not bring happiness but a feeling of defeat, instead. If, on the contrary, quitting is considered a challenge to be won, there can be at least some joy in giving the habit up.

That was about a personal level of changing.

Changes can also be looked at from the perspective of enterprises, as well.

It is said that in centuries past, technology was developed in a very leisurely pace. Some devices were probably used for longer than a century before being substituted for more advanced ones.

But, for some time now, new ideas were introduced that forced incredibly the pace of technological change. New administrative ideas preach that a constant change, a constant development, making things always better, faster, different, is crucial for the survival of the enterprise.

We have been feeling the effect of these new ideas, for many decades now. So long, in fact, considering the span of our lives, that they are not new anymore.

So, environment in these enterprises are full of measures to motivate change. Survival of each enterprise is taken to depend very much on this capacity for continuous change, adapting, improving, making it different, making it better, making it faster, making it more profitable, making it more competitive.

So, the human element, looked at as the professional element, has to be flexible, capable of changing. Arguments like "I always did it this way and it worked fine' are not acceptable. One has to change one's way.

In that one find also big challenges. In that one also needs flexibility. Survival is at stake.

Professions become obsolete or its demand decreases sharply. So, one is faced with the necessity of developing new skill, learning a new profession.

How many are there that would feel joyful with that perspective?

So, the idea that it is important to be flexible, open to changes, even willful for changes, is an idea worth learning and believing. It helps to cope with the needs of these times.

Molly Brogan said...

These are all wonderful examples of change and I thank you all for your thoughts. In contemplation, it is important to understand fully, the nature of change so that in the moment, we can become in alignment with our highest potential. I suppose it is this process in the moment that intrigues me the most. We will never know what we are called into until the moment arises. Only then, will we know what aspects of ourselves must be tapped to allow change that is in accordance with our highest self. I would guess that during different parts of our lives, these aspects mature and change themselves. We probably rely more on some than others at different times in our lives. But every time we move into change, there is a process of reaching within and tapping into faith and agency that allows transformation or at least, transition.

It is said that the twelve apostles represented twelve different aspects of consciousness and each bible story depicts these aspects being called into change. While I have read these speculations, I've not found anyone bold enough to create bible translations based on this theory. I know that Charles Filmore and Neville Goddard got as far as assigning aspects to each apostle, and when compared they are somewhat similar. I always found this notion interesting. I was asked to research this and create a report for a client. Here is a chart of them for anyone interested:

In my lifetime I have been invited to participate in change as broad as state wide welfare reform and as intimate as the final transition from this life of someone dear to me. All are exquisite. It seems to me I have to let them go to quickly, so that I can embrace the next and fully appreciate what life has to offer.

ornamentalmind said...

One ritual that comes to mind that directly addresses change, as I see it, is Tibetan Sand Mandala creation, and destruction.

From: go there to see many examples and learn more

"From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibetan this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means "mandala of colored powders." Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a
period of days or weeks. When finished, to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists, the colored sands are swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream where the waters carry the healing energies throughout the world. ...."

Neil said...

I guess if you keep doing this ritual you don't change much?

ornamentalmind said...

Yes, if one keeps doing a ritual and no one new to the 'lessons' analogized within it, one doesn't change much. Perhaps if one keeps thinking the same is the case? ;-)

Valtermar said...

Considering the internal aspect of changes, that is, the way one perceives, feels and has to react to change, there are those changes that can be easily accepted and there are those others that are very difficult to accept and to deal with.

Fortunate are those that are internally prepared for changes, those that have learned enough so that they have something inside themselves to tap into in order to deal with profound changes in their lives.

Ethan said...

this is it!

this particular discussion & exchanges of opinions is the best i have seen in many of the groups topics so far!

discussion here is passing so fast that i become i am too slow!

time for change ;)