Don't Fear Change
I think nearly all of us have had experiences in our lives that had such an impact that they left us forever "changed." Sometimes these are difficult or traumatic experiences that hopefully shape us into stronger people when all is said and done. Other times, we seek out learning and end up having a more powerful experience than anticipated. This has happened to me a few times I can think of: the first time I took a sociology class in college; my nine-week long Bikram yoga teacher training; reading books like The Four Agreements; the first time I traveled to Central America on my own. The most recent life-changing learning experience I had was the Ashtanga Intensive I attended at Miami Life Center in July 2015. I had only been practicing Ashtanga yoga for about a year, and the Intensive was the first time I truly delved deeply into the practice. I felt my perspective on life shifting, and I knew my mind was starting to open to the possibility of significant change that Ashtanga yoga could bring in a way it never had before.
I think that for many people, there’s fear associated with this kind of shift. Not only from the change in identity that can occur, but also from the way it can create a schism between you and the key people in your life. When you go through a deep change, the fear is that you will no longer relate to those you love in the same way.
During my time at Miami Life Center, I definitely had this fear. If I became a different person, would I relate to my husband in the same way? What about my sister? My parents? My best friends? While in the grips of the intensive, I felt miles away from the people in my life, both physically and mentally. I talked to many friends who felt the same way while going through this type of intense yoga immersion; indeed, it appears to be a commonly held concern.
In the end, it turned out my fears were unfounded. Of course, you will have those from whom you grow apart. But where true love and connection exist, any steps you take towards improving yourself will only result in a deepening of your relationship. In my case, the Intensive and my yoga journey in general caused my understanding to grow in ways I couldn’t fully communicate to my loved ones, but it also made me a more compassionate person. I grew more empathetic towards the individual journeys of my loved ones. I saw that they were all doing their best, and that made me love them even more.
None of us have the same exact path, and yoga isn’t the path that everyone wants to take. Furthermore, it is natural that we will not all be at the same point of understanding at the same time. And even if I felt like I had “grown” immensely, it didn’t mean the others in my life were not also expanding just because they were doing it in a different way. Besides, I think life would be very boring if we were always at the same place as our loved ones—we would learn a lot less from one another.
This concept of embracing change is important for loved ones of transforming individuals to understand as well. I can think of a few people I know whose spouses or friends resisted their growth for that same fear of creating distance. Fear is a sinister emotion; it can cause us to act harmfully towards others as we attempt to control their actions. Of course, the irony is that the tighter you clutch onto someone, the more likely it is that you WILL create the distance you fear.
If your loved one is going through a positive transformation, the most useful mindset you can adopt is one of faith. Trust that in the long run, true betterment in your loved one will only improve your relationship as long as you remain supportive.
In other words, don't be like Garth in this clip from Wayne's World... ;P