How To See Clearly During Your Most Challenging Times

Written by Karen Sherwood

We hear it over and over again that the only thing constant is change, so why do we have such a hard time embracing it?

Whether it's a new job, a new city, or even a change in the weather, we resist by attaching ourselves to memories (whether painful or joyous), and miss out on the present moment.

My child is growing up too fast, The people in my new city are so different than my old home. My stamina isn't what it used to be.

We cling to ideas about the way things "should be," but when the day ends, it's out of our control. And it's so exhausting!

The only way we can truly embrace change is to learn to think about it differently.

Here are a few practices that have helped me see things clearer as I faced the most challenging times in my life so far, all involving one common theme: change.

Learn to stay present. 

We talk about being present quite a bit, but it’s a challenge to get there when you’re constantly judging yourself for past decisions, or dreading future ones.

Staying present is the best way to experience life. This way, we can truly be there for our kids, parents, friends, new surroundings, change of seasons, new hair color .... whatever it is!

Discovering new things, new ideas, and possibilities is what helps us grow.

There is a yoga meditation called “resurrection breath” that I adapted from a piece in Yoga International that nails this theme and I love to end my classes with it. It involves drawing an imaginary line down the center of the body, one side representing the past, the other, the future.

Turning the head to each side, and using a steady breath, both sides are acknowledged, and then let go. How the simplest of acts can be so astonishingly effective.

Trust yourself but accept support. 

It used to be that I never wanted to make a decision, not even something as simple as, “should I go for a run or take a spin class?”

When I explored the root cause of this, I realized that, for me, making any kind of decision meant that I alone was responsible for some (often dreadful yet fictitious) outcome.

I stood alone, and that scared me to death. For years, I learned to follow everyone else’s life plan rather than my own because I didn’t trust myself enough to carry out anything.

It was more comfortable to hide behind the person with the bigger personality…the more assertive… the more seemingly confident. In time, I learned to trust my own instincts and began to act on my own behalf.

Trusting myself more has allowed me to accept responsibility for all my mistakes, big and small, and realize that mistakes don’t make someone a bad person, just a wiser person.

Now when those small earthquakes hit, I am grounded with all the ammunition I need. That said, just because I feel stronger does not mean I have to go it alone. Strong people depend on others as they should.

Go and cry on a friend’s shoulder if you need to. Reach out to the people who love you because that’s what they’re there for. You are not a burden, you're someone worthy of love and support, even at your darkest hours.

Practice non-attachment. 

In order to stay present and trust ourselves, we must first practice non-attachment. It’s a fact of life that not everything works out the way we plan it. Manifesting goals is fantastic, but keep in mind, the truths you are living now may not be the same truths you are living in 6 months, and that’s okay! Enter here again, our friend, change.

If I am not attached to a particular outcome, it allows me the freedom to be present, and do what’s right for me at that moment. I can state my needs clearly to the people in my life and not have them muddled by past and future events.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t reflect on memories of the past, or have aspirations for the future, but most people spend their lives “attached” to one of those 2 states, and never allow themselves to experience where they are in the present moment.

Take relationships for instance: Sometimes we become attached to people, not because they’re right for us, but because they represent a time or phase in our lives. When we’re not so “attached” to that phase, we begin to see the deeper truths that dwell under the surface.

Remember you, too, are changing. Is it easier to ride the wave, or run away from it only to turn around and watch it crash in your face?

The power is in every one of us to stand up and ride that wave, it’s just a matter of believing it.

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