Whatever the change is that we desire, it’s vital to learn that until we can accept where we presently are, real change is not going to take place.
It is obvious when planning a trip that we must start from where we are—not from some other more desirable location. It is the same with creating a change in our lives. We need to know and accept where we are before real change can take place.
So where are we presently? And what is the change we desire?
Are we feeling dissatisfied with our life? Or have we lost a job, our health, or a loved one? Has a dear friend or family member moved away?
Desiring change usually means that something in our life that we valued has disappeared. Perhaps we no longer feel the joy of life the way we used to. Maybe we feel abandoned, or just stuck. In any event we want something new.
In order for these changes to occur we first have to accept where we are right now by facing what is--disagreeable as it may feel to us.
Many years ago Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross brought from Europe five stages of death and dying to the Western world of medicine. These five stages have proved to be the path to real change.
They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
We must take the time and use effort to move through each of these steps to come into acceptance. Acceptance means we have given up wishing things had been different. We are at peace with what has happened, which opens the way for new life!
Acceptance is not resignation, or defeat.
Acceptance of what is is the path to freedom.
When we accept what is, we stop suffering. It helps to know that the root word for “suffer” is allow. What we truly allow in our hearts we no longer resist. There is no longer a battle going on inside. Instead we feel a sense of rightness. Deep inside us we know that it has all needed to be this way so that life could proceed the way it was meant to.
And we can continue our journey unburdened by past sadness and despair. Our load has become light!
But acceptance doesn’t come easily. It requires skillful effort to move through these five stages of death and dying.
We often believe that if we accept something that nothing good will occur, and we will have resigned ourselves to a sad fate without doing anything about it. We may feel ashamed and weak.
From the logical, rational mind this makes perfect sense. But death, dying and new birth don’t take place in the rational, logical mind.
Transitions such as birth and death occur in the mysterious world of Spirit. For a moment consider the seed. We might understand how to nurture a seed after it has been planted, but what makes it grow?
How does the acorn become a giant oak?
As St. Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” Ist Cor. 3:6-8
So it is with transformational change—the increase of happiness and feelings of well-being. New life occurs because of the nature of the universe—universal energy is always flowing. Nothing can stop it.
We can, for a time obstruct its course, or we can align with it. We can accept this divine flow of creative energy. We can learn to let go our resistance to life as it is. We choose how long we suffer before we allow.
The Tao teaches that everything that flows is healthy.
This implies we need to find ways to let go of that to which we have been clinging. This is not easy—just vital.
Desirable change takes a commitment to positive action on our part.
Whether we recognize it or not, our clinging, wanting things to be this way or that way, causes us to push or avoid. This cause suffering. The river has become jammed.
What we cling to is similar to a log blocking the flow and jamming the river.
Acceptance unjams the obstruction so that river flows freely and once again we are on our way.
We are not resigned to an unhappy fate. Instead we feel relief, joy and celebration. We feel at one with the universal flow of invisible energy that is taking us just where our Spirit and soul truly desire to go.
It’s up to us. The flow is taking place within us every moment. We can’t stop it. We can learn to notice what we are hanging onto, and to release our tight grasp.