STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF!
There was a great musical in 1978 starring Sammy Davis Jr. called Stop the World, I want to get off! My parents introduced me to it when I was a kid. Then I thought it was a funny and entertaining concept to stop the world and get off, but today I have a totally different perspective of these words now. I would like to get off this world some days, because of the intensity of what our world has become. What can we do with this new perspective? A transformational view or opportunity is to see how to act from this new perspective, and not let it scare us.
THE INNER EXPERIENCE OF TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE IS SCARY
Are you feeling disoriented, lost, unsure of what is going on in your life and your world? This sense of unease can feel like sluggishness, inertia, weird ups and downs of mood. Times like these are perfect opportunities to practice exploring mindfully the inner process of transformation. Why the inner process? This is often where it hits us most – in our day-to-day feelings of inertia or full intensity, clarity or fogginess. Somewhere in this moment to moment experience, we can feel the tugs of big change happening or affecting our bodies and when we can recognize it, we are able to ride the tugs and bigger waves of change rather than be washed out by them. We can bring a new understanding to this sense of unease in our bodies and minds when we can name it and feel it and allow it to be here.
Let me give you an example of how this inner awareness works. When you are feeling fear it often hits us as excitement or energy pouring through our systems, even though our minds are racing with big scary thoughts. If we are tracking our sensations in our bodies and feeling them fully, we are not as easily distracted by the scary thoughts that start racing. If we can recognize the fear as it appears in our bodies, we can name it and observe it instead of reacting to it. That can serve us in many ways because fear always precedes major transformation. So, check-in. Are you feeling fearful right now? When you stay mindful, and in your body’s senses, you can sense the fear and despair and hopelessness that is part of all major change processes.
HOW DOES TRANSFORMATION HAPPEN?
But this? This pandemic and political upheaval and death and activism is flowing us into a wave of change that we can hardly feel because it’s moving so quickly. But for a moment, let’s examine cognitively the concept of transformation. Transformation is “a complete change or identity and direction”. “A new perspective of what was before.” A spiritual transformation according to Raymond Palontzian, a scholar of the psychology of religion and sociology, is “a change in the meaning system that a person holds as a basis for self-definition, life interpretation, goals and purpose.” Are we having a spiritual transformation personally, collectively? How do we take action personally and collectively for our country?
Let’s look at how transformation happens. When we are in a crisis in our lives we often feel it in an existential way. This means it questions our ways of making meaning in our lives; ie, our values and our beliefs about what is important to us. We are all shaken up inside and sometimes we feel broken into many pieces. Midlife challenges and major life changes and transitions often cause these kinds of upheaval. There is often a lot of fear and pain associated with this change process because of our beliefs and attitudes about change. We often resist this inevitable process over and over again which causes more pain and personal suffering.
FACING OUR TRANSFORMATION HEAD-ON: AN ATTITUDE OF RESILIENCE AND WONDER
The actual process of putting ourselves back together is the process of making meaning of what happened. This process is a process of transformation because the person we re-create is a New You. This is what I call Rebirthing yourself – a transformational process of finding what is meaningful to us again and re-building it inside of us, piece by piece. For many of us this involves getting to the deepest parts of ourselves where we feel our uniqueness the most: our passions, our values, our beliefs. Maybe we haven’t had an opportunity to even do this before now. We have to dive down into our hearts deepest corridors and bring up our essence — our goodness and our strengths that have gotten buried in the landslide of life. Sometimes we have to clear out the painful emotional stuff in and around our hearts that is blocking our clarity at the same time. Grieving and transforming go hand in hand.
LEANING INTO OUR INTERCONNECTEDNESS – LIFE’S MEANING IS IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS
We can apply these concepts to our nation and our social and political upheaval and the intensity of emotional expressions coming from this huge change process all around us. It’s helpful to take the fuller perspective and see that this is major transformation happening. We don’t know where our country is going and it will never be the same. This could allow you to grieve, feel anger, despair, hopelessness (all of your feelings) and also to be more hopeful – to change your attitude about how you may want to participate or not in this change process. This awareness could provide a foundation for how we define and create what is coming forth both individually and collectively. We can now see how we are all deeply connected together whether we like it or not. We need to lean into our hearts and our humanity, not push each other away in pain and denial.
In order to see where we are going again, we need to re-create ourselves again, and this can be amazing or challenging, depending on our attitudes. We all know how to deal with change because we all have been through transformation some time in our lives. We just don’t want to remember because it was probably really painful, difficult and we want to push it away. This is my point. You can start now with a resilient and wonder-ful attitude about change and see what happens. Don’t run away from change — try to embrace it.
Look for the positives in how this situation can allow you to grow. We call this a Growth-Attitude.
Keep your Strengths and Goodness in the forefront. This is how you create the NEW YOU.
Allow transformation to deepen and empower you to be all you can be totally!!
Take the plunge…ride the wave with your eyes open.
This is your opportunity if there ever was one.
And when you get your feet squarely grounded again, ask yourself, “How do I want to serve?”