Resiliency tip: Sometimes you have to change it up, and that is ok.
Do you have a practice you love, one that works well for you? It may bring you peace, clarity, or a general sense of well-being. For years I used a wonderful life-giving visualization of a garden. It calmed my racing mind, nurtured my soul and brought deep peace. In this moving image, I walked paths along a lake and dug my toes into the sand on the water’s edge. I had used this image for many years, until one day it froze in place. The trees stopped swaying in the breeze, the water no longer lapped at the shore. It became a picture I could see, but no longer engage. I had walked from a moving picture into a still life. A long standing practice that had been so meaningful had suddenly stopped working.
Some practices come for a season, others stay for a lifetime. When we are accustomed to something that “works,” when a shift occurs, it can feel unsettling. We find practices that sustain us and build our resiliency; we are grateful. When those same practices “stop working,” we panic. We might think there is something wrong with us, when that is not the case at all. Instead, most often this signals a change of season within our deeper self.
What does it mean when our practice is no longer as fruitful as it has been in the past? At times it is an invitation to “power through” the dry-ness in order to break through to a new place. However most often it is an opportunity to explore new practices for the next season in life. Self compassion and grace toward our own self is vital. To withhold self judgment allows us to be open to what is coming. It is an opportunity to be watchful and mindful to see what is emerging in us.
Practices come, some go and others stay. The visualization of the garden offered such peace to my soul, I grieved when it was gone. In hindsight, its absence offered me an opportunity to explore new practices. This was a rich time of expansion. Imagine my surprise when after four years, the garden began to move once again, inviting me into a new encounter. The years the garden remained inaccessible was a time of exploration of practice that may not have been experienced had the garden continue to move.
Like everything in life, the practices that sustain us are to be held lightly, in an open hand. Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom, in speaking of her experiences during WW2 said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly. Otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” I find this to be a helpful reminder to hold my practices loosely, because as I change and grow, so must my practice. It offers an invitation to remain open to the new that is coming, season after season.