“Kai, I have a question. I’ve been attending and working with personal growth workshops for over twenty years. I’ve shifted my perspective on some things, healed emotional charge on other things, come to acceptance of people and their way of being… (Am still integrating acceptance of self-truth be told), and yet…
Tonight I came home from a workshop and wonder… do we ever really change? Is it a matter of changing, or accepting? I used to think that growth came as a result of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and then catching ourselves as we “almost” slipped into past patterned behaviors and changing it to how we’d like to be… but do we ever really change? If not, what’s the point of workshops? What are your thoughts?”
Do we ever really change? Do our changes come from accepting our reality or our attempt at shifting it? Do personal growth workshops aid in any way to this “change” process and if not should we avoid them all together?
Change is happening all the time. By virtue of you being here, in this body, with this mind and these spiritual faculties, change – happens. Every moment on some level or other, change is happening. Your body is constantly changing, your thoughts, your feelings and sensations. So what we’re asking is not if we ever change, but rather do we ever change into what we wish ourselves to changing into.
In order for us to determine if we have changed or are changing, we have to employ first and foremost the faculty of comparison. Here’s me at stage A and hopefully here I am at stage B. I need to figure out if I like either of these stages and if I don’t, devise a plan of action, as to how do I actually get there. We’ve heard so many times that life is a journey, not a destination. A beautiful yet, romantic idea where we just enjoy the ride. Let things come and go, accept life as it is and be here, in the now. On the other hand: ‘You, are the architect of your life’… meaning it is up to you to design, plan and actualize the life you wish to live.
We’re basically facing two immortal questions. Am I an active participant in the creation of this story or is it predestined and all is happening as it has been preordained. Do I have the free will to make my own choices and design my own destiny or am I being lead through a journey of witnessing life as it unfolds before my eyes.
This and that, neither and both. On one hand you can accept the notion that change as we said is inevitable, yet its pace and rhythm is fully up to you, and on the other the choice to surrender to life as it comes not pulling the grass but just witnessing and allowing it to grow.
We have to understand that these two questions were never meant to be answered. It is definitely not a black or white situation. In a way, your understanding of change should be a constant process of evaluation and with no pun intended – should frequently change.
In my past I was attracted the most, to teachings, workshops and teachers who promised or pointed towards a “perfect state of mind” (or its absence for that matter), basically an idealized state of self I wish to become. I had a very clear checklist, of what behaviors, thoughts and expressions I should have or disown. My teacher at the time was, in a way, a marble statue. A notion of perfection I should strive for. The workshops I went to helped me control my mind, shape my body and regulate my behavior. I learned how to manage my emotions, how to be the “master of my own domain”. Walking that path slowly, but very surely, helped me shift my goal to higher realms of astute perceptions of spiritual trophies.
But, in all honesty, as I was “changing”, something in me died. I no longer enjoyed living my life and was constantly occupied in the comparison between who I was at the moment and who I was striving at becoming – that other me seemed to never arrive.
When I woke up to understand that I haven’t really changed, that who I was avoiding was just hidden, slumbering deep within my controlled inner world, I was awakening to the realization that my “perfect” marble statue teacher was as broken, as fraudulent, as – human – as I was trying to avoid being. I realized that in all of my efforts to be something other than who and what I am, I created nothing more than a sense of belonging, and a set of rules to which I aspire to live by. In other words, an idealized self that I’ll never reach. I also realized that by forcing this state of reality upon myself, all that I was resisting was – persisting, and actually growing stronger and stronger.
By the grace of God, of life, of providence, I chose to walk away from that ideology. From the golden prison of disciplined surrender and change. In a way, a first, it felt as if I am giving up. As if I chose to fail at becoming who I wished to be. What did arise in me is a deep sense of acceptance. Of realizing how far I have left myself behind. How in my efforts towards change, I have forced a flower to grow into a tree. A useful tree that will bear the kind of fruit someone can sell. Forgetting the beauty, the fragrance, the roots of connection my wilted flower self was craving for all those years.
And here… comes my distinction. Change but not for someone or something. Change but not with a goal towards a very distinctive future. Change… as an art. Change because the wind is blowing and the sun is warm. Change with the forces of nature, with and not against. If our changes do not come with harmony, their purpose lacks meaning.
So, how and do workshops actually help us in our artistic adventure towards change. Workshops or playshops are powerful tools as long as they intend to help you bring about more acceptance of your present reality. Bring about more recognition of who you are as you are. Change will happen, but on its own. Almost as a result of you not attempting to change a thing. Teachers are important but as reminders of our humanity. Follow those who ask for forgiveness, who admit to their faults, to living a life filled with ups and downs. Just like me… just like you, teachers, teachings, are valid for having the capacity of change. For being wrong and being right. For making mistakes and accepting, in fullness, their perfectly imperfect selves.
To simply, my own experience led me to this simple conclusion. Change into acceptance. Learn whether it is with workshops, classes or teachers how to see yourself more. Change without judgment – internal or external. Do not compare yourself with yourself or with others. With your acceptance, with seeing who and where you are, your core, your roots will bring about not change but transformation.
If you notice, change almost always, happens in the future. In the one day I will… transformation happens only in the present moment. When you shift your attempts at changing and embrace yourself as you are. That ease, that capacity to rest in reality brings about a transformative power that has always been available to you if you so choose.
And… that being said. Acceptance is to be understood as an active process. It’s not just a passive time-out in waiting for life’s monolog. Transformation is an active dialog between your heart and the heart of existence. Your choice to accept yourself as you are, will propel a winds of change to act upon and around you. You will be given the opportunity to help the transformation of your own life, the life of our planet and the lives of those around you, seeking to be inspired in self love and the action that dialog requires.
You’ll hardly notice your spiritual transformation. It happens as a result of time and rest. You’ll rest into a new you. In the same way that your physical growth happens so gradually, in such harmony and ease. You look back and realize oh, my hair was short, my organs have grown. One day you’ll look back and say: ‘oh, I used to be impatient. I used to be quick to anger’. You chose to water your garden. You decided to go to workshops which teach you more of who you are. Taught and shown you why and what seeds led to the flowering behaviors of today. You offered more care, more water and more sun. By and by your garden has changed. Your flowering self, petal after petal has chosen to blossom.