Summer – A Season of Change

Posted by on June 14, 2023

The warm weather as of late gives promise that summer is nearly upon us – at last! The school year is coming to a close; the hopes of rest and relaxation are paired with the anticipation of new beginnings in the fall. When the time comes, some of our kids will move from one grade to the next, others will transition to new schools entirely. Still others will enter a new phase of their lives – middle school to high school, or high school to post-secondary, and some will move out of their childhood homes, making the leap from being a teen to an independently-living adult. Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, suggested that the only thing constant in life is change. We view the idea of change in many different ways; that it is hard, that it brings new opportunities, and that it is necessary to move us forward in life. Change helps us learn and grow. There is something engaging about the challenging cycles that we confront during change – persevering from the initial excitement to the feeling of anxiety (or intense fear) – and working through these emotions and emerging a bit different, often stronger. As you move through the end of this school year and into summer and fall, know that we are with you on your journey. Have a read below for a few helpful tips on how you can support yourself and others through change.

1) Identify and lean on your people…

We’ve all had experiences where the support someone has offered you really landed, and other times when it didn’t. Take some time to mindfully reflect upon who in your life you can be most vulnerable with, whose guidance you most trust, and who can help bring calm to your storm.

Consider connecting with those you’ve identified about the upcoming changes you’re facing. Be okay with letting them know what you need. It’s not always easy asking for help. We often want to be strong and go it alone. If you’re finding it difficult to articulate your needs or your emotions, consider journaling as a way to get your thoughts out. These entries can be shared with those you trust and serve as a launching pad for conversation.

2) Consider a plan, or two, or three….

What’s that old saying? The best laid plans often go awry?

Even though we can often see change coming, it’s difficult to plan for everything that might go along with it. With the best of intentions, we lay out as many details as possible and hope that everything goes off without a hitch. In reality, we know that rarely happens. It’s not a bad idea to have an initial plan we feel good about, but talking with others about possible outcomes and alternatives can ease some of the stress around unknowns.

And, even when the best laid plans go astray, remember to practice self-compassion. Lean on the supports in your life to guide you through the process.

3) Sit with it…

So often we want to achieve a sense of control over what is happening in our lives – this makes sense! Human beings will do anything to minimize discomfort. In fact, we are often coached on how to do this from a very young age – “Try to think of something else, do something to distract yourself, focus your attention elsewhere”.

While sometimes these can be helpful strategies for coping, a shift toward a more healing practice might involve turning toward the discomfort, moving mindfully and intentionally through the experience, and tuning into what’s happening for you inside. Notice the feeling, acknowledge it, and give yourself permission to practice stillness and ride the waves of emotion without changing anything in the moment.

4) Be the mountain…

I can’t discuss change without bringing forward one of my favourite mindful meditations for consideration. Jon Kabat-Zinn, considered a founder of western mindfulness practice, offers the analogy of a mountain standing strong against the elements of each season. While the cold, the storms, the heat, the fires, the growth, and the death go on about the mountain, the mountain never changes. The mountain is, in fact, the constant – everlasting and everstrong. [Listen to the full Mountain mindful meditation here]

As you move through the seasons of your life, allow this mindful meditation to remind you of your own ability to remain steady amidst the unpredictable and challenging elements of change. Like the mountain, you can learn to face change with strength and rootedness. Change can become (and always will be) a regular part of life. With practice, we can learn to accept it showing up in our lives with openness and acceptance.

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