Beginning Again…Mindful Transformation

Transformation: change in form, appearance, nature, or character.
A form resulting from any such change; a metamorphosis.

With the advent of the autumn season, my senses are on full alert. This is my favorite time of year, when the cooler daytime temps move in synchrony with the shortening day light hours. These autumn days are greatly anticipated after the intensity of the summer season in the southwestern desert. And yet there is always a foreshadowing sadness with the arrival of the shortening days; because what comes with all the exterior, seasonal changes, naturally motivates me to move inward ~ physically and emotionally; to curtail outdoor activities in favor of indoor pursuits. This prompting, this inward wrapping around and into, seems to be preparing all creatures, great and small, for the coming season of rest and renewal. The crispness of the air on the wind foretells that wintertide is near.

I well know this pull towards the interior; it comes naturally to me, an introvert by nature; and like all introverts, I flourish in the solitary, inward pursuits of the mind and body. So even though I highly favor this season, with its inward draw, I struggle with this transition more than any other time of year. This is the time of year when the holidays and celebrations typically require an outward extension: into our families…into our communities…into our finances…into excesses of every kind it seems. I think perhaps this is why I often struggle to transition happily into the wintertime, because it so often brings requirements to expand, to get outside of myself.  That is not a comfortable ‘transformation’ for this introvert to make.

The journey of living requires us not just to understand, but to enter. Transformation begins when we stop watching.
The Endless Practice ~ Mark Nepo

But what does comfort have to do with growth and change and transformation? Nothing! Comfort has nothing to do or associate with change! Maybe this is why I feel compelled to write about this time of year so that I may remind myself to stay vigilant…especially in regards to my interior, to stay open and not closed down. I want to remind myself to stay on guard, to be aware of those situations, and those stressors, which may trigger me to excuse myself from the very opportunities which could trigger growth and renewal.

I have a hunch that I am not alone in this end-of-year struggle. It seems that once the days grow cooler and shorter, the desire to huddle and linger indoors is as natural as the changing colors of autumn leaves. And the activities that center and quiet me…the walks and runs out of doors, become more challenging to keep on my calendar. As a personal trainer, I have noticed that many of my clients likewise struggle to keep their health and fitness goals on track during this season. Surely there must be a better way to transition into year’s end, especially if we have positively progressed in the months leading up to this juncture.

“To strengthen what is possible, we can imagine and spend equal time with what might go right as with what might go wrong.” Mark Nepo

But is it possible or even reasonable to actually plan, and act, and expect that this year could end on a positive note rather than on a negative, back sliding one? Or is that just wishful thinking? No, this season can be different; but I recognize that it must begin with an intention; my intention; my over-arching purposeful act to make a change. I will begin again by entering…via this record…my intention to depart from the habitual ‘turning in’ (closing down) and instead use that habit to prompt myself to open outward, to soften. Even as I write these words I can hear that other voice within, full of complaint and denunciation. I have struck a chord, I must be on the right track!

Yes, it is my privilege to choose what I will believe and hold as truth; And I believe that what I think, ultimately propels me in one direction or another. My beliefs have the power to alter (transform) my behaviors and actions. So begin again, I will; it only requires a disposition and a readiness to move, to activate:  body…mind…spirit.

Faith Wears Combat Boots?

What is faith? Dictionary.com defines faith as 1)confidence or trust in a person or thing; 2)belief that is not based on proof; 3)a belief in anything: God, a religious system, a code of ethics, etc. So faith does not require scientific proof to make it true for a believer; either one has faith or belief or confidence or trust or not.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. Thomas Aquinas

How do I get faith? In order to exist or be real for us, faith requires something from us; it is not something that happens to us in passivity; faith does not descend upon us like an ethereal mist; Faith requires action and input from our conscious mind and heart to believe that something is true. We get faith and we empower faith by our continued belief. Faith is very personal; it is a knowing belief which we, the believer, hold and possess as our own. For most of us, we must have some initial life circumstance or experience to help us decide whether or not something is worth believing or trusting. Instincts alone do not help us have faith; we are not born with a slab of faith, but we are born with the capacity to test, choose and adopt beliefs which seem right and trustworthy to us. So to get faith, we practice believing. But wait, PRACTICE implies work! And this is where the combat boots come into focus. If we want evidence that a belief or faith is REAL, then we would expect our faith to work its way out of us…a REAL FAITH has LEGS and FEET and ARMS and SHOULDERS. It must be put to work to be of any real value to us and others.

A body that doesn’t breathe is dead. In the same way faith that does nothing is dead. James 2:26 (from GOD’S WORD Copyright 1995)