“Up from the ashes” depicts the magical Phoenix bird that dies and is reborn. The Butterfly as well, changes from its caterpillar form to be fully redesigned and reborn emerging as a beautiful, delicate winged insect.
Being capable of change, the Phoenix and the Butterfly thereby represent the ability in each of us to be capable of metamorphosis.
Any transition serious enough to make us question who we still are will require not just small adjustments in our way of living and thinking but a full-on rising from the ashes.
Change triggers powerful effects on your body and emotions; what we call stress! I don’t know if this change is emotionally stressful for caterpillars or phoenixes, but for humans it can be downright awful!
How do I know? Well, I am going through a change – a transition in my life. I am leaving my 20 year old marriage and and …well…it is definitely an uncharted period for me.
During change, we often feel a loss of control; so here is how to increase your sense of control and steer your life into positive territory.
Dr. Martha Beck on Oprah.com talks about the four different phases of human metamorphosis due a catalyst or change. Here are some practical, ayurveda tips that you can do on a daily basis in each of the 4 phases.
Phase 1: Dissolving
Here Martha Beck says the first phase of change is the scariest, especially because we aren’t taught to expect it. It’s the time when we lose our identity. Most people fight like crazy to keep their identities from dissolving. “This is just a blip,” we tell ourselves when circumstances rock our world. “I’m the same person, and my life will go back to being the way it was.”Sometimes this is true. But in other cases, when real metamorphosis has begun, we run into a welter of “dissolving” experiences. We may feel that everything is falling apart, that we’re losing everyone and everything. Dissolving feels like death, because it is—it’s the demise of the person you’ve been.
What to Do: When we’re dissolving we may get hysterical, fight our feelings, try to recapture our former lives, or jump immediately toward some new status quo (“rebound relationship” is a classic example). All these measures actually slow down Phase One and make it more painful says Martha Beck. The following strategies will work much better:
- Take 10 minutes a day to breathe
Instead of dwelling on hopes and fears about an unknowable future, focus your attention on whatever is happening right now. Take the time to sit with your scary feelings and breathe.
Here’s how: Lay in a comfortable position with one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath and let it go. Take another breath and feel the breath in your belly, take that breath up through the body, up into the ribs, the chest and the throat. Gently release the breath through the throat, chest, ribs and belly again. Do this breathwork for a minimum of 5 minutes. Allow yourself to rest after 5 minutes, just lay and allow your mind to wonder. Just observe any thoughts or fears, do not get involved in the thoughts, just watch them in your mind – much like you would watch a movie.
This 3-part breath calms down the central nervous system, and allows the mind some much needed stillness. This is essential to process the trauma of change. Studies have proven that this kind of meditation can really help with handling trauma.
- Self-Care is essential – build vitality
Wrap yourself in a blanket and just lay on the couch, cry, read, binge watch your favorite netflix. It’s a process and some days you may not make it far and other days – a little further. When we are in this phase, we lose our sense of vitality, and it can feel hard to maintain our normal routines. Our vitality is zapped and even though we may not feel like taking care of ourselves, we need to maintain our vitality. It is our vitality or (ojas) that will prevent depletion during a period of change and its ojas that promotes our immune system.
Here are some ideas to build ojas but one of my best is this nourishing ojas building drink that I recommend you have at night before bed.
Ojas Building Milk
- 1 cup raw organic milk or almond milk
- 10 almonds, soaked overnight, peeled and chopped
- 2 whole dates, chopped
- ¼ tsp powdered ginger
- 1/4 tsp powdered cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp poppy seeds
- Pinch saffron
Place all ingredients, except saffron, in a saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a low boil.
Pour into your favorite mug, add the saffron and enjoy.
3. Don’t stop moving.
Go for a walk. I know you don’t want to go anywhere right now. However, when we don’t move, our lymphatic system becomes stagnant, we feel more sluggish, more depressed and it becomes a vicious cycle. According to Harvard University, movement benefits mental health. I recommend yoga because it is a mind-body exercise that has mental health benefits. So book a class at your favorite yoga studio. Never done yoga before? Then find a restorative class and just show up. Don’t underestimate the benefits of moving that is right for you.
Vatas should walk in the early morning or early afternoon when it is still warm and sunny. Take plenty of water with you – and moisturize your skin well when you get back. You will do better with low impact aerobics, easy bicycling, dancing, yoga or gymnastics. Also try swimming, and tai chi.
Pittas should walk in the evening when it is cool. I highly recommend moon-bathing for them. Walking in the cooling silvery light of the moon is incredibly calming and cooling for Pittas. You will do better with basketball, bicycling, surfing, tennis, swimming, mountain climbing and yoga.
Kaphas need to walk briskly, as they are the dosha most likely to sit and let life pass them by. Grab a buddy or better still, have a buddy pick you up for a walk or you may never get off the couch.
You will do better with aerobics, football, jogging, rowing, running and a vigorous style yoga such as power yoga.
Not sure of your dosha? Take our dosha quiz here
- Let Yourself Grieve
Even if you are leaving an unpleasant situation (a bad marriage, a job you didn’t like), you’ll probably go through the normal human response to any loss: the emotional roller coaster called the grieving process. You’ll cycle through denial, anger, sadness, and acceptance many times. Just experiencing these feelings will help them pass more quickly. If you think this sounds frustratingly passive, you’re right. Dissolving isn’t something you do; it’s something that happens to you. The closest you’ll come to controlling it is relaxing and trusting the process.
Phase 2: Imagining
Martha Beck talks of this phase as a time where the part of you that knows your destiny, the imago in your psyche, will begin giving you instructions about how to reorganize the remnants of your old identity into something altogether different.
The word imago is the root of the word image. You’ll know you’re beginning Phase 2 when your mind’s eye starts seeing images of the life you are about to create. These can’t be forced—like dissolving, they happen to you—and they are never what you expected. You’re becoming a new person, and you’ll develop traits and interests your old self didn’t have. You may feel compelled to change your hairstyle or wardrobe, or redecorate your living space. The old order simply seems wrong, and you’ll begin reordering your outer situation to reflect your inner rebirth.
What to Do: Here are some ways you may want to respond when you begin to start imagining the future:
1 Try Journaling to evoke mindfulness
Journaling is a buzz word for good reason. There’s a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness. Journaling brings you into that state of mindfulness; past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge in the present moment. It calls a wandering mind to attention, from passivity to actively engaging with your thoughts.
Journaling also promotes emotional Intelligence which is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, and that of others. Journaling is an outlet for processing emotions and increases self-awareness which is essential for moving on.
2 Develop your daily routine
As you start trying on different hats to see which ones fit, it’s important to establish a daily routine. Sticking to a normal daily rhythm — being active during the day and sleeping at night — can have more benefits than you might expect. A new study found that routines are linked to improvements in mood and cognitive functioning as well as a decreased likelihood of developing major depression and bipolar disorder.
Strategies for Daily Routines:
- Go to bed at or before 10pm. It is said that the hours of sleep before midnight are the most rejuvenating.
- Go to bed at a regular time each night.
- Avoiding technology at night — turning off your TV, phone or IPad at least an hour before bed has proven to be an important part of good sleep hygiene.
- Expose yourself to sunshine and daylight in the morning and doing activity in the morning or midday so you can actually sleep properly at night.
- Have your biggest meal of the day at lunch – this is when your digestive system is at its strongest and you can digest your food really well.
- Time to cleanse
To go through change, we need to have vitality and the physical and emotional endurance to handle our change. It is now time to help improve in areas we often are typically depleted. An Ayurveda cleanse will improve skin, sleep, digestion, energy, and mental clarity with a reduction in bloating, constipation, headaches, and joint pain. Your mind will be clearer, brain fog will reduce and you will be able to move to the next phase with clarity and a new sense of purpose. This cleanse works because it isn’t one-size-fits-all, but because it is customized based on your metabolic type (dosha).
The cleanse starts with a diagnostic quiz which allows us to determine your metabolic constitution. Once your unique constitution is uncovered, you can pick the cleanse that is tailor-made for your metabolic type (or your dosha, as it’s called in Ayurveda). Click here to start Your Ayurveda Cleanse.
Phase 3: Re-forming
As your dreams become schemes, you’ll begin itching to make them come true says Martha Beck. This signals Phase 3, the implementation stage of the change process. Phase 3 is when you stop fantasizing about selling your art and start submitting work to galleries, or go beyond ogling a friend’s brother to having her set you up on a date. You’ll feel motivated to do real, physical things to build a new life. And then…(drum roll, please)…you’ll fail. Repeatedly.
Re-forming your life, like anything new, complex, and important, inevitably brings up problems you didn’t expect. That’s why, in contrast to the starry eyes that are so useful in Phase 2, Phase 3 demands the ingenuity of Thomas Edison and the tenacity of a pit bull.
What to Do:
1 If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again . It is easy when you fail says Martha Beck to consider this a sign that “it just wasn’t meant to be.” This is a useful philosophy if you want to spend your life never moving forward. To become all that you can be, you must keep working toward your dreams even when your initial efforts are unsuccessful. To avoid the feelings of feeling lost and confused – try balancing your leading dosha. Not sure your dosha? Take our dosha quiz here.
Balancing Your Leading Dosha
5 Tips to balance Vata
- Eat a Vata-balancing diet
- Massage body daily with warm oil (such as sesame)
- Sunbathe if prone to coldness
- Use sweet and warm essential oils, like lavender and cinnamon for aromatherapy
- Follow creative and artistic passions
5 Tips to balance Pitta
- Eat a Pitta-balancing diet
- Avoid artificial stimulants
- Engage in calming activities, like spending time in nature
- Use sweet and cooling essential oils like sandalwood and rose for aromatherapy
- Get in touch with emotions through introspective activities like journaling
5 Tips to balance Kapha
- Avoid daytime naps
- Take dry saunas when available and alternate these with cold showers
- Vary your daily routine
- Make a distinction between being nice and being taken advantage of
- Use warming flower essences like myrrh, eucalyptus, and cedar for aromatherapy
- Be Willing to Start Over
Every time your plans fail, you’ll briefly return to Phase 1, feeling lost and confused. This is an opportunity to release some of the illusions that created hitches in your plan. This is also a time to work on ojas (vitality) too. You can increase ojas in a variety of ways. General guidelines are to love yourself and others, live a healthy lifestyle, and always take time to appreciate the joys in life. Other ways to increase ojas are:
- Laugh and smile a lot
- Take time to relax
- Meditate regularly
- Spend time in nature
- Exercise your creativity
- Offer your gift to others
- Follow your passion
- Engage in physical activity
Keep debugging and reimplementing your new-and-improved plans until they work. If you’ve followed all the steps above, they eventually will.
Phase 4: Flying
Phase 3 is like crawling out of your cocoon and waiting for your crumpled, soggy wings to dry and expand. Phase 4 is the payoff, the time when your new identity is fully formed and able to fly. It’s the phoenix rising from the ashes.
What to Do: The following strategies—which can help you optimize this delightful situation—are about fine-tuning, not drastic transformation.
You’ve just negotiated a scary and dramatic transformation, and you deserve to savor your new identity. Spend time every day focusing on gratitude for your success. A good daily mantra or affirmation for your leading dosha is:
Vata: Stay present and slow down!
Pitta: Chill out and surrender to what I can’t control!
Kapha: Let go of whatever does not serve me and get up and dance
- Make Small Improvements
Find little ways to make your new life a bit less stressful, a bit more pleasurable. Try this recipe for Vitality Building Energy Balls to make a moment just a little more pleasurable.
Vitality Building Energy Balls
- ½ cup raw tahini
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- 1 cup of dates/ raisins/ figs/ dried apricots
- ½ cup of nuts or seeds (peeled almonds, cashews, sunflower, pumpkin, walnut, hazelnut etc).
- To coat the balls- dessicated coconut, sesame seed, ground almonds, raw cocoa powder.
Directions: Put all ingredients in blender and mix on maximum speed until firm enough to handle. Roll mixture into bite sized balls. Then coat in then in dessicated coconut, ground almond, sesame seeds or raw cocoa powder. You can chill for an hour before serving or enjoy straight away.
You can also experiment with adding any ‘superfoods’ such as goji berries, raw cacao nibs, lacuma, favourite nut butters…. Whatever you can think of! If you find dried fruit hard to digest, you can soak it in warm water for a few hours before making these. If you do this, they need to be stored in the fridge, but they won’t last long. Children really love getting their hands sticky whilst making these healthy snacks. Perfect for lunch boxes too.
- Know That Another Change is Just Around the Bend
There’s no way to predict how long you’ll stay in Phase 4; maybe days, maybe decades. Don’t attribute your happiness to your new identity; security lies in knowing how to deal with metamorphosis, whenever it occurs.
Are you going through major changes? I know what goes on in the cocoon of change isn’t always pretty, but the results can be gorgeous. In our programs we help you to Get ready to soar!
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