The Two Sides of Change


The Two Sides of Change

We often forget that all change has two parts. The destruction of the old and the creation of the new. Even if we do something so simple as deciding we want to wear a different shirt today, we have to take off the shirt we have on before we can put on the new one. 

When we talk about change, we often just focus on the bad habit we’re dropping, but we don’t think about what to add back in its place. “No more pizza. Ever.”  But what did I buy to put in the refrigerator to replace that meal?  Is it something healthy? We get all excited about our new yoga membership, but we don’t plan what we’re going to give up or rearrange in our schedule in order to make time for our practice. These two parts of change go hand-in-hand and for change to be successful, they require equal attention.

Here in the west, the word “destruction” has negative connotations. We never want to destroy anything. We just want to go straight to the new; the creativity; the generative; the fun part. In the Vedic tradition, destruction is honored as a sacred process. The Vedic traditions tell us we can’t get to creation without first going through destruction. Destruction is required for transformation. We give destruction lots of names to make it feel a less scary – releasing, letting go, clearing space, being “done” with something. 

Sometimes, if we hold onto things for a little too long, we welcome the destruction. It brings a feeling of relief. It can be downright gleeful. Is anyone really going to miss the brown carpet on the stairs and stage? When we feel this relief around letting something go, it’s a good indicator we held onto that thing too long. We clung to it beyond the “use by” date. That habit, that relationship, that job, that story we tell ourselves was not truly serving us anymore.

This is true for all change, whether it’s changing your shirt or changing the world. If we want to elevate a relationship, we have to talk about the things we are going to stop doing together, and the new things we’re going to begin doing together. If we want to change race or gender relations in this world, the things we stop saying and the statues we remove are as important as the new rules that guide how we treat each other.

When we embrace both parts of change – letting go of the old and bringing in the new – with thoughtfulness and intention, the change is permanent. When we allow, and even embrace the destruction, the creativity flows. Then the change we make truly changes us.

Jai Shiva Shankara. 

The Two Sides of Change

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Center for Yoga,LA Yoga,larchmont
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