The turn of the season from Summer to Autumn always feels to me like a time of change. Friends and family are making big changes to their lives, moving jobs, buying houses, getting married, starting families, losing weight, getting fit. These kind of changes are happening in our lives all the time, but for some reason, it seems more obvious and changes feel more dramatic to me at this time of year. It seems that although change is always happening at many different levels, we notice it more at some times than at others. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with saying that 'change is the only constant in life' and this seems to be even more true in the modern age, although some changes are easier to adapt to than others.
Our response to change can be similar to the grieving process that we go through following the death of a loved one, which is one of the most significant changes in our lives that we can experience. My reaction to change often takes me by surprise; even small, positive changes can be unsettling and leave me feeling that life is off kilter.
Being mindful, as we know, is about the awareness that arises when we pay attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non-judgementally (Kabat-Zinn). We can only ever pay attention to one moment at a time and I find that this knowledge can be reassuring when life is in flux and I feel that I am not in control. If I can only experience the present moment, then worrying about change that is yet to come is fruitless as I can never experience what is in the future, only what is here now. If I can fully accept my experience in the moment, the next moment will bring something different - no two moments are ever the same. So in this way, Heraclitus was right, 'change is the only constant.'
Of course, like everyone I am easily distracted from this understanding of the present moment and often get wrapped up in thoughts of past events and future possibilities. This is where I feel the benefit of having a regular mindfulness meditation practice; the daily session serves as a reminder of the fundamental truth - that we can only ever experience the present moment.