Nobody really talks about what change is really like.
In the spiritual realm, people talk about awakening consciousness in ways that make it feel like a walk on the beach. It’s all light and butterflies and lavender fields.
All of this is bullshit.
Change is hard. It’s painful.
Here’s a current example from my life.
My body moves dysfuncitonally. I use the wrong muscles for basically every movement. Including breathing. And walking. I’ve been doing this for decades.
I learned — more accurately confirmed — this about two months ago.
Since then, I’ve been working with Carlos Rochas, a physical therapist in La Jolla, to retrain my body — or, more accurately, train it for the first time — how to move functionally.
This includes the basics of how to breathe and how to walk.
I am engaging some of my muscles for the first time.
These movement habits are entrenched. So I’ve brought everything I have to the task.
For the past month, I’ve been working with Carlos daily during the week, sometimes double sessions.
That’s six to eight hours a week of physical therapy.
Outside of our sessions I typically spend 2–3 hours in the gym each morning. Plus a yin yoga class most evenings.
And I’ve supplemented the physical practice with a healthy dose of other healing modalities:
Reiki. Sound baths. Meditation. Flower essence therapy. Cacao ceremonies. Ayruveda. Breathwork.
Plus the inner work: sitting with my emotions, journaling, reflecting.
All. The. Things.
I’m living it. Breathing it. Showing up.
I’m doing the work.
The external and internal.
The Chaos of Change
Some days, I feel a sense of progress.
Other days, I am in the throes of frustration.
Most days I’m in pain in some part of my body as my nervous system tries to make sense of what’s going on.
In some moments I have felt like I want to rip off my limbs, to break out of this body that is confining me and holding me back.
I just want this to be over. I want to feel progress. I want to feel strong and confident in my body’s ability to move with ease and grace, in flow.
The rational part of me knows that this is just part of the process.
In fact, one of the hardest parts of the change process is when you have the awareness to feel yourself doing it wrong but can’t yet engage the muscles to do it correctly.
You want to elevate your consciousness and expand your awareness?
You’ll become especially conscious of where you’re incompetent and of your darker impulses. That’s how it works.
The Pace and Path of Change
I wish these results came more slowly. — Nobody. Ever.
Change is messy and frustrating and at times enraging.
Progress is almost always slower than we would like. Maddeningly slow. Infuriatingly slow. Painfully slow.
Here is what I remind myself of daily:
- This is the part where it feels like I’m regressing. I’m making progress even if I don’t feel it.
- The sensations I feel aren’t necessarily pain; they are signals of something and I don’t know enough to know what they mean because this is all new to me.
- Progress comes in small steps. I’ve moved in certain ways for over four decades. It’s not going to suddenly shift in two months.
- The path of change is messy and often dark. And it’s never done. Moments of light are followed again by moments of darkness.
- Change is a gradual unfolding. It’s a process of peeling back layers.
About the Butterfly
The butterfly is indeed beautiful and peaceful. But the butterfly comes after the process of change.
Change is the butterfly struggling to emerge from the cocoon. It’s about breaking free from what was holding you back, of letting go of the old ways of moving, living, being.
The butterfly doesn’t just “emerge.” It fights its way out. There is struggle and pain. That struggle is how it builds strength in its wings that enable it to fly.
Ignoring or glossing over the pain doesn’t serve our highest good.
The best way through is to hold space for it, with compassion, acknowledging and accepting that change is a slow and often painful process.