In the universe, in your own life, only one thing is constant: change. Change is the very essence of life itself. The tides change, the moon changes, the seasons change in cyclic patterns. Day becomes night, and night day again. A seed opens, grows, becomes a plant, then flowers and produces fruit. Like you, to unfold in all its magnificence it must survive. And the only way a living thing can defy that famous law of entropy and survive is by changing.
There are two kinds of change: Simple change, where whatever has changed can always change back again, and transformation, where the change that takes place is one-way and there is no going back. It is through transformation that a seed (or a woman) at a lower level of life order is changed into the same seed or woman at a higher one. By making such transformative changes in our lives, the potentials embodied in our own seedpower are set free to unfold in all their splendor. And it is in learning to work with the transformative energies in our lives that we allow change to empower us.
Working with transformation is seldom easy. The one-way nature of transformational change demands that you pass through a period of confusion where old structures disintegrate in order to make reorganization at a higher order possible. Such change can be very unsettling. This is true not only in human terms, but throughout the universe.
Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine has shown that for any system in the universe to evolve from one level of order to a higher level, it has to pass through a period of chaos. Evidence of this kind of transformational change can be seen all around us - in the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and in the growth of a fertilized egg into a baby. We hear of it in our myths: It is told in the Christian story of crucifixion followed by resurrection, and in the tale of the phoenix who, consumed by flames, rises out of the fire to soar again in greater splendor. We see it in our own bodies when a healing crisis takes place, and wastes we have carried for years rise to the surface, creating temporary symptoms and discomfort - only to be lifted off to make way for healing.
the fires of change
With transformation as leitmotif of all life, you would think we would all know how to cope with it. Yet, getting through periods of disorganization and the dissolving of limitations in our lives in order to grow is the most difficult task any of us ever faces. It asks that a woman commit to the flames anything which, no matter how useful in earlier times, has become outmoded. This means everything that no longer serves her - ideas, habits, old thought patterns, emotions from the past and, most important of all, any of her living patterns which have their roots in fear. Her metamorphosis demands that these things be laid upon an altar and sacrificed so that life can then re-create itself out of the ashes in a higher form.
The word sacrifice means to make sacred. It does not mean, as so often in our culture it is taken to mean, ripping oneself apart, or denying oneself. The idea of sacrificing something which has outstayed its welcome or is no longer useful sounds as though it should be easy - rather like cleaning out a cupboard. But when it is happening it can be terrifying. It can feel as though it is we who are being sacrificed. This is why we fight so hard against change, and find it so terrifying.
The key to riding the waves of transformation, which we as women are being asked to ride throughout our lives, is learning to make such sacrifices willingly - to go with the transformational energies when they come. When you can, then the process of transformation, instead of making you feel like the very flesh of your body is being stripped away, becomes an exciting voyage of discovery - a voyage which, although it has its perils and its pleasures - you know is taking you to a richer land. One thing keeps us from being able to do this: fear.
fear of wholeness
Fear is an essential emotion. It registers any situation in which the integrity of mind/body is threatened. Without it we would not survive. If an elephant stampedes towards you and you don't feel afraid, you might not get out of its way and you'll be trampled to death. This kind of fear is appropriate. You identify yourself as the thing in the way of the elephant and the elephant as a threat to yourself and you take action to avoid disaster. The immune system which protects your body from illness and degeneration works in very much the same way. It recognizes self as opposed to non-self, and makes sure that the integrity of self is not breached by anything that could cause it harm.
But fear has a negative side too. This same tendency to identify self from non-self for the protection of life gets turned inside out and becomes distorted. Then instead of serving the essential, but limited, purpose of preserving life, for which fear is intended, it becomes a fear of life, a fear of change, the kind of fear which makes you hold on desperately to things and people and ideas and images of yourself which your life would be better without. This kind of fear is the biggest toxin that ever needs to be eliminated from your life if you want to let your life unfold in all its richness and meaning.
when fear grows toxic
Toxic fear has many different faces: a fear of illness, of death, of losing a relationship, of injury, even of freedom - the very thing you want most. When toxic fear is present, it pollutes your thoughts and feelings. It can produce depression, anxiety, hate, resentment and hopelessness. It also deadens relationships and makes life seem meaningless.
The reason we try so hard to hang on to everything is that we identify ourselves with these things - ideas, people, images of ourselves, money, a house, a job. If any of these things should be dissolved or threatened or lost in the process of change in which we are involved, we fear that we ourselves will be lost.
Every form of toxic fear is a fear of losing your self. And the irony of it all is that the self which you so greatly fear losing is always some outmoded self - which in the process of transformation needs to be sacrificed to make way for a new, expanded, more creative self to take in its place.
One needs to learn to go with the process of one's own unfolding - the process of becoming who you are. You need to go beyond fear. You need to move into the realm of trust - a trust in your core, in that greater Self - the individual brand of energy from which every aspect of your life is nurtured and regenerated.
at the core of you
This Self which lies at your core is unlimited, all-inclusive and infinitely capable of transformation. Like the leaf painted with one brush stroke by the Zen master - it is a unique microcosmic expression of the universe. So long as your sense of who you are is identified with the smaller self and all its mental and physical baggage, transformation remains an agony. However, when you begin to see that this day-to-day self is only a minute expression of your larger Self from which your core energy comes, and you can begin to identify with that instead, then the whole game changes. Instead of being plagued by fear and the other negative emotions which accompany it (emotions which play a large part in the development of disease, incidentally) you start to act from trust and to experience yourself as an integral and harmonious part of the all that is.
All of this takes patience and time. It also requires a conscious effort to identify and weed out outdated thought and behavior patterns, energetic imbalance or internal pollution in the body and to replace reactions rooted in fear with trust. This in turn calls for an internal revolution in consciousness as well as learning skills in managing change. Your journey will be different from every path that has ever been walked. Each of us has to find her own way. That is the hero's journey in every mythology in the world.