Understanding Why We Change: Huffington Post

Understanding Why We Change is a recent Huffington Post article authored by Marilyn Mandala Schlitz and Tina Amorok. The authors reference a decade of research on this subject performed by the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

They state that a change in beliefs, motivation and behaviors boils down to a shift in our worldview. Although the process of change is complex, it is not completely random or unpredictable. The process usually begins before we know it begins. This occurs during a period of “destabilization,” which is a time when our normal ways of coping seem inadequate. We start—consciously or unconsciously—asking questions.

Then, there is the aha! moment, which leads to a new way of seeing the world. This can come about as a result of pain and loss or as a result of moments of inspiration and awe, or a combination both. The process that precedes the aha! moment is largely unconscious. We can’t order up these moments, but we can live our lives so that we are more receptive to these moments.

Live Conscious Retreats are intentionally designed to bring about experiences of “destabilization,” which we refer to as disorientation. Then, later in these retreats, people reorient themselves as a result of their aha! moments which the retreat is designed to stimulate.

In their article, Schlitz and Amorok identify four essential elements that are part of the process of change:

  • Attention toward greater self-awareness
  • Intention toward personal growth and benefit for the community
  • Repetition of new behaviors
  • Guidance from trusted people who are experienced in the practice

We agree that these four elements are essential. They are built into our retreats and are one of the reasons why our retreats are extended over several days. For meaningful change to occur there needs to be enough time for disorientation and reorientation. There needs to be enough time for community to form and enough time to practice new behaviors.

The primary distinction you’ll find in Live Conscious is that we focus on growth instead of change. We do this for a few reasons. First, change does not always lead to growth, but growth always leads to change. Second, when people focus on change they have a tendency to try and discard things—parts of themselves—that they don’t accept or like. We don’t believe this works. We can’t really discard parts of ourselves. Instead, we advocate accepting all aspects of ourselves, understanding the aspects we’re critical of, then learning to integrate them into a healthy narrative. This way, the parts we’re critical of will not go into hiding, waiting to sabotage us later.

The authors close their article with the following, beautiful sentiment:

“From equanimity in the face of life’s challenges to a daily sense of wonder and awe, even the most mundane aspects of life become sacred in their own way. And this way of living makes personal transformation contagious. As people share their experiences and their presence of being with others, a collective transformation that is more than the sum of its parts begins to emerge. Individual transformations combine to create collective transformation, which in turn stimulates more individual transformations, and so on in an ever-widening expansion of our human potential.”

Thank you Marilyn Mandala Schlitz and Tina Amorok.

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