16 Mar Transformation
This week we look at a powerful word: Transformation
The word transformation occurs so frequently in books, seminars, and retreat brochures, that I thought it might be useful to look at what the word means in that context. To draw a distinction between that word and change. Because they are sometimes used interchangeably, which can lower the significance of the first word while simultaneously raising the power of the second one. Stick with me on this and you’ll see what I mean.
In all transparency, I must first let you know the following: I get irritated when I hear “transformation” bandied about, especially when I have the sense that the person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. OK. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s lay these two words side by side and do a compare/contrast exercise.
Change: you can change your name, profession, hair color, and so on. And within that word we can see the possibility of changing back. As my client Will put it:
Will: “I’m an ‘acoustic artist.’ It’s been my hobby for eight years. I invite people into my studio at home. I have a lot of very comfortable chairs. I ask everyone to relax, while my friend Trish serves them herbal tea with honey. Then I play Tibetan bowls, a deep-sounding drum, and an even deeper gong. It’s fun. I see I’m making a difference getting these folks to unwind. Some of them have told me that hearing the sounds I make puts them into a deeply relaxed state that sometimes lasts for a whole day!
“But I need a change. I want to do something different. I’m thinking about giving my instruments away. But what if, after I do, I begin to miss that hobby? Well, I’m sure I can change back and start doing it again. I won’t give the stuff away. I’ll store all of my equipment safely in my garage so that it will be there if I want to play with it again. No need to cut all of this out of my life.”
Transformation: In the context of human development, transformation implies going forward into a way of living that would be difficult, if not impossible, to undo. Unlike change, where you have the possibility to return to where you were before, transformation is a natural process we all experience numerous times in our lives…usually more when we’re younger and diminishing as we age.
If you want to see an example of someone experiencing an immediate transformation, go to YouTube and see the looks on people’s faces when they hear for the first time after a cochlear implant. Their facial expressions say it all. They will always remember what sound “sounded like.” Similarly, you can find young children who taste sugar for the first time! It’s amazing. You can tell that they will never “untaste” sugar!
And therein lies the essential difference between change and transformation. In the first instance, there’s the possibility of a return to the former state. In the second, return is rendered impossible. I mean, how can you “forget” what chocolate tastes like? Or how to balance on a bike?
In a classic example of what it’s like to transform, we have the caterpillar that transforms into the butterfly. When the caterpillar’s transformation time has come, it makes a chrysalis. If you were to cut open a chrysalis at just the right time, “caterpillar soup” would ooze out. Finally, this soup turns into the butterfly. At no point in this process is it possible to turn back.
One way to begin a transformational process in your life is to repeat an action over and over again until you can do it without much thought or effort. What you’re doing is building “neural-circuits” in your brain.
For example, you may have read where I suggest that you find three things for which you’re grateful each and every day. And that you find some place to write these down.
No matter what mood you’re in, or how tired you are. You say to yourself: “Nevertheless I’m willing,” and you go ahead and list three things for which you’re grateful. You say “I’m willing to do this” and you do it!
You are shifting your attention or focus away from what doesn’t have any meaning for you toward what does have meaning. And, after a while, you will see that you are creating your own personal transformation, naturally and spontaneously!
Wishing you all my best,
PS: feel free to continue with the gratitude exercise for as long as you like. You’re creating a “savings account” of new ways to see and experience your life!