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Healthy Minds in Practice: Exploring Change Audio Practice

Photo by marchmeena29 via iStock Photo

Even though everything around us is changing all of the time, it can sometimes be hard to embrace and accept change in our own lives - especially when the change may be unexpected. The first instinct may be to resist that change. Mindfulness and attention are skills that can help you develop the insight to accept change rather than to resist it. Learning to notice how things are changing around you can help you become more aware of change, and can enable you to become more resilient when transitions happen in your life. 

In this practice, you will work on the skill of noticing change. Try this five minute active practice with Cortland Dahl.

Listen to the Practice:


Guided Practice: Exploring Change

Led by Cortland Dahl

We all know things change in life, but at an emotional level, most of us struggle when it actually happens - when our health, relationships or jobs take unexpected turns. The practice we’ll do now focuses on the skill of noticing change. This strengthens focus and mindfulness and also puts us in a better position to deal with change when it happens.

You can keep doing whatever you’re engaged in, just doing it as you normally would. The difference will be what you do with your mind. We’ll use this activity as an opportunity to notice the changes that continually play out in every moment. 

Start by forming a clear intention for your practice. You can say to yourself, “I’ll use these few minutes to notice change, and I’ll bring my mind back to the experience of change if it wanders.” 

Ok. Let’s start the practice of noticing change. Take a moment to take in the world of the senses – what you see, hear and feel. Notice how all these experiences are constantly changing. 

Next, apply this awareness of change to what you’re doing right now. What does this activity feel like right now? Notice how this experience changes every moment. 

Notice how your mind is changing as well. Your attention is shifting and moving all the time - thoughts, judgments and memories passing through the mind. Just notice all this.

Next, step back and consider what’s happening in your life these days. What’s changing, and how? Take a moment to notice the changes underway in your life. It could be your health or something with your job. Anything. The point isn’t to view these changes are good or bad, just to notice that change is part of life. To accept it, rather than resist it. 

Now you can let go of the practice and let your mind rest for a few moments, simply noticing whatever thoughts and feelings are present in your mind and body. 

OK. That’s it for now. This practice strengthens mindfulness and attention, and also helps us to see things more clearly and open up to the changes and transitions that naturally happen in life.

See if you can practice for short moments as you continue your activity. Bring your awareness to the experience of change, even if it’s just for a few moments. Every time you notice change, it will strengthen pathways in the brain that support insight. 

Awareness. Connection. Insight. Purpose. We consider these to be four ingredients of a healthy mind. You can train yourself to improve these skills, just like you can develop any habit. This audio practice is provided by Healthy Minds Innovations (HMI), an external, affiliated nonprofit dedicated to supporting the mission of the Center for Healthy Minds. Learn more about how HMI is bringing our research to life with new and innovative programs.

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