Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
INSIGHTS: The Difference Between Change and Transition with Jennifer Ward
Category:
Spirit

There are people who can switch gears at the drop of a hat, while others are slower to shift. Yet, one thing that can benefit all of us is learning and understanding how to change and be well as it happens.

“A strong sense of well-being is to be clear about your values,” said Jennifer Ward, founder of skillfulchange.org and veteran teacher of skills needed to face and deal with change. “When we know what’s most important, we’re more likely to stay balanced in the face of the inevitable doubts, fears, and uncertainty that arise during the process of change.”

Ward says our greatest enemy in managing change is: reactivity. “When we react to unpleasant situations — unexpected challenges, things not working out the way we thought they would, being uncomfortable with the new — we tend to make up stories of doom and gloom.”

The result is inner chaos, impulsive (and sometimes regretful) decisions, and possibly a very undesirable outcome. To help us do the work to steer away from chaos, Ward has an upcoming workshop, co-led by Phillip Moffat:  Changes & Transitions in Your 40s & 50s

Here, Ward shares the difference between transition and change, plus the specific way she navigated her most difficult transitions. 


Christine Chen: What is the difference between change and transition (or is there a difference)? 

Jennifer Ward: I love this question! This is a core teaching in our workshop. “Change” is the event, a moment in time — you move into a new home, you leave a job, you become a parent. “Transition” is the process that unfolds before, during, and after the change event. Transition affects us on physical, emotional, and psychological levels and in this process, we are transformed. In our work, we believe that bringing mindful attention to the transition process makes it more likely that you will be satisfied with the change you undertake.

CC: What are the specific changes in the age ranges of 40s and 50s… is this mid-life?  

JW: In our work, we talk about stages of adult development and while each person has a unique path through life, we all go through age-based stages that have identifiable tasks, challenges, and opportunities for growth and empowerment. In the 40s and 50s (and through the 60s), we are in mid-life. 

We [can] look at specific age spans within mid-life and get specific about what tasks we are meant to accomplish, what we can gain, and what is potentially a challenge. An example of a task in the early 40s is to sort out values and priorities. By doing so, you gain the empowerment of seeing the specific opportunities that are available to you at this age that will eventually “time out.” 

CC: What is the key to managing change, in general? Give me three words.  

JW:  1. Values — Staying connected to what’s important. 2. Agency — Recognizing the ways in which we can influence ourselves, others, and our situation; even if we can’t change our outer circumstances, we can change how we are relating to our situation. 3. Normalizing — Change is often hard and takes longer than we expect and that’s normal.

CC: How do we take these keys and change the way we adapt to change and transition? 

JW: Practice, practice, practice! It’s normal that we get disoriented or lose connection with our values or act or speak in a way we’re not proud of. In those moments, we pause and then start over.

CC: What has been the hardest “change” you’ve ever faced, and what skill or practice helped you most?     

JW: Like so many people, I’ve been through lots of challenging changes: divorce, the premature death of a sister in mid-life, and parenting teenagers through crises, just to name a few. I would say the practice that helped me the most through those difficult times of change was to nurture my connection to my values of love, compassion, and equanimity. It’s not that the connection to these values was constant but knowing that every time I remembered and reconnected to them, I would experience a sense of grounding and getting oriented.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Jennifer Ward’s workshop is July 15–17, 2022: Changes & Transitions in Your 40s & 50s: Finding Clarity and Well Being in Times of Change. The program is sold out, but you can join the wait list.

Learn More

About

Christine Chen

Christine Chen is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, best-selling author, California native, and senior teacher of yoga and Ayurveda.

INSIGHTS: The Difference Between Change and Transition with Jennifer Ward

About

Christine Chen

Christine Chen is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, best-selling author, California native, and senior teacher of yoga and Ayurveda.

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Spirit

There are people who can switch gears at the drop of a hat, while others are slower to shift. Yet, one thing that can benefit all of us is learning and understanding how to change and be well as it happens.

“A strong sense of well-being is to be clear about your values,” said Jennifer Ward, founder of skillfulchange.org and veteran teacher of skills needed to face and deal with change. “When we know what’s most important, we’re more likely to stay balanced in the face of the inevitable doubts, fears, and uncertainty that arise during the process of change.”

Ward says our greatest enemy in managing change is: reactivity. “When we react to unpleasant situations — unexpected challenges, things not working out the way we thought they would, being uncomfortable with the new — we tend to make up stories of doom and gloom.”

The result is inner chaos, impulsive (and sometimes regretful) decisions, and possibly a very undesirable outcome. To help us do the work to steer away from chaos, Ward has an upcoming workshop, co-led by Phillip Moffat:  Changes & Transitions in Your 40s & 50s

Here, Ward shares the difference between transition and change, plus the specific way she navigated her most difficult transitions. 


Christine Chen: What is the difference between change and transition (or is there a difference)? 

Jennifer Ward: I love this question! This is a core teaching in our workshop. “Change” is the event, a moment in time — you move into a new home, you leave a job, you become a parent. “Transition” is the process that unfolds before, during, and after the change event. Transition affects us on physical, emotional, and psychological levels and in this process, we are transformed. In our work, we believe that bringing mindful attention to the transition process makes it more likely that you will be satisfied with the change you undertake.

CC: What are the specific changes in the age ranges of 40s and 50s… is this mid-life?  

JW: In our work, we talk about stages of adult development and while each person has a unique path through life, we all go through age-based stages that have identifiable tasks, challenges, and opportunities for growth and empowerment. In the 40s and 50s (and through the 60s), we are in mid-life. 

We [can] look at specific age spans within mid-life and get specific about what tasks we are meant to accomplish, what we can gain, and what is potentially a challenge. An example of a task in the early 40s is to sort out values and priorities. By doing so, you gain the empowerment of seeing the specific opportunities that are available to you at this age that will eventually “time out.” 

CC: What is the key to managing change, in general? Give me three words.  

JW:  1. Values — Staying connected to what’s important. 2. Agency — Recognizing the ways in which we can influence ourselves, others, and our situation; even if we can’t change our outer circumstances, we can change how we are relating to our situation. 3. Normalizing — Change is often hard and takes longer than we expect and that’s normal.

CC: How do we take these keys and change the way we adapt to change and transition? 

JW: Practice, practice, practice! It’s normal that we get disoriented or lose connection with our values or act or speak in a way we’re not proud of. In those moments, we pause and then start over.

CC: What has been the hardest “change” you’ve ever faced, and what skill or practice helped you most?     

JW: Like so many people, I’ve been through lots of challenging changes: divorce, the premature death of a sister in mid-life, and parenting teenagers through crises, just to name a few. I would say the practice that helped me the most through those difficult times of change was to nurture my connection to my values of love, compassion, and equanimity. It’s not that the connection to these values was constant but knowing that every time I remembered and reconnected to them, I would experience a sense of grounding and getting oriented.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Jennifer Ward’s workshop is July 15–17, 2022: Changes & Transitions in Your 40s & 50s: Finding Clarity and Well Being in Times of Change. The program is sold out, but you can join the wait list.

Learn More

About

Christine Chen

Christine Chen is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, best-selling author, California native, and senior teacher of yoga and Ayurveda.

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