I am now working at the Gestalt Centre, Old Street EC2 on Monday evenings as well as on Friday mornings.  Planning and organising some of the practical matters which this change involved has been, thankfully, quite straightforward.   But it has led me to reflect on other experiences of change, and specifically experiences that have involved physical relocation.   Moving house, changing job, negotiating changes in the workplace, in personal relationships or professional status, or simply the unavoidable fact that human living entails continual change through the passage of time- all forms of change and movement bring opportunities and challenges.

Most experiences of change involve both loss and gain, letting go of something that has passed in order to engage with something new.  So there is often sadness, anxiety, uncertainty as well as pleasure, excitement, and hope.  Even changes which we anticipate being positive- moving in with a new partner, gaining promotion at work- include an element of loss, as we say goodbye to the personal freedom of living alone or the familiarity of our previous work relationships.  So it is often important to allow ourselves to feel sad in the midst of happy events, to notice what we are leaving behind as we move on.  Conversely, even the most difficult changes do offer new possibilities.  Losing a close relationship or being made redundant from our job are undoubtedly painful experiences and need to be grieved.  But as time passes, the space in our lives which these things leave can become available for new experiences, relationships, projects.

Often when we make changes which involve physical relocation, we need also to decide which of our possessions we take with us and which we might discard.  These decisions can feel quite emotional: It might be important to us to hold onto treasured mementoes of past times, or equally, it might be really significant for us to free ourselves of clutter which we no longer need in our lives.  What we take away with us and what we leave behind can tell us a great deal about how we view our lives, how we make space for the past and the future, and how we reconcile ourselves to loss and sadness as well as how we keep hold of our good memories.

Not only what we keep and what we throw away, but also the feelings that accompany those choices and actions are indicators of how we are living our lives.  To keep precious reminders of valuable experiences in a careful and thoughtful way is different from desperately hoarding everything that we’ve ever owned.  To part with sadness, regret or relief from a possession that reminds us of troubles is different from hurling everything in a rubbish skip in a fury of hurt and anger.   Learning to be aware and mindful of our moods, feelings, and choices in the midst of upheaval and transition can help us anchor ourselves in our lives during times of change and uncertainty.