It’s been almost a year since the thread of a possible retreat design began forming. Since then, I’ve been leaning into parts only to find myself shutting down and distancing from them when the frustration that things weren’t progressing started to set in.
Essentially, I was getting frustrated with myself for the lack of progress, as I had given myself a personal deadline to create the retreat, and I wasn’t meeting it. I started questioning my abilities and readiness and then shifting into asking myself: “How am I getting in the way of my own progress?”
The reality was that things were emerging, albeit slowly, and I needed to be patient and not resist the current flow, but allow it to come on its own terms and timelines.
I am familiar with this pattern of mine—my desire to have things happen quickly – as quickly as I think of them while knowing things can’t change with the snap of a finger.
I also know that the more I resist and push back, the more stuck I feel in my own thinking. Sometimes this actually pushes me to abandon something that means a lot to me.
Given that this pattern is so familiar, I’ve developed ways to work with it, to sense the stuckness. From my past experiences, I’ve learned that the only way for me to untangle and get unstuck is to tune into the resistance – not as a concept (words), but as an experience.
I connect to the bodily sensations that take place, track them, and explore the emotions and the movements to see if new meaning shows up.
When we are in transition, my dad used to say that “first comes a nudge, then a movement, then a word and last a context”.
Today, as I sense the resistance through my body, I notice my weight shifting onto the front of my feet and my heels starting to lift. I also experience this forward movement in my upper torso as if I am about to dive into a pool. I start to hold my breath and get a tightness in my lower back and sit bones. I sense a fixed gaze coming on as if I am preparing for the hunt and sense tightness in my facial muscles. Although I am looking straight ahead, I can’t see anything that’s in front of me.
I notice a new thought emerging and images start to show up. As I orient myself to my facial tightness and sense for direction, an inward movement starts to happen, and I can sense my body re-organising and re-mobilising. My pelvis engages, and I notice a change in my breath as it travels through my body. I feel tingling in the extremities of my feet, and I start to feel grounded once again.
As I allow these bodily sensations to settle, I realise that I am resisting my own progress as I expect the outcome of how things should be. I notice that I am not ready to let go of the form I’ve drawn in my mind and am not willing to engage with what is emerging, as it’s not entirely owned and known. I realise that I am still transitioning through the change – and I have yet to arrive.
Many of us don’t see a difference between change and transition, yet they are two very distinct processes with specific focuses and intent.
While change is external – an outer experience where you either choose to change or it happens to you. Transition is an inner/inward experience – more connected to your willingness, readiness, and capacity to embrace and move with the change. Transition is a psychological state.
COVID-19 is an excellent example of change that we didn’t ask for. We didn’t want or expect to change our way of living but have had to adapt. However, each of us is experiencing COVID-19 differently – we are all at different stages in our transition process.
So how can you help yourself through this in-between place and journey through transitions in a more informed way?
- Track your body: Notice the emotional waves and changes you experience and bring them to the sensorial level to track the response over time.
- Reflect on your progress: Hold an embodied and reflective practice such as walking, journaling, swimming, cycling, or meditating to help you see your progress.
- Recognise others’ influence in your journey: Create a list of all the mentors or guides that have come your way and what they have each taught you about yourself.
- List of endings: list what has ended and what is ending for you. This will allow you to take stock of where you are and what are you releasing, or still dragging and holding to.
- Dive deep within: Explore ‘What if’ statements and question ‘Who would I be if…?’
- Have a confidant: Find someone you can openly speak to about your experiences and help you see yourself with more compassion.
- Self-compassion: Ask yourself, what would be your guide to a friend going through the same state? Punishing the self never helped anyone grow.
- Connect to your resources: List all the things, people, situations, strengths, and experiences that you have created for yourself and that have allowed you to be you. A gratitude practice of what has worked for you and what you are experiencing.
- Determine who the voices belong to: When negative thoughts show up, ask yourself, what are they trying to bring to your attention that you are not able to see or experience? Whose words are these? Who do they represent in your life? For example, is that the voice of an ex, a father, a mother, a wounded child, a protagonist, a tormentor…?
- Listen profoundly and intently: Learn to shift your listening to the sensations that the thoughts bring up for you, rather than focusing on the idea.
- Reframe your mindset: Can you start looking at what shows up as just one possibility amongst others and not the only one? These are options, not choices.
Hopefully using these practices, you will better understand the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual journey that you go through when undergoing periods of transition. Be patient and compassionate as you go, and you will start to learn more about yourself than ever before.