Module 2 : dancing with the dark
& the divine
Transitions with Grace and Grief
What is a Transition really? How do we do it? And WHY?
Our soul’s only mission is to grow. So, the soul calls in growth in 3 ways
Loss, Abandonment, Rejection
All of these things catapult us into a process of Transition whether we like it or not. So...how do you intentionally do Transition so to not feel like its happening TO you but FOR you. And….guess what..you can be intentional about it!
Transitions are INTERNAL processes while change is something EXTERNAL.
It was a Universal practice that when someone is about to undergo a big shift they were taken out of the everyday life to undergo a rite of passage that marked the shift... Physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. In our modern culture, there are very few rights of passage or any recognitions of the many transitions we make...so we keep going without stopping to reflect on the different person we have become or are becoming. We simply skip the process of reflection, grief and honoring that Transitions deserve and need in order to complete emotional cycles and give us distinct markers of the roles we are meant to play in life. Knowing where we are in time and space can help us feel more secure and confident in who we are. Unrecognized, these shifts can feel confusing!
Transitions consist of 3 phases and it all begins with an END.
1. The Ending or Saying Goodbye: Letting go, loss of the comfort and safety of the past and the old way of doing things. (The comfort zone)
Most people experience negative emotions here: shock, anger, disappointment, and more. This is the easiest phase to get stuck in as we mostly don’t know how to and avoid grief.
We start by initiating an ending by separating ourselves from what was...
Invariably a significant life transition leads us to disengage from an old situation; an aspect of our lives that we were familiar with and able to count on has come to an end. This could be leaving a significant relationship or place of work, moving across the state, finishing a significant project, or sending your child off to college. Disengagement is an outwardly visible process. We are moving away from a known situation. Disengagement may be as simple as no longer returning to an old place of work. At other times breaking away may be more of an iterative process and it will take time to become disentangled.
Ending our connection with the familiar impacts our sense of self. We lose ’self-definition’ and often our self-confidence will be shaky for a while until we are more certain about what is next. We can feel an immense feeling of being “lost” here. .It is also the phase where you let go of the identity that you had associated yourself with. You enter a period of non-identity and have to come to terms with a new reality that you may not have wanted.
Leaving the old evokes memories and experiences of disappointment and we move through a period where old dreams carry less meaning or fade away altogether. We become disenchanted, sometimes even nearing a felt sense of depression, which actually helps us with the process of letting go. For as long as the old dream is alive it ties us to the past and our old hopes. In a way when the dream dies we are truly freer to let go of our old reality. It’s the place where we realize the old thing isn’t what we thought it was and can start to see beyond the fairytale we were telling ourselves. Disenchantment represents the necessary death of the dream and prepares the way to dream anew.
When we leave the familiar and enter new territory, feeling disoriented is to be expected. All the customary signs are gone and the “I-know-where-I-am-going” feeling is replaced with a sense of being lost or feeling undecided about which direction to turn. Confusion, tiredness and slower processing are present here.
This disorientation signals that we are taking the necessary steps toward emptiness. In many indigenous cultures this emptiness, while not enjoyable, is celebrated. Rites of passages are designed to lead the person toward the threshold of that emptiness. The emptiness represents a kind of death which is an essential step in the process of becoming ready for the new.
In our culture, we are limited to funerals as the way in which we mark death: A time to grieve as a community. We are supported in the loss for a day or three then it’s all about MOVING ON and GETTING PAST it. It marks the event and allows us to process an end. However, in our modern culture, we only mark when people pass on and we rarely have rites of passage or funerals for relationships ending, a job shifts, a dream that can’t happen, a miscarriage or abortion, a belief system change, a spiritual awakening, a shift in values or beliefs...etc. So, we end up skipping or minimizing this essential step in the process of transition and in turn...get stuck. We may cycle in trying to externally change things expecting that this will shift the patterns we feel stuck in. When really we just need to face the discomfort of the end in order to really let it go and clear the space to start again.
Grief demands that you surrender to the pain of loss, the longing for the person/thing/circumstance that left AND the loneliness that arises from them/it being gone. It’s a true acceptance of the fact that something/someone is gone and it will never be the same again.
Longing has a deep quality of PAIN and LOVE in it which makes it almost confusing. How can love hurt so much? It’s not the love that hurts...its an absence of love that hurts….important distinction because many of us then make up the story that they won’t love as deep or as much because they don’t want to feel the pain of love again. The pain exists because there is an illusion that love is gone or taken away. It’s never about the love but more about our confusion and difficulty in feeling the sadness and pain associated with it not being there anymore.
We will avoid endings all together so as to not have to feel these feelings. People love to avoid ends...even if it's just saying goodbye at a party. How do you do goodbyes? This says quite a bit about how you feel about endings on a smaller scale.
When there is an opportunity to grieve...wow...jump in feet first into the deep end! The portal is open and you can do some major house cleaning here. The grief portal is rare and precious and when open if free of story you can help your body release unprocessed grief and pain.
At times, we get scared that we’ll “forget” the person or thing so we need to hold on to the story of our pain. Holding on to the pain or the story won’t keep you connected to the thing/person that is gone. And yes, memories will fade but the love NEVER is gone. We can connect through love always.
My big ah-ha years after I lost my father... “I almost held on to the story because I thought if I have the story of my pain then I’ll always have him”
When I learned to just relate to him from a place where I could feel the love between us...I released the pain that was keeping me stuck in the story of “being left”
2. The Neutral Zone: Navigating the uncertainty between what was and the emergence of the new rules of the road (this is a high-risk, high-uncertainty zone)
Most of us don’t even recognize this phase exists, never mind know how to handle it well. This is the phase when we feel confused, uncertain, and impatient. This is the liminal space- the time in between where there is no ground, no direction and the place where your insecurities arise. What has been lurking unnoticed in the unconscious has a chance to surface in your time of non-identity. This is where whatever is out of alignment will come up to be cleared…(if we can see it that way!)
Remember, your insecurities are like red flags showing you where you aren’t loving yourself and are in alignment with an incorrect program. When insecurity is present...like “I don’t know what to do with my life” “I don’t know what my purpose it” “I don’t have the knowledge, money, relationships that I’m supposed to” “I don’t have my shit together and everyone else does…” ask yourself...what part of me feels this way? Where is it coming from and what does that part need??
Mostly, we feel the insecurity and want to rush to the new beginning so as to not have to feel it. But, that’s a dangerous move because then the new beginning will have come from desperation to not feel rather than an aligned choice for what best suits you in the process of growth. Plus, you then gave up the chance to heal the insecurity that was presenting itself. But...Don’t worry...the universe will give you another opportunity!
This time is like swimming across a bay...you’ve left the old land and are getting tired of working so hard, feel like giving up because the new isn’t even in site but your too far to turn back and you don’t resonate with that place anymore.
Here our lesson is to learn to be empty. Learn to love what arises in the anxiousness of the unknown. Learn to sit with discomfort and not make it go away. See the shadow and not hide. See the deep, permanent healing that is possible only through the stripping away of our preconceived notion of identity. We are endless possibilities.
3. The New Beginning: (Creating a new comfort zone)
We start to attach to and identify with the newness that change brings. We start to feel more excitement, optimism, and comfort. The new beginning comes from this newly formed version of yourself...the things you choose here reflect the integrated lessons and experiences.
The new beginning signifies that you have made it to the other side. There will be an adjustment period however there is an overall feeling of moving on. You made it and there is a whole new level of excitement, dreams, and visions that come from the new version of your life from this perspective.
Qs: How often do you stay in something for too long so that you don’t have to face an end...a job, a friendship, a relationship?
We compromise ourselves here a lot and make others behaviors ok so as to not have to feel the discomfort of and face an ending.
Remember that the END may just be a VERSION of a relationship: the death of how it used to be and the reality of what it is now becoming... relationships need updates as we become different. This often means letting go of how it "used to be"
What funerals do you need to have? What endings are you aware of that need a ceremony?
Can you have a rite of passage for yourself to mark the wisdom and experiences you have undergone?
Can you celebrate your journey thus far with all the endings, pains, joys and beauty you have undergone?