Transition is a strange place to be. It’s an uncertain, borderless territory where you have to dig deep and dredge up your faith, where you are required to perfect the art of letting go and living each day as it comes, where expectation is a useless beast and anxiety an ever-present possibility cowering in the corner of your mind, waiting for a crack in your calm where it can jump in and begin its work of agitation and doom-incitement.
People have very varying attitudes to transition – some people can’t stand even very small transitions (the demon of imposed change) whereas some people spend a large portion of their lives living in a state of flux. I used to think I would like as little transition as possible, but I’ve turned out to be a bit of a transition addict. This may be because I haven’t yet found my ‘place’, but I am beginning to think this is just how I am; a transition junkie.
Whether we love it or loathe it, transition has a lot to teach us. And as with everything in life, we move through it with far more grace if we assume a posture of learning. Transition teaches us that it’s ok to not know what comes next; or if we know, how to approach it with openness and fluidity. It teaches us to be present, as we have left the past structure behind and have not yet adopted the future one; as such we have no where else to be apart from the present – and when you’re present you are far more open to seeing other possibilities that you might normally miss.
Enforced transition was the first place I discovered real presence, and the freedom inherent in it. I was 22 and had signed up to work over the summer with Club Med – I didn’t yet know where my assignment would take me, and would only know a few days before I would have to be there. When I did get there after an mad dash into central Paris and a night train to Spain, I found that my sense of adventure had switched itself back on after years of being dormant and absolutely everything excited and delighted me – I went on rambling expeditions by myself, hitch-hiking on roads simmering in the summer heat, bathing idly in little rocky coves, did a spontaneous poi performance in the little theatre, played guitar in the early mornings after work (I was a barman) with the Spanish contingent and a myriad of other beautifully random encounters and experiences.
That summer radically changed me and my perception of transition – it was no longer a treacherous mire of hidden holes and sneaky traps but instead an invitation to a greater experience of freedom, to live more deeply in the moment and to be pure me; to engage without expectation in each moment as it arises, to accept the state of floating and embrace the uncertainty, to learn that to live without a story is the greatest freedom we can have.
Transition therefore, is a remarkably effective tool in the treatment of control-freakishness, future-stressing, stuckness, boredom and grief (it’s easy to get stuck in grief and transition pushes us out of it and back into life). It knocks us out of our comfort zone and we find ourselves suddenly cut loose, floating free, terrified and excited, and very, very alive. In order to be constructive however it needs to be combined with action and anxiety-management; action in that you need to be moving forwards in some way, and if you don’t manage your anxiety you can’t profit from the experience.
If you know you’re going to be entering a transition phase, arm yourself with anchors and tools to keep you calm and centered, paint the worst case scenario and make friends with it, paint your ideal state that you’d like to maintain throughout and hold it always in the back of your mind, remind yourself to take one step at a time, be gentle with your fears and give them time to state their case (and then tell them thanks but you don’t need them anymore), procure a journal and set your intention to being as present as possible and viewing your unfolding life with curiosity.
- Walnut Bach Essence
- Valerian and/or Passionflower supplements
- Regular exercise
- Yogic breathing