How many ways can you spell ‘transition’? Middle space. Gap. Moving through. Process. Link. Simmering, Passing. Birth. RE-birth. Death. Menopause (lol). Changing state. Present moment. The in-between state….
It seems to be where I am. It seems to be where I have felt I have been for years now, smile. It is what I was thinking and writing about as a college student. It has shaped the character of all my life choices. It is where all my joy lives. It is also where all my heartbreak lives. It appears to be a place that I just keep coming back to over and over again. And as if to accentuate the immediacy of the experience, recent conversations with colleagues and friends about the lack of ease / discomfort that can often be felt in this place is fresh in my heart and mind. Leading me to consider that the promise of getting to the other side of whatever may simply be a ruse to get me to dive into the next gap….
Part of the work of my yoga teacher training is to keep a journal of reflections of a home practice, taking note of what surfaces emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually. It is an opportunity to notice patterns and where I ‘go’ when faced with a challenge in any one of these arenas. To this, I decide to practice by opening one of my books at random to a posture that I do not choose in this moment, but rather, is ‘chosen’ for me. The book opens to Chaturanga Dadansanasa, better known as the ‘four-limbed stick pose’.
It is an arm supported pose that has always been a tremendous challenge for me, something I actually believe I can’t do. Hmmmm. And so I take a deep breath and consider now how to literally reframe how to enter into the consciousness of this pose in a way that will allow me to feel how I CAN do it. I see in my minds’ eye the sequence of poses that will lead me into and out of this pose, moving into it from Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) and moving out of it into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog). I feel the strong support of the earth as I yield into each of these framing poses, which only serves as contrast to what feels like the in-between quality of being in Chaturanga Dandansana, of how poignantly I must rely on the strength of my own core, hovering between earth and sky, to be truly supported in this pose. I feel the discomfort and even a flicker of fear emerge as I realize that supporting myself in this in-between place is not at all where I want to be, and more importantly, not at all where I think I should be! In this in-between place I forget how to yield. And the irony of course is that as I am having this ‘thought’, I am actually also having the experience of holding the pose, of staying here for the briefest of moments, and just long enough for an imprint to be made that will allow me to move into this space with more ease, and perhaps a more connected consciousness, next time….
I am reminded of Pema Chodron and her reflections on the ‘in-between state’ in her book The Places That Scare You. She says, “Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into the struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what’s happening, we begin to access our inner strength…..Our practice is to stay with the uneasiness and not solidify into a view.”
So I am back to how transition = the in-between state, how moving into something new with ease = reframing a belief; how being strong = being tender….