How to Live in the Liminal Spaces
“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”
~ Nancy Levin
We have so many examples of transition and change when we watch and witness mother nature. In the past few years, this deepening understanding has brought me great tranquility. Knowing, intellectually and experientially, that change is inevitable and that I have no control feels liberating somehow.
Within today’s article, I want to talk about the subject of transition from the perspective of liminal space, sharing my thoughts on what it is and that it need not be totally dis-embodying and scary.
I remember when my eldest child was nearing the end of kindergarten and readying for First grade. Our Girl Scout troop held a ceremony for the kiddos, which included walking over a short wooden garden bridge that was temporarily placed upon the blacktop, in the kindergarten play area.
Each child stood in line awaiting their turn to move from Daisy to Brownie. And each girl walked the 4, or maybe 5 feet, rising into the air a total of about 6 inches, making it to the other side with grace, ease, and without missing a beat. A simple few steps and the transition was complete. The children were now anointed to retire their peacock blue apron and slip into a UPS brown attire. Over the bridge, they went, and completion was theirs.
If only the liminal space between life’s transitions were always this easy and grace-filled. If only we smiled across the bridge feeling safe, secure, and giddy about the unknown future. With supporters cheering us on and our peers right there beside us joyfully watching.
“Moments or periods of transition during which the normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are relaxed, opening the way to novelty and imagination, construction and destruction.”
~ Dave Gray
So what course do I take and recommend when my experience leads to great discomfort or terror as my awareness of being between is high, and trust is low?
Let’s start with the acceptance that the Genie is out of the bottle.
What rubs our chamber to the point of expelling our Genie, could be anything: A relationship that is fracturing, a behavior that is no longer congruent to our life, a simple niggle we could not ignore. Whatever the cause, we are now out of the bottle of past experience and structure, and to even contemplate going back in feels unobtainable, ludicrous, and downright unsurvivable. No matter how beautiful that vessel is from the outside, we cannot contort ourselves back into the shape that it demands. We may look back or dream of being re- incapsulated but we know (deep inside) that that life no longer exists.
Understand that there are many iterations of being out of the bottle. We may have a toe out and feel a niggle, or we may be wafting through the air formless looking for anything to grasp or land upon. We are untethered from the past, and boundlessly awaiting the future.
Wherever you find yourself, along this spectrum, simply acknowledging that you feel between or betwixt something can bring physical and emotional relief to your weariness. Using a journal prompt such as I acknowledge I am in the space between and it feels… can be quite helpful in grounding your awareness, and to express how it feels, in the body, mind, and spirit.
Next, let’s befriend the unknown.
The invitation here is to begin to reframe, your perception, of this liminal space as a place not to fear, but a place conducive to our wildest dreams being imagined and manifested into form. To see the lack of bounds, you are experiencing, as not a calamity, but as the pure infinite potential for more beauty and joy in your life.
Here we practice releasing WORRY (which can be defined as praying for disaster) replacing it, through regular meditation, with the awareness of consciousness itself. A place that is limitless and boundless. We can even rename the unknown as the pure potential for all that we desire.
And then, we surrender.
Realizing that long before we can articulate or express our desires they have been showing themselves in bits and pieces: A dream here, an experience there, in fits and starts we are always given glimpses of a future, even while occupying our old space or a space of no form, we are literally free-flying and creating what’s next. The question becomes can we accept the unknown trusting in something greater?
I like to bring gratitude in, at this point, a list or a mental exercise, to remind myself how I am led and carried.
I also invite you to leave the “how” to the Great Mystery. Surrender to what’s on your plate today (with gratitude,) even and especially when it makes no logical sense about how that will get you where you are going. TRUST that you are being led, being guided, and being held.
“The off-center in-between state is an ideal situation in which to open our hearts and minds beyond limit “
~ Pema Chödrön
To wrap up
I am so glad you are still reading this because this is what’s important. The space between, the gray and the betwixt is LIFE.
Life is innately liminal and should not be missed for fear you don’t end up where you want to go.
Yes, we can plan, set goals, and even “want” things, but the process of living, the day-to-day choices, and the day-to-day experience is actually our life. There is nowhere to get to, there is life in the here and now, informed by the past and pregnant with the future. Our very existence is a state of perpetual uncertainty. What will you do with yours?