How’s your nervous system these days? Are you grounded enough? Are you moving enough? Are you breathing?
Whether you’re feeling completely lost at sea in this unfamiliar world right now, or trying to fit into old models of pre-pandemic living, or actually reaching a place where your feet land on soil, the voice of the liminal echoes through the chambers of this time.
I shared with you last week some of my thoughts about uncertainty. It is interesting to experience reaching a decision, following through, and still feeling the dilemma, not at all grounded in the choice, still walking in unsure shoes, knowing that if we chose the other option, we would still feel ungrounded in our choice, and doubt the steps we take as well.
The exciting thing about this experience for me, and when I say exciting, I don’t mean that I’m jumping up and down, delighted, I mean that I keep inviting myself to look into the opportunities that pulse in this space of unformed realities. So what’s exciting for me here, is the freedom to craft a way of living that is less tied to old forms and old norms.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes often says: “You will never live an ordinary life, so stop trying to be normal.”
Freedom can feel limiting sometimes. Too free, and you have no idea where to put your feet. Too many possibilities and nothing feels possible.
And yet while we are always free to create who we are, and the invitation to create the world is not saved only for special occasions, we are living through a moment so pregnant with the opportunity to NOT go back to normal, that it hurts to just fall back blindly into old ways.
Here, in the liminal space between the old and known world, and a different kind of world that is not yet shaped, we question more vigorously than ever, and we float in the curious discomfort of not having answers.
For how long? You might ask yourself. Maybe you’re getting tired and maybe even a little depressed here. I know I am. Especially when we make plans, and we’re excited for what’s to come, and we think we’re carving a new path, and then it falls apart. Again. It’s exhausting, my friend, so I hope that you are finding ways to take good care of yourself.
It takes a really long time for a planet to form. It takes time to form a new reality. So many variables. So much to consider. So much to figure out. Beliefs to break up with. Systems to break down. Ideas to pull from imagination into earthly existence.
We’ve been accustomed to a fast world, where everything is at our fingertips, and if it’s not immediate, we get impatient. If it doesn’t happen right away with ease, we start to think it’s not meant to be. And sometimes it’s true, and if it’s too hard, and too unfulfilling, it’s a good idea to set it aside. But sometimes we miss out on depth, width, and richness of experience, when we rush. Taking a long time with something is not what our culture expects of us.
But you know what – the long way home is often where life’s flavors move on our palate in delicious, nourishing, and most fulfilling ways.
A few months ago I was feeling sad because I didn’t seize the opportunity of pandemic to slow down more, and to formulate a new culture. The energy around me was trying so hard to get “back to normal” and even though I thought normal was bullshit, I didn’t feel like I did enough to dissolve the old and take my time to shape the new.
Now I’m realizing that we have time. We are not normal. We’re not back to normal. Normal fucking sucked for so many of us! And normal is not coming back. So trying to fit into the old normal clothes with this new body is torture.
Maybe you’re asking yourself: Now what? And maybe we will need to keep asking for a while. Maybe we will need to pause for longer than we wanted. We will need to listen. Maybe the question will repeat for a long long time before the sprout of a solution will shoot up into our light. And not all sprouts will turn to trees. And maybe we need to learn to live in the ambiguity of a threshold for longer than we’re comfortable with.
The liminal is the realm of transition. It’s the fire of transformation. It’s the ashes of a burnt past. It’s the fluids that create new life. It’s the space between your breaths. It’s the earth’s reminder of her existence before us and after us. It’s the crossroad in the weaving of layers and layers of seen and unseen. It’s the moonlight, or the darkness, or the sky turning from grey to pink right before sunrise. It’s the upside down perspective that opens up more ways of seeing. It’s the look in your child’s eyes that reveals that they are not so little anymore. It’s the tears over a parent losing their mind. It’s the moment when you catch a glimpse of the power you have over the memories you create.
A year and a half in a liminal labyrinth…
“How long can I be in this fucking transition stage?!”
Apparently, my friend, this space between things is the new thing.
It’s where it’s at
The Disco Of The Disconnected
Dark. Sweaty. Loud. Lonely. Silent.
You feel the beats of the base
Though there is no base
It’s the 2020’s
Not the 1920’s
Glamour is gone and gloom is going strong
Maybe it feels like all your choices are wrong
In the rhythm of the unknown
In this song of the in between
But if we want to break up with the machine
That turns us to capital robots and pushes us to produce more
And more and more
Until it cuts us from our core
We might want to hang here
Where things are not clear
And learn the arts of upside down
Where there’s no anchor and the ground is nowhere to be found
Not quite anywhere
It might feel limiting, but the old forms seem to fade away into the ether
And if we hang here for long
A new vision will be born
If you want to embody the liminal space, try some inversions (to help shift your perspective, and hang out in the less familiar) – headstand, shoulderstand, foaram-stand, or handstand. If these poses are not a part of your practice, a downdog is an inversion too. In fact, every time you do downdog, you take the form of the dog – the loyal companion, the guard of the underworld, the keeper of the threshold, the one that stands between life and death, the howler on the outskirts of society, and the one who is your best friend. Downdog can be your physical home for the metaphors of the liminal.
Here’s a simple, basic, and most profound pranayama practice, to help your nervous system settle and get grounded (you know this one, but this is your reminder to DO IT! And while we’re at it, go drink a big glass of water after this, ok?): Take a few moments with your breath, and find the space between them. Pause at the end of the exhale, before a new inhale flows in, and then pause at the end of your inhale, and take a moment before the breath releases back out. Lengthen those pauses. Invite yourself to take time in the space between things.
I hope this is helpful, interesting, thought provoking, or supportive for the process you are in right now.
If there’s someone in your life who might benefit from this message, please share it with them, and encourage them to sign up to this list so they can receive these messages directly.
I am sending you love and breath and hope.