The process of transition can be broken down into three parts: the letting go of what was, the middle flux zone, and the new beginning. Sometimes these phases are very distinct from each other and other times they seem jumbled together. Understanding what is going on can help you stay grounded and connected in the midst of apparent chaos. Remember that everything is about change; think of the ocean waves, your breath, the seasons, the rise and fall of the sun, the cycles of life.
Whether it is the ending of summer or the ending of a relationship, our ability to let go determines our experience. Sometimes when a change presents itself as a new and wonderful opportunity we are not even aware that an ending is in process. We may wake up one morning in our new house or our new job and suddenly find ourselves grieving what we gave up to be here. Or maybe we find ourselves moving to the old inner rhythms of life as we knew it and struggling to adjust to new rhythms, similar to what is commonly known as jet lag. Other times we are so acutely aware of the pain of a loss that it is difficult to see any positive future. This phase is the receding ocean wave, the exhale of breath, the releasing of what is over to make room for something new. It is important to allow yourself to safely experience whatever emotions arise in order for them to modulate and transform, so seek support when you need it.
Perhaps the most interesting time is the middle zone. This is what I call the "Alice in Wonderland" or "Down the Rabbit Hole" phase. Not quite knowing what is going on and wanting to stay the same and to change at the same time, it can be a period of confusion and overwhelm and a time of delightful awakening and exhilaration. Sometimes it seems like too much too fast and other times we are impatient for it to be over and done. In the practice of yoga we take the time to observe this as the pause between the exhale and the inhale. It is the crest of the wave, and it offers great opportunity for internal as well as external change if we allow ourselves to be present and pay attention.
A new beginning may be the result of a welcomed gift such as a great job offer or a promising new relationship, or it might be the phoenix rising from the ashes of a sorrowful loss. This emergence is the inhale, the taking in of a fresh breath and nourishment. It is enhanced by embracing differences rather than allowing your thoughts to generate anxiety about them. Know that the only difference between anxiety and excitement is your belief about what is happening; the physiological process is the same. Think about falling in love and how willing we are at that time to accept someone or something new. If you bring that enthusiasm to accepting what is, to falling in love with whatever new gifts are being given to you, you will experience more joy and resiliency.
Sometimes we forget that the root of 'emergency' is to 'emerge', to come forth. There are people who believe that all emergent changes, even the good ones, are stressful. Since we are constantly experiencing change, perhaps our ability to deal with transition is the key factor as to how we are affected by stress. One way to smooth transitions is to simply observe them and merge with the flow when you can. Be aware that you are in the wave, remember to breathe, and don't resist against the undertow. Feel your emotions (even the ones you don't like feeling) knowing that they too will change, and stay engaged in how you practice your self care routines no matter how busy you get. Continue to exercise, eat well, and stay connected with your support system. If things seem overwhelming, instead of trying to do more faster, take a moment to stop and observe your breath and know that it is just your metamorphosis unfolding before you.
"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar. . . .
"I--I hardly know, Sir, just at present," Alice replied rather shyly,
"at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think
I must have been changed several times since then."
From Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'