A few years ago, I heard a talk by Ellen Debenport, author of Hell in the Hallway, Light at the Door. Her book is a guide to times of transition, ultimately reminding us that even during these difficult times, we have choices and opportunities to claim something that is authentically ours. We may not have had any control or choice in the events or situation that thrust us into the hallway, with a door shut behind us. But here we are, in the hallway and for many, it is being experienced as hell but others are thriving and finding their way through this difficult time, regardless of circumstances.
Another word for this is liminal space, as Richard Rohr describes it, “when you are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life, but not yet entered the next.” Both authors describe this time as full of potential, a time when the patterns of old ways of doing things and being are dramatically interrupted and suspended; plucking us out of the familiar and habitual. For now we are feeling like we are suspended in mid-air; not knowing where we will land, how we will land, or what our new reality will look like. My mentor, Kurt Hill teaches his students that you have to shake someone up in order for transformation or healing to occur. Even Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” One could argue that humanity then is insane, doing the same things over and over ignoring the growing crisis in our environment and growing disparities that are leading to more suffering and uncertainty. We find ourselves shaken up, suddenly a global WE, without solid ground to stand on and I propose it is the greatest opportunity to shift personally and globally we have ever had.
We find ourselves shaken up, suddenly a global WE, without solid ground to stand on and I propose it is the greatest opportunity to shift personally and globally we have ever had.
How do we shift and find that light in the doorway? The photo I found featured above, taken by Hugues de Buyer-Mimeure, spoke to me as a clue to the process or more of an attitude or way of navigating this time. A young girl, immersed in an adventure, following the path of paw prints laid out ahead of her. The photo is full of wonder and there is joy and freedom in her movement like she is expecting to find something wonderful even though she is following the path of a large animal which could be perceived as scary! When faced with our day to day reality and the news feed, it seems hard to see this as a time of adventure but perhaps we can make that choice. The following are some practices I have found helpful and perhaps will be helpful for you too. Let’s follow her lead!
- Spending time to sit with myself in silence. Call it meditation, reflection, coming into the present moment or whatever you like. But it is essential for me now to be with and observe the feelings and thoughts and body sensations that are coming up. Just noticing: where I’m holding tension, feelings of grief or sometimes joy that need to bubble up, what thoughts and beliefs are pulling me down the rabbit hole of fear.
- In this time of reflection, allow memories to come up of times from your past when you were also in transition, crisis or an unknown time. I was surprised to make the connection between my underlying sense of unease to a time in childhood when my father was out of a job for 9 months, with 7 young children to feed! I remember wonderful times of fun and adventure with him but also remember the stress and uncertainty. Sitting with this memory and the energetic remnants of that little girl which is still active within, helped me approach my reactions with self-compassion.
- Don’t create stories about the past or future that aren’t true. It’s easy to project fears into an unknown future, grasp onto stories that are circulating as to the reason this is happening but staying grounded in what is happening NOW, is crucial. I’m trying to stay curious as a way to suspend the mind’s need for explanation and future planning; “isn’t that interesting…”
- In order to open to creative possibilities, I’m asking myself, what’s possible now? I’m getting that I will need to move more of my content and practice online. (obviously!) Yes, many things are no longer possible, but what is? Don’t ask this from a place of anxiety or fear, but rather, take time to calm your nervous system, and from a still place, ask your higher self, what’s open to me now? how can I help? what needs to be expressed? what’s my priority?
When we are present and in a state of open-hearted allowing, we can open ourselves up to our divine potential and grace will swoop in to light up and open doorways we could not have imagined. Go towards something that gives you an internal YES!, whether that is how you do your work, or how you can be of service or creating something new, or just cooking a wonderful meal for your family or listening to someone who needs an ear. It is how we approach this time that will determine what is there when we open that door at the end of the hallway. You choose.