Facing Transition – A Time To Listen Closely
What if a big change has just happened in your life. Maybe you moved to a new area, you lost a loved one, you lost or started a job, your last child just left home. You are in a significant transition right now on the brink of a brand-new season in your life. Maybe the old one was filled with musts and shoulds that weren’t really a fit like an old coat you have outgrown. You know you don’t want that old way and you know you want freedom. Freedom to do what? Do you know what you do want or do you feel a little lost inside the freedom? I lost my father in 2016 so I know this one from the inside.
Are You A Candle In The Wind?
When a big change occurs by choice or otherwise, do you respond or do you feel like you are being blown around by life’s whims? If you have spent a significant chunk of your life taking care of everyone else, you might not even know what color towels you want in your bathroom or what time you want to eat dinner never mind what career you might actually feel passionate about. You could just go with what comes along like a candle in the wind, buying whatever towels are on sale or mindlessly watching a video. I have been a candle in the wind at times in my life only to find myself in situations that I really did not like, big and small. Instead you can choose a new path in this new season. What if you set an intention to discover what you most want in this new season of your life?
How Do You Know What You Like?
First things first. How do you know if you like something? I often hear, “well, I just know.” Let’s listen a little closer. Think of something you definitely like. It might be your fuzzy, soft, favorite pair of slippers or the warm aroma of that particular grind of coffee you drink every morning. Now, bring that thing into your mind’s eye and as you do that, notice what happens in your body. Where do you feel the sensation of liking this favorite thing? As I call up an experience of the purr of my beloved cat, Abby, I feel this liking in my heart as a sensation of warmth and fullness. What about you? Now really let the sensation spread and deepen. When you do that according Rick Hanson in his book Hardwiring Happiness, you are changing neural networks, which with practice will sensitize your brain to the positive.
For some of us this whole thing seems much more difficult. You might notice that as soon as you look for a sensation, a waterfall of thoughts splashes through your mind, obliterating any awareness of sensation. The thinking channel feels like home for many of us. That’s okay. You just learned something about yourself. When you start to drop into your body, you quickly take yourself back up and out. You just found a growing edge: to cultivate the capacity to notice and stay with a positive body sensation so you can grow this new channel of information. Many of us lost track of our bodies a long time ago if we grew up in scary and overwhelming environments. Many of us were rewarded for thinking rather than feeling. This loss of connection to our felt sense makes it harder to know our deepest desires.
Listen Closely – Change The Channel
When we develop the ability to hang out with positive body sensations, we open and nurture a deeper listening to ourselves and our deepest needs and wants, a sort of meditation. It’s a new channel to turn to besides the thought “I have to figure this out” channel. During transitions, it is especially important that we take the time to listen closely to our sensations because they will tell us if we like something and want more of it or dislike something and want to move away from it. Ask yourself right now if you have ever been aware of and yet ignored those signals and realized later that you ran an internal stop sign that was trying to save you a lot of grief. Clients often say to me “I knew I shouldn’t have done that.” By listening closely, you connect deeply with yourself, increasingly the likelihood that you will consistently move towards what you most want rather than always leaving what you don’t want. Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps The Score writes “If you have a comfortable connection with your inner sensations — if you can trust them to give you accurate information — you will feel in charge of your body, your feelings, and yourself.” Facing transition begins with listening closely. It’s time to change the channel.