What is the Third-Life Alignment all about: PART TWO

Apr 7, 2016

What is the Third Life Alignment: PART TWO | www.nalumana.com

In Part One, I talked about the idea of the Third-Life Alignment, how I came to understand it among my coaching clients and then among the women I interviewed.  I talked about some of the key characteristics that define a Third-Life Alignment, and distinguish it from the quarter-life and mid-life crises that surround it.

Today, I will talk about the five distinct stages of the Third-Life Alignment.


What are the Stages of the Third-Life Alignment?


I like to picture the stages of the alignment like a wave building, cresting and breaking.  At the beginning of the wave’s formation is The Catalyst stage.

Women talk about the Third-Life Alignment often being catalyzed by something.  Sometimes that catalyst is characterized by a fairly abrupt change in their lives, like becoming a mother, or having a change in relationship or health status.  Sometimes the catalyst comes more gradually, in the form of a realization.  Women may realize that they’ve reached all the goals they’d set out for themselves – in career, love, and family life, for example – but they find their lives aren’t as fulfilled as they thought they would be.  They may realize that their careers no longer align with their values.  They may find their children growing old enough to be more independent, resulting in a desire for more personal development.  Sometimes the catalyst is the development of or a change in spiritual practice, or the need for more space, self-care and self-love.

Women who are in the Catalyst stage often report feeling imposter syndrome, or like they are living a double life.  Something has to change…

The wave is building.  Once the Catalyst has occurred, the momentum toward alignment begins.  We want to live in authenticity, in integrity, and so it is our nature to move towards this in our lives.

From the Catalyst naturally flows the Assessment Stage.  This is where women take stock of their lives and truly assess and understand what areas of their lives feel out of alignment.  Is it career?  Motherhood?  Relationship?  Spirituality?  Most of the women I talked to felt in alignment in many areas of their lives, but not all.

The Assessment Stage can be really tough, because it involves being very honest with oneself about what feels right and what feels wrong.  It’s a peeling back of the layers of who you thought you were, to reveal your core values, beliefs, and desired ways of being.  One woman I spoke to said, “my whole life has been a building up – accumulating things, experiences, career goals – and now I feel like I’m dismantling things.”

The next Stage of the Alignment is the Exploration Stage.  This is where possibility thinking happens:  “If I feel out of alignment in XYZ area of my life, what can I do to bring myself back into alignment?”  This is where things might get creative, and juicy.  It usually starts with small-scale experimentation:  will I feel more connected to my inner badass if I dye my hair purple?  Will I like volunteering at my local women’s shelter so much that I start looking for a job in the non-profit sector?  Will I go on a road trip that convinces me to buy a round-the-world plane ticket?

Much as the Exploration Stage can be really fun, it can be scary, and simply time-consuming as well.  It requires thoughtful self-questioning, the courage to try new things, the drive to put ideas into action.  It requires some explanation of your purple hair or your volunteer gig or your road trip to the people in your life who have always thought you’d stay the same.  It requires a lot of self-love, compassion and acceptance.

You have reached the peak of the wave when you transition into the Courage/Surrender Stage.  The Exploration has allowed you to test out what feels better, what feels more authentic to you, and it’s time to commit to change.  You might find yourself quitting your job, moving, travelling, parenting differently, running a marathon, and the like.  There is a distinct sense of rebelliousness among the women I’ve talked to about this phase of the Alignment – of going against the grain, doing the thing that no one expected you to do.  It’s going to take guts.  And it’s scary.  You’re going to have to let go of what doesn’t fit with your aligned self anymore.  The magical thing, though, is that the women I’ve talked to about this stage of the Alignment have all shared that getting in touch with your intuition is the antidote to this fear.  That gut-feel of knowing that you’re headed in the right direction is what will give you the courage to slide over the crest of this wave and into surrender, where you’ve committed to change and with that, you’ve committed to whatever may come of it.

When the wave breaks and you are riding it, you have made the decisions you’ve needed to make and started along the path toward greater alignment in your life, you get to experience what surfers feel as they become one with the wave.  You’re in the Alignment Stage, the last step in this journey.  One woman I talked to shared that “you know you’re standing in the truth of who you are because it feels like home.  You know what you’re meant to do, there’s almost a power you can feel.”

YES.  Women in this Stage of the Alignment process talk about feeling lightness, freedom, peace, and calm.  The striving stops, and there is ease in their lives for the first time in a long time.  They feel alive, no longer like they’re going through the motions, reaching goals for the sake of reaching them.  They are ALIGNED.

Your Turn:


Does this description of the Third-Life Alignment resonate with you?
How has the Third-Life Alignment played out in your life?

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!