What to do in the space between

Feb 6, 2018

 

Everything is up in the air.

 

One deep breath.

 

I don’t know who I am anymore.

 

A glass of water.

 

I’m lost.

 

Belly to the earth, feet wide, head cradled.  Heart. Beat.

 

“I know honeybabe.  It’s hard to feel this way.”

 

The space between

 

not-yet-that-but-not-this-anymore

That space where everything is up in the air

 

is called liminal space.

 

It’s not the space between mere changes

that night in the hotel room while you move from one house to another

or in the hospital room as you wait to take home your newborn

or airports, everywhere.

 

It’s the space between transitions:  the changes that change us.  Who we are.  How we identify ourselves and how we navigate the world.

 

We have few experiences in our oh-so-Googleable lives during which we must sit with the unknown, and many of us find it increasingly difficult to Not Know.  Being in liminal space means also you’ve left something behind:  by definition, liminal space is the place we occupy when we can’t go back to the way we were, because the person we were doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s a space where we hold the tension of what-was and what-will-be.

It’s a deeply disconcerting (okay, sometimes shitawful) time that’s also filled with possibility and excitement.  It’s the fertile ground within which the seeds of new beginnings are planted.

 

Most of us, when faced with the discomfort of liminality, search frantically for a way out.  We either strategize our next step so that we can do our way out of the unknowing, leaving it in our dust, or we eat enough chocolate / buy enough things / drink enough wine to make it not matter so much anymore (no?  just me?)

 

But what might be possible if you muster what it takes to stay in liminality?

 

The universe, in its wickedly ironic way of operating, always seems to deal us coaches, doulas and the like with the exact challenges we’re called to support people with.

Psychologists call it parallel processing.

I prefer the term cruel and unusual punishment.

Nevertheless, I’ve found myself in yet another liminal space in the last two months as I adjust to living in a new home in a new community; as I adjust to a new way of life, no less.

And even though I know better, my survival instincts have kicked in and I have wanted nothing more than to do my way out of the discomfort of feeling sad about leaving a life behind, wanting to feel like I belonged in my new community and wanting to make my house feel like home, wanting to create new routines (I could go on…).

I knew I would feel discombobulated for a while,

but I think my understanding of how that would feel was a little hypothetical, before it happened.

 

But what I’ve learned – again for the first time – is this:

doing and numbing are only temporary comforts

but being uncomfortable with liminality still sucks

and it’s really easy to forget to be self-compassionate, and to take care

 

I’ve re-remembered the first thing to do when you don’t know what to do or where to go or who you are:

 

One deep breath.

A glass of water.

Belly to the earth, feet wide, head cradled.  Heart. Beat.

“I know honeybabe.  It’s hard to feel this way.”

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!