Transitions are a part of life — in fact, there is no way to avoid them. From the beginning, we transition: birth, infancy, toddlerhood, early childhood all the way into adulthood. Even then, transition bombards us as we experience various stages of personal and professional change. Relationships come and go; perhaps we marry and have children, all while making our way through jobs we love, and some we love to hate.
If transitions have been with us from the beginning, why do they often feel so difficult?
The answer came to me in an interesting way — a dance class where I was working on milonga. The instructor, hoping to help us transition through different dance patterns, explained the importance of listening to the music for clues. When the music is just right, the transitions feel more natural because they come at the perfect time. However, when we try to shift to a new pattern in the middle of a musical phrase, it feels awkward because the timing doesn’t make sense.
And so it is with life transitions! We know that it’s time for a change and we either rush to make it happen before the timing is perfect or we procrastinate and miss the perfect opportunity!
How to Know When the Timing is Right
The key to knowing when the timing is right, at least according to my dance instructor, is to be mindful. Listen keenly. Be in the flow. Don’t resist. Don’t rush.
In a perfect world, yes. But in the hubbub of everyday life, that’s not always so easy to do unless we make it a priority to turn inward and listen. Is it possible that we all know when the time is right, but don’t give ourselves credit for our knowing?
One of my favorite pieces from Lebanese writer and poet Kahlil Gibran is on self-knowledge.
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.
Because we no longer trust our inner knowing, we need confirmation from outside of ourselves that the time is right. We lean on our spouse, friends, parents, and sometimes even our children to say, “Hey, why don’t you….”
It all boils down to listening to our hearts and trusting the inner knowing.
Three Practices to Connect Intuition and Mindfulness
Meditation is a great way to become more mindful in daily life. Berkeley University suggests that mindfulness has become more prominent during the last decade because study after study demonstrated the positive effects it can have on its subject, regardless of age. Benefits reported include decreased depression and stress and enhanced attention, self-control, social participation, and respect for others. Not only were these benefits noted during studies, but they were still observed several months post study as well. This article includes links to 50 facilitated meditations to help you become increasingly mindful and happy! Looking for an answer to an important life question? Consider the question before your meditation, then note the thoughts and feelings you experience while you are meditation. Chances are, the answer will be among them.
If you’re not ready for meditation, try slowing down — literally. Move more slowly and pay attention to how your body is moving through space (and time). Feel your feet with each step. Focus on the feel of anything you touch, the taste of everything you put in your mouth. Look at the people around you and remember that every living being is primarily made up of six common elements. We are the same, yet different. Ponder the likeness. Admire the difference.
Take a walk outside for some fresh air. As you walk, take slow deep inhalations through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Imagine that you are breathing in new insights and answers and exhaling fears and concerns. Your brain will thank you. The Mayo Clinic reports that walking not only helps maintain a healthy weight, prevent heart disease and diabetes, it also improves your mood. Find a park bench and sit with your questions and concerns. Ask for an answer and see what shows up for you. Perhaps your favorite bird will land nearby and sing a song for you. That could mean a yes, or don’t worry. Or, maybe you see a squirrel run in front of a bicyclist, barely avoiding disaster for both. That could mean a no, or beware!
Transition is another word for change, and we know that change can create resistance. If you feel resistance in your life, ask yourself what is holding you back? Then ask what it would take to help you move forward?
As Gibran writes, we have the knowledge within; it’s just a matter of acknowledging and accepting our wisdom. Sometimes in dance, we step ahead or behind the music and it creates a moment of awkwardness. The good news is that as the music continues, we can always get back in sync.
And so it is with life!
How can you come to better trust your inner wisdom, Bravehearts?
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As an avid Latin Dancer, I can attest — dance offers so many metaphors and life lessons. Here’s to the dance of life!
We all love progress but the process of transition is scary. Thank you for such a beautiful piece.
I so love this post, Sheila. And your suggestions to “…be mindful. Listen keenly. Be in the flow. Don’t resist. Don’t rush.” And you’re right: If we miss a step, we can always get back in sync with the music of our lives.
When we take the time to sit and listen, as in meditation, we always hear what we need to know. Great post.
Hi Sheila, I love the dance metaphor and your dance instructor’s wisdom about transitions. I started meditating daily about 4 years ago and definitely have found it relaxes me and opens me up to better accept change and move in sync with my body’s wisdom. Thanks for an informative and fun post!
I love how you are inspiring us to listening to our inner guidance. The visualization is amazing, and the metaphor of dance is perfect.
“Sometimes in dance, we step ahead or behind the music and it creates a moment of awkwardness. The good news is that as the music continues, we can always get back in sync.”