I keep hearing myself say that “I am in a lot of transition right now.” When I say this, I have noticed that the accompanying feeling is often a bit of rushed energy or intense exertion. It is not a very relaxed state and often many thoughts crowd in when I say it – to-do lists and plans and due dates. Today I am stopping to remember that we are always “in transition.” From awake to asleep, from cooking to eating to digesting, from talking to listening, from sitting to standing, from leaving to arriving, we are constantly shifting from one state to another. In each of these shifts, we have many chances to bring more awareness and presence to the transition. A moment of gratitude or an instant of noticing tension, or an ability to breathe before responding, or an awareness of physical strength could all be possible experiences during a transition.
And, yes, there are “larger” transitions happening right now, with my youngest daughter moving out and my partner starting a new business and my upcoming ordination/completion of a ministry program. Each of these processes has included fundamental shifts of perspective and feel transformative, but as I pause today I notice that no matter how fundamental or transformative, in the present moment, I could notice just the current transition, the present shift – breathing in and breathing out, lifting my teacup and sipping and putting my teacup down, saying hello and saying goodbye, writing a text and sending it, feeling cold and putting on a sweater. The feeling of time expanding fills me as I write this – even the tiniest moment of full awareness of now is so powerful.
At the same time, I am noticing that all transitions, large or small, involve some exchange of energy. I remember learning about homeostasis: “the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system, to maintain internal stability…” (Dictionary.com) and realizing that while we are alive, we can never be in an absolute homeostatic state – that although we strive for equilibrium/internal stability, we are constantly moving from one state to another. With larger transitions – from wintry weather to the death of a loved one, our efforts towards homeostasis require more energy. Feeling tired or slowed down is a natural response but is often unexpected. Imagining all my systems working double-time helps me to remember to honor my body’s needs, seeing things on a spectrum – from quenching thirst with tea to being with grief with gentleness.
Thich Nath Hanh teaches: “Each time we come back to the present moment, we are making ourselves available.” Instead of answering people’s “how are you’s” by saying, “I am in a lot of transition right now,” and unconsciously feeding tension, I’m going to see if I can pause and breathe and notice what is happening right now, whether it is a calm or intense feeling. I’m going to listen to my body and honor its needs. And I’m going to send love to all my internal systems for the amazing work they are doing!