In a time of change and uncertainty, what can be done to ease the transition?
We are in a time of undeniable change, transition, and uncertainty. We are collectively asking the same questions: When will this transition be over? What’s next? How will I withstand the changes that I am not ready for? Who will I be when this is over?
When we are in the midst of change, our power lies in learning to remain present. Within each moment of transition there is a drop of infinity, a moment of magic that exists between creation and re-creation.
What we do during the transition is everything. One of the most potent gifts that we can offer ourselves is to dedicate ourselves to dharmic practices that empower us to live in a way that helps us to reclaim our truth and power.
Here are my eight go-to practices in times of uncertainty to stay grounded, balanced, and gain clarity and peace. If done consistently, these practices have the power of transformation.
1. Reframing your concept of rest is a gift in these times. Think of rest as part of your spiritual practice. Allow it to become a ritual that you carve out time for every day and that you approach with an essence of devotion and reverence. Set a rest alarm to remind yourself to rest twice daily. Take 10-minute rest breaks to lie down and do nothing. Notice the resistance that may arise from the feeling of not being productive.
2. Yoga nidra is a practice sequenced to systemically relax the body while the student lies down in a supine position. Known as yogic or conscious sleep, yoga nidra is often described as sleep with a slight trace of awareness. It is a spiritual practice where you are guided towards resting in spacious awareness. Research has shown that practitioners of yoga nidra can reach states of consciousness that resemble deep, dreamless sleep while remaining conscious of their surroundings. Students of yoga nidra report feeling deeply rested and rejuvenated after practicing for as little as 20 minutes.
3. Self-inquiry is one of the most powerful tools of spiritual practice despite often being overlooked. Self-inquiry asks you to unpack the beliefs that you hold dear, to dig deep and examine the motivations behind your actions, to ask the questions that lead you to the truth of who you are. That means you must first peel off the layers to discover who you are not.
You may start by asking:
- What stories am I repeatedly telling myself that keep me in a cycle of suffering?
- What lessons am I tired of learning?
- What can I start doing or stop doing to change negative patterns?
4. Creativity represents the full cycle of life. The process allows us to flow within the transitions and approach them with a sense of curiosity and play. Let go of a plan, let go of perfection, and tune into what inspires you: music, poetry, nature, dance, painting, writing. Get started by exploring these nine emotions: love, joy, fear, disgust, awe, peace, sorrow, anger, and courage. Spend two minutes expressing the emotion on paper as a poem, through movement, or as a piece of art. Then pause for one minute and be perfectly still; feel into the stillness. Then proceed to the next emotion until you are complete.
5. Embrace sacred dreaming, because the space between waking and sleeping is a powerful transition that is full of magic. Keep a dream journal by your bedside. Take a few minutes in the space between sleeping and waking to write down your dreams, writing whatever you remember, including images, fragrances, and words. You may want to explore lucid dreaming practices.
6. Breath awareness practices ask us to be aware of our breath. They can help us to observe transitions within. Lying on our back or in crocodile pose while practicing diaphragmatic breathing can be very revealing.
Try 1:1 ratio breath, with the inhale and exhale taking the same amount of time. Make the breath even on inhale and exhale. Smooth out the hitches and breaks in the breath. Feel the breath becoming smooth, quiet, and deep. Next, begin to notice the transition between the inhale and exhale. Gently start to eliminate the pause between the inhale and exhale until the breath becomes continuous, flowing in an unbroken stream. After five minutes, release the practice and remain still as you notice the effects.
7. Forgive, because when we hold back our forgiveness we find ourselves stuck amid transition, not being able to cross over. The lessons of our experience may remain undigested, leaving us unable to receive the wisdom that empowers us to move forward. We must cultivate more clarity, love, and discernment; forgiveness frees us from a self-imposed prison.
To get started: Decide who you most need to forgive. You may choose anyone, living or deceased. In a handwritten letter, detail what you forgive them for and explain why it is essential to forgive them. You do not require a response from the person you are forgiving. Decide if you would like to mail your letter or burn or bury it. Once you release this letter, you let go and step across the chasm to the other side. You can repeat this practice as many times as you need until you feel a shift.
8. Gratitude is the practice that amplifies everything in life. In every experience, in every moment, there is something to be grateful for. In the direst of times, gratitude can buoy our spirits and remind us of the sacredness of life. To get started:
- Write a list of five things that you are most grateful for today.
- Include a few positive things that have emerged as a direct result of your most challenging transition.
- Remind yourself to tell those who you are thankful for in your life how much you care about them.
What does it mean to be in transition? When we are in the midst of change, the only real answer is: We’ll see when we get to the other side. But the space between can be a portal to awakening.