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When Transitions Become a Lifestyle and Agency Finds its Place

Changing colored leaves.

Why learn how to navigate transitions when everywhere around us transitions happen naturally? Never does a tree seek out a therapist to help it transition from autumn to winter. Day does not fear the inevitability of night. The moon does not grieve the loss of fullness when it’s time to wane and even though parents may choose to get involved with their child’s transition from horizontal to vertical by attempting to teach them to stand or step, the process is already fated. Walking happens whether the parent intrudes or not.

What if we don’t need to learn how to navigate transitions?

Instead, why not discover how to be in right relationship with our inner landscape and how to adjust our attitude towards change? The term navigate implies that we can exercise some sort of control or influence over the road ahead; we lead ourselves to believe that we might be able to avoid what we don’t want or to imagine we can intentionally manifest our preferences.

Though there are many self-help and new age formulas claiming to teach the secrets of how to, in ten steps or less, manifest our desires and dreams, I prefer to orient towards the dynamic relationship between our inner and outer life, cultivating a healthy response to what is, while being receptive to what might be.

This is a lifestyle adjustment.

Take the breath, for example.

Ever notice the inevitability of the exhale after the inhale and the inhale after the exhale? And what about the point where the turning happens… where the inhale peaks just before carbon dioxide exits the body… or where the exhale pauses just before filling again?

Take a breath right now and see if you can pause at the transitions for a second or two. Hold the breath if you’d like. If you pay close attention, you’ll see that here is where your will has permission to partake.

In the pause, you can hold back or push forward: however, short of suicide, you cannot alter the inevitability of breathing. You might choose to inhale something other than oxygen for a period of time, giving you the sensation of control, but eventually oxygen will take over. Or you might bemoan the fact that your breathing is stifled by mucus from a cold and claim victimhood. Regardless of your interjections, within the natural parameters of breathing you cannot change breath’s fate.

It’s in the natural order of things for inhaling and exhaling to happen. Until it does not.

I love engaging with my students in an embodied exploration of the architecture of transitions. We explore how we resist the natural way of things and turn a deaf ear to the profound whispering of fate, such as the inevitability of breathing. We increase our awareness of the voices inside that run an exhaustive commentary on how we are doing or not doing life correctly. Through increased self awareness we turn the volume down on the commentary and turn it up on the awareness of our unfolding destiny. Selfistry provides a practice platform for cultivating agility and creativity in regard to our engagement with the life we have.

If all of life is is one transition after the next from birth to death, how do you choose to exert your personal will in navigating transitions? Resistance, criticism, and control, or creativity, awareness, and surrender?

I’ll venture the claim that, if we have any free will at all, it is solely in this regard.

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