Why retreat & reflect during times of transition?

During times of transitions we often experience deep emotions that are running whether we’re aware of them or not. I am developing an appreciation of the deeper layers of transitions. Circumstances become the catalyst for a deeper process to be engaged.

A greater call of growth & evolution exists for us individually & collectively when facing a transition. This greater/deeper call can sit outside of our day to day awareness. On the surface we’ve lost our job, or maybe we’ve chosen to leave it & begin something new; a relationship ends; a new one begins; our experience of health shifts for ourselves or a loved one.

Have you ever wondered if there is more at play for you in this current transition?

This wondering I’ve discovered opens a doorway into an invitation to engage a deeper process.

What does it mean to engage a deeper process?

Well, for me it’s about expanding my view of the transitions I’m facing. Stretching my thinking beyond the surface, details & presenting problems. This deeper process is often filled with questioning our emotional & attitudinal landscapes of beliefs, attitudes & perceptions. Some traditions call these initiations. I like to view these types of transitions as gateways of healing.

Healing at its roots is about wholeness. A vast journey of a lifetime. Transitions seek our participation. Participation that is holistic in nature. Participation that honours the and of our nature. Feminine & masculine (beyond gender).

So how do we know if the transition we’re facing is encoded with initiations of our becoming? Maybe all transitions are? What’s the value of entertaining this perspective?

Here lives the value of experimenting with retreat & reflection. The answers to this level of inquiry will not be answered in a book, blog or advice from another. Rather this level of inquiry invites a dialogue with our inner self. Our wise curious nature that has shephered us to this moment, this transition.

Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.

Margaret J. Wheatley

Distraction & Discomfort

For many of us, when the discomfort of confusion & uncertainty arises, we seek to distract. Distraction is quite easy to choose these days. Yes, there are times when distraction can be supportive. And times when it becomes our only pathway of relief. When this happens, I’ve discovered growth stalls. The process awaiting our participation stalls. Once again, this can be just fine. Timing & our rhythm of change is a deeply personal dance.

And, when we’re willing & ready to embrace the fullness of transition, cultivating the practices of retreat & reflection can become our new best friends. They each in their own way offer us a reminder to listen deeply. A skill that many of us struggle with as a result of our cultural conditioning & contextual living today. This deep listening helps us to connect with ourselves just as we are. To connect with the force of life that imbues everything.

Retreat & Reflection

Consider retreat as a verb. To step back; to pause; to engage our inherent feminine (not gender) nature of dropping inside. Of turning inward. A valid action to choose to engage with compassion. Our life is inherently masculine (not gender) in nature. It’s solely become about productivity and action. 

When things feel hard, or we’re faced with a problem we invest a vast amount of energy in taking action (thinking & doing). What are we doing? What do I do? What do I think I “should do”? What do you think I “should” do? These conversations take place inside & out, constantly. 

We rarely ask another (or ourselves), how are you being? How are you really feeling? What feels most integral to you right now? What could serve the highest good for all involved?

In learning, reflection is a critical component of evaluating what is or isn’t working. The act of reflection comes from the Latin reflexio; an act of bending back. Reflection has an important role in looking back. And, reflection also exists in the here AND now.

Reflection lives in our relationship. In many ways life itself is a reflection. A bending back of our light. How often do we consider what it is inviting us to consider?

Our willingness to reflect more deeply on our experience of transitions can illuminate an invisible framework that shapes our lives.

I love how Dr. Joe Dispenza describes the cascade that automatically runs our experiences (whether we’re facing a transition or not).

Take a moment and reflect on this quote.

Your thoughts and feelings come from your past memories. If you think and feel a certain way, you begin to create an attitude. An attitude is a cycle of short-term thoughts and feelings experienced over and over again. Attitudes are shortened states of being. If you string a series of attitudes together, you create a belief. Beliefs are more elongated states of being and tend to become subconscious. When you add beliefs together, you create a perception. Your perceptions have everything to do with the choices you make, the behaviors you exhibit, the relationships you chose, and the realities you create.

Joe Dispenza, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter

Reflection can become a practice that lives in each moment of our days. And there is a quality of reflection that invites a deeper journey in. This quality of reflection is supported by times of retreat.

Retreat Qualities

The level of retreat I am speaking of, is space and time that is rich with stillness & silence. An intention held with honouring where you are. Not driven to understand where you’ve been or figure out where you’re going. There is time for this level of inquiry, and the quality of retreat to help us evolve during times of transition has a simpler, less strategic (masculine), more nourishing (feminine) essence.

Creating space to invite all of you, your emotions, thoughts, feelings, dreams, sensation to flow. To be witnessed & honoured. To be curious about the inner truth that whispers through our being. To challenge the fears that fuel self-limitation. To entertain new information that stretches our tightly held views of who & what we are.

Wherever you are right now with your transition, trust it’s perfect. The majesty of the fullness of it seeks your participation.

During moments where I am lost in the masculine pursuit of strategy or stuck in the story of what was, I remind myself of Pema Chodron’s great invitation to…

begin where you are.

In addition, here are three invitations to experiment with.

Three Invitations

Create space for stillness & silence. Create space each day for no other purpose than to sit in silence & reflect. Reflect on where you are; what you’re thinking & feeling. This space isn’t about problem solving; rather an invitation to presence yourself fully. Period.

Practice body & breath awareness. Start to pay attention to your body. Notice sensations in your body throughout the day. Simply start to be aware of when you’re feely open or contracted. Note where in your body you’re sensing this. Image space around the bodily sensations present in the now. Bring an attitude of participation. Breath awareness. Yes, begin notice how you breathe. When are you sighing? When are you holding your breath? Make note of what is happening. We often spend so much of our life breathing shallow. Bracing life with our breath. Unaware of it’s powerful influence on our inner & outer experience. Experiment with re-designing your relationship with breath. Learn about breath. Practice working with it. Here is a great free resource you can start using today.

Ask bigger questions. The quality of our life, and indeed our experience of engaging the fullness of transitions live in the courage of our questions, not the clarity of our answers. This is for me the greatest lesson I am learning in my own journey & relationship with transitions.

This requires a willingness to stay with a question. To live it; to be with it. Questions like, What do I really believe? What is it I most value? What am I being guided to release, to let go of? Who else do I have the potential to become? How might I best serve?

Consider selecting a question to live with for the coming weeks. Roll around in it. Dream about it. Listen.

And…remember you do not need to travel alone.