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Making Smooth Transitions

Echinacea in Thyme Herbal gardensWe are making transitions constantly in our lives. Some are small like the transition out of bed in the morning or from one task to the next.  Others are big like a move or a new relationship. Some can feel big or small depending on our emotional experience. For example, the transition from your mode of transportation into your work building could feel simple and straightforward or wrought with tension and anxiety.

My relationship with transitions has changed since becoming a mom. I am going through a transition of my own (one of those big life transitions that finds you on the other side of a threshold) and I have also become acutely aware of how my actions and the rhythm of our day affect how smoothly or not all the little transitions go for Ida (now 1 year old).   In other words, I am going through a big life transition while my little life changer teaches me about the power and importance of making all those little, everyday transitions go smoothly!

Speaking of big transitions, Ida is undoubtedly going through a huge life transition of her own – getting to know an unknown world and experiencing the joy and insecurity associated with learning things for the first time. Which is exactly the point – the more unknown our lives are, the harder transitions are. As a caregiver to an infant you learn quickly that the more of a rhythm you have, the more routine, regularity, continuity, etc. that there is, the smoother transitions go for the little one (and ultimately for you!). When they know what to expect and what will come next, it helps to put them at ease and allows them to more deeply relax into the moment. A daily rhythm and associated routines help to make small transitions within the day go smoothly while simultaneously providing a container of security and continuity that makes larger life transitions feel more manageable.

I think there are two important lessons here for us adults. The first is to stop and think about how caring for our basic needs in a regular way can shift our lives. And the other is to see how a basic, regular routine can actually keep us in the moment rather than future tripping in our minds. When we follow regular routines in our daily life our body and mind can be at ease. With our basic needs met, our stress response is soothed and our mind, body and spirit can relax. That constant chatter of “what’s next,” and “what did I forget?,” and “how will I do it?,” is soothed because you know there is time for these tasks built into the rhythm of the day – you will cross those bridges of remembering and how and why when the time comes. This leaves you to be in the moment and possibly to even enjoy making breakfast, washing dishes, traveling to work, doing laundry…

I enjoy the rhythm and the routine of my days with Ida. While Ida naps I have a different sort of routine and agenda in mind – caring for needs like housekeeping and work. My routine looks something like this – putter (AKA clean and tidy up/organize), care for my basic needs (if I didn’t get to eating or peeing before naptime, do that now), and then get my work done. Between each one of these activities is a mental and emotional transition – each activity activating a different energy in my mind, body and spirit. Puttering and cooking use active energy, but when I sit down to eat or if I sit down to work (which might look like writing an article or this blog post) I want to be able to be present and I will likely need to activate that quiet, introspective, wise voice in my head.

Today, while I was doing the dishes, the last step before sitting down to write, I could see and feel that I was facing a transition. I knew that if I didn’t shift my energy I was going to have difficulty focusing and some form of “writer’s block.” Before I knew it I was practicing “dish washing meditation.”  I was using the task as an opportunity to make the transition by slowing down, calling in the quiet, meditating on the soap and the running water and the egg yolk stuck to the side of the plate. As my mind and spirit made this necessary transition I felt the inspiration begin to bubble up inside me and I sat down to write with my inner voice active and alive. I knew what to expect, I harnessed the moment, I became fully present – transition accomplished.

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