Simply said, the purpose of transition time is to let go of what no longer works and prepare for something new. We must work through old stuff and at the same time come up with ideas for the next phase in our life. As a consequence, our feelings about past and future tend to overlap; this can be overwhelming and keep us stuck in limbo.
How can we break through this impasse?
We can start with being more present. If we focus our attention on the present moment, we can experience some distance from our feelings about the past and future. This will free up space not only in our mind for original thoughts, but also in our heart for a new way of relating to ourselves and the world around us.
Furthermore, when we are present, we connect with the unique opportunity that each moment brings. This is especially helpful when we are in transition, being challenged to review and renew our lives. Even more so because, when our old life is slipping away and a new one has yet to start, the present moment is really all we have.
When we rush from moment to moment, we remain skimming the surface of our life experience. We miss out on the depth that is always available. We could be chasing after our life purpose, and not see how it is already showing up. Or continue recreating a copy of what we know. We might, for instance, be leaving a job or relationship only to end up in one that is basically the same as the one we had before.
To be present does not mean we just blissfully sit in contentment, passively going with the flow of things. Presence is a very active state of being in which we allow life to come to us. We grasp the messages in unexpected encounters or a piece of writing. The smallest occurrence can shift our perspective or bring a life-altering insight. A person close-by becomes a mirror for self-reflection, our thoughts and feelings a source for learning.
When the present moment becomes central to our life, the past and future dynamic shifts as well. The past changes into the foundation from which we create our future, step-by-step, through action and awareness in the present.
Furthermore, if we’re fully engaged with each moment, we can focus on what comes up without too much judgement. We can acknowledge that what we feel is real and valid, but also let it go because we don’t need to connect these feelings to past happenings or future expectations.
Imagine how liberating that is.
When our feelings no longer dictate our outlook, new ideas can bubble up more freely. Free from the pull of past and future, we can relax into who we are and appreciate events and people for what and who they are. We’re free to interpret our life differently and explore what else is possible.
If we remain open and allow life to present itself, we are more likely to experience it more intensely too. There could be a stronger sense of being alive. We will bring more awareness to every experience, ideally refraining from labelling anything as good or bad.
All of the above of course requires practice, at least for most of us. Don’t beat yourself up if you find initially that you cannot step into the experience of being present so easily. As in meditation or any new discipline, just keep bringing yourself back each time you wander off.
In transition, to be in the present moment is a tool for more fully embracing the reasons why we are changing and becoming open to what lies ahead.
Transitions are periods of playful creation and reflection. An ideal time to be a student again, to discover and experiment with new ways of being, deepening our experience of the full spectrum of life. There’s no better time to practice being in the present than right now.
In fact, one way to look at transition is that being present in the now is precisely its purpose.
Jacinta Hin was born in the Netherlands and has been living in Tokyo, Japan, since 1989. Her professional background is in human resources, career management and coaching. She is passionate about helping people, herself included, discover new perspectives of possibility, move to embracing and working with their transitions, and designing and realizing changes aligned with who they truly are and what they truly want from their lives.