Times of Transition

The aftermath of a long stint at Bentley has me thinking about the challenges of transition times in our lives, particularly those that take reserves of patience and perseverance. Some situations seemingly drag on and on: relationship breakups, recovery from illness, living arrangements, elderly care… situations with landlords or neighbours, bullying and abuse, property boundaries. Like these sorts of ongoing situations, just as we hang up the towel on Bentley, we start to hear news that the suspension may soon be lifted and that they are coming back any day now to do earthworks. We can’t relax just yet!

The challenge can be huge to manage the ongoing stress and aggravation that can accompany these circumstances. There are the ripple effects that can be compounded when children are in the picture, financial entanglements, change of residences, lack of employment and so forth.

We think we have almost resolved a situation and yet on it goes; it can be very difficult to find a good stable balance once again. Sometimes, just as we leave one stressful situation, we find ourselves in another. Just as we are getting over that relationship breakup, or the move to a new property, a new challenge pops up – illness, financial hardship, family problems…or Metgasco standing up in the ring once again with its latest boxing gloves on and ready!

This can be very disheartening indeed. An individual can feel that she is being tested by the circumstances in her life. He may bemoan, “Can it get any worse than this?”

In Louise Hay style, we can look at how we play a role in the situation we are in. In my work as a therapist, I work with clients to identify recurring patterns such as an ongoing feeling of being betrayed by one’s friends. Perhaps this pattern relates to something in the past and upon seeing this more clearly, the individual can begin to try out new behaviours that break the old habits.

Perhaps in looking at our role in the energy crisis that we are facing, the danger of having the Northern Rivers (and all of Australia) turned into an industrialised gasfield, we can see our habitual dependence upon fossil fuels and we can look towards lessening our own personal footprint. This is difficult indeed as we are so deeply embedded and were born into an industrial machine that literally feeds off of environmental destruction. This global multi-generational trauma has taken a huge toll on indigenous nations worldwide as well as the precious ecosystems of this era.

It can help to reflect on the past and how it impacts the present as we humans do learn from our errors, albeit sometimes not until they knock us over the head! Looking backwards can sometimes help us to understand our current behaviours both personal as well as cultural and social.

However, more importantly perhaps, I work with clients – and in my own life – to be relaxed in the current situation no matter how difficult it is. This requires an acceptance of the feelings that arise – anger, frustration, grief, despair – and noticing the thoughts that accompany these feelings as well as the body sensations: a tightness in the throat, a gripping feeling in the stomach, a fast beating heart. We work to just be with whatever is there, aware of the feelings in the body. Not working to shift them. Aware of the thoughts that arise and then fall again like waves and noticing the moments between that are clear and calm. And then back to the sensations in the body, the tightness in the chest or jaw, the warmth or the ache in the heart, the tingling in the palms and feet. Not judging this. Just being with what is.

It can be difficult to take the time to relax and be with our feeling, sensations and thoughts about the breakup of our marriage, the accident we could have avoided, our dismal financial situation or the gasfields spreading across Australia, the rampant destruction of the Earth and so on. Yet, this is how it is now and the more we can be with how things are and feel our feelings, the more we will be clear headed and be able to move forwards connected to our hearts, our hands and our heads.

These transition times are difficult and sure, some run to India and seek spiritual teaching. Others jump directly into another relationship or the next job. But as we all know, you simply cannot run away from yourself. If we can drop into the time of change, tired as we may be or perhaps lacking in direction, this can be a time of self-care, grounding and renewal, perhaps even sweet relief from the previous difficult situation.

This is a time to let go of that which has not been working well for us. It is a time to put in place better structures in our personal lives. In our campaign work, it is a time to evaluate and reflect and begin to implement improved ways of working together. It is a time to strengthen vision and continue to build the movement to heights that it has never before reached.

It is a great fortune that we share a strong vision as a community, a vision of clean water, fertile land and a future for our children that we can be proud of. This vision has a palpable force that unites us and gives us a momentum. It is a love of life, a love of the Earth and as Che Guevara once said, “Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.” It is these strong feelings that will guide us through these difficult times, that will guide us forwards. All we must do is trust in our inner voice. As John Lennon said, “All you need is love.”

Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, “You owe Me.”
Look what happens with a Love like that, It lights the whole sky.
                           – Hafiz –




About Ruth R

psychotherapist, eco-counsellor director of Rainforest Information Centre environmental and social justice work breathing
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