Betwixt and Between: Liminal Space
On the threshold of spring equinox and another change of season, check in with yourself –where are you stagnant? Feeling resistance? Where are you joyous? Are you beginning to feel the life force flowing stronger again, just as the sap in the sugar maples has begun to run, with sweetness and nourishment.
I’ve had a particular fascination with liminal space in the past 4 months. This space between endings and a new beginning. Simply letting myself lean in, allow and explore. Sometimes we find ourselves there, through no choice of our own. Leading gently with meditation and reflection as the tools to ask ourselves, ‘how does it feel to navigate psychological liminal space?’
What am I even talking about you ask?
Liminal is latin for threshold. In architectural terms it is spaces between; doorways, hallways –places of transit or holding. Liminal space refers to a place or person enduring a transitional phase or period. It refers also to rites of passage –anthropologically and psychologically. Marriage, divorce, childless to a child born, death--passages from one place to another—moving, uprooting, unemployment, graduating......
they are times with associated rituals and markers...
New Year’s eve and Birthdays among them.
It’s a gap. In physical form like a doorway, or a hallway that explores transition, or emotional/psychological like a divorce or a death, or metaphysical like a decision.
It’s also a gap, such as the ethereal space between your inhalation and exhalation. A profound part of the breath cycle, when you tap in deeply. Make peace with this space. Breathe more fully into this space.
This is also where metamorphosis happens.
Everything has a beginning, middle and end. Where are you most comfortable? Familiar? It can be unsettling when we are at a place during a time that's not routine. Unknown. Uncertain. The in-between. Out of the comfort zone.
This ‘betwixt and between’ can be unsettling.
The in-between a completion cycle and a new beginning, can often feel like you are suspended. Ungrounded. Even stalled, or stagnant. Expectant...perhaps even a forlorn atmosphere filled with nostalgic notes, full of the energy of both longing and letting go. The liminal space between ‘what was’ and ‘what’s next’.
Liminality: In essence, the experience of early pandemic was a global suspension in liminal space. Society was disorganized and overwhelmed, rife with uncertainty.
There is a psychological need to accord space, time and place for liminal feeling. (Although we often don’t).
As such, there are two main risks associated with liminal space – we either provide no ritual space at all in our lives to digest and integrate’-- or....we stay in it too long. Stuck.
Our cultural tendency is to bypass it altogether, speeding along as we do to the next thing. Ignoring our gnawing feelings and compartmentalizing to a fault.
Take an extra long exhale here.
Check in with yourself.
Do you tend to just, ‘push on’?
Twilight is a perfect example of liminal time –between day and night, emblematic of the middle ground between light and shadow. The polarity of light and shadow ties well to the tension between nostalgia, longing and letting go--
any liminal space requires transitional processing of the individual or group.
If liminal space then, is the space between one destination and the next—(an airport is the architectural holding tank of this concept)—how can you bring more acknowledgement and awareness to whatever passage you yourself are traversing? Completion of a cycle, likely comes with some grief and joy, the old compliment of mixed emotions. Even an ordinary heartfelt goodbye at an airport is usually layered.
Take an extra long exhale here. Check-in with yourself.
Allow. Allow. Allow.
Allow the breath to unleash feelings otherwise being swept away or hidden. These thresholds are significant in our lives, yet also mysterious. Unnerving. Allow the noticing; The honouring of this passage.
Why do we have so much trouble taking deep breaths?
Speed. Tension. Distraction. Overwhelm.
Are you good at taking time for digestion, acknowledgement and processing of cycles?
This space is a tenuous passage in which transformation is allowed to take place.
Allow. Allow. Allow.
At times it can be rough as in the play, “Waiting for Godot,” the characters vacillate between hope and hopelessness. It is a waiting period but different, as only through a condition of liminality can we often finally see the way forward.
If you’re feeling betwixt and between, simply embrace it and allow.