How Are You Welcoming Transformation in 2021?

Lately, I’ve been in a very interesting place. A place I consider almost mystical. It’s simultaneously internal and expansive. Inside this place, I can feel myself surrendering to a greater intelligence than I have words for.

As I take the time to intentionally reconnect with my body, mind, and spirit—in such a way that I’m fully connected to my intuitive voice and my awareness of how I want to show up in the world—a lot of beautiful signs have begun to reveal themselves to me. 

For one thing, I recently met a medicine woman who helped me recognize my desire to align with my inner knowing. In the last year, I’ve been in a space of powerfully reconnecting with my intuition—no matter how wonky or irrational it may seem—so that I can embody my values with greater integrity rather than simply reacting to whatever crops up in my life.

transformation

It was my intuition that led me to this woman, who lives in the heart of the desert in Arizona, where I’ve been spending my time lately. I came across her by chance (on a television show about the power of healing—and using our own kitchens as the jumping-off point); when I looked her up, I realized she was just down the road from me. Coincidence? No—more like a major synchronicity!

I can still feel the excitement and anticipation in my body as I drove down a narrow dirt road and into a vast expanse of desert that stretched out in all directions. As I pulled up to the medicine woman’s house, I passed beneath an archway—a powerful symbol that let me know I was moving out of “ordinary” reality and into sacred space. 

Throughout my session with her, in which I was led through a series of potent rituals, the sense that I was in a deep place of inner and outer metamorphosis was clear. The card she asked me to pull at the beginning of the session didn’t come as a surprise to me: In it, a woman gazed out into the distance, a butterfly in her hair.

Just like the woman, I could feel my heart opening in the direction of transformation. I knew I was ready to dive deep, and even if the movement inward might take a while, I felt assured that I’d eventually emerge from the darkness with the light of my heart’s compass leading the way.

Entering the Void

Transformation can be a beautiful catalyst for new realizations. We’ve all had ground-breaking experiences from which we emerged dramatically changed. Sometimes this can be a huge relief (for instance, I’m so ready to move into cronehood and the next phase of my life right now!), and other times it can cause us to clench and tighten, to resist where the transformation will take us…because we innately associate change with annihilation and death. For many people, myself included, change can also be something we hurtle into at full speed, totally focused on the doing and achieving instead of slowing down long enough to feel what’s happening. 

However, I believe that in order to welcome change, we need to settle into it. This means that we neither get caught up in the “doing” nor do we stagnate in the refusal to move forward. We actually allow ourselves to stay for a while in the void—that space of nothingness and inactivity where everything is pure potential but none of it has been manifested yet. I like to think of it as the space between the contractions when a woman is in labor. 

Real and lasting change requires the willingness to step into this void, where we are not flailing around in either activity or denial. Instead, we allow ourselves to clearly perceive our beliefs, as well as how we’re being, so that our decisions are informed by a deep sense of emotional honesty and integrity with ourselves. 

This way, we don’t just go through the motions and repeat old patterns; we give ourselves space to repattern who we are.

The Liminal Space

Just like the mystery of the caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, true transformation happens in the darkness of the liminal space. 

What is liminal space? 

Liminality is all about the major in-between moments. The word liminal means “threshold.” It can relate to a transition from childhood to adulthood, the time between wounding and healing, the state between struggle and release. 

We are in liminal time right now—definitely in our world today, and in our own lives.

Liminal time is definitely full of challenges, and it’s not always pretty. At the same time, it’s where we actually discover who we are and what we are made of. It’s where we find our resilience. In this period, old habits, beliefs, and hallmarks of personal identity fall apart. This is the chrysalis stage between the caterpillar and the butterfly. Here, the old structure has been lost and the new structure has not yet formed.

Understandably, this can be an unnerving and scary time, especially if it lasts for any length of time. You are letting go of the past but have no idea what the future holds. So you might feel uncertain, disoriented, lonely, and vulnerable.

Take a moment to think of a time you were in a liminal space and things felt very uncertain. You might even be in a liminal space now. When an example comes to mind, use the exercise below, which is meant to give you a felt sense of welcoming this time in the void.

Allow yourself to stand if that feels comfortable, so you have space to let your body move. It’s okay to have your eyes closed if that helps you to tune in. Now, slowly take yourself back into that liminal time, almost as if it’s happening now. 

Know that it’s safe to be here. Notice what’s happening. Notice any feelings and sensations of ambiguity and lack of clarity. Let yourself be here. With your inner senses, feel what this state is like. Maybe there is darkness. Or a soft light. Perhaps it’s very, very quiet. Or very loud. Perhaps your body and emotions feel disoriented, like you’re trying to find a comfortable position, or you feel slightly off balance. What are some of the fears or frustrations that are coming up? What are your relationships like? Are things turbulent on the surface? Under the surface? As you are in this process of change, what is it like for you? How do you react? 

Now, shift to the opportunity that might be available in this place. Notice the wisdom of your liminal self. Let that liminal self speak. What is one thing it wants to share with you from this place? It might be an unexpected piece of wisdom. Or advice. Or just reassurance. Now, let your body naturally move into a shape or gesture that holds the essence of your liminal self and its wisdom. Don’t force it. Just let your body move as it wants to, prompted by the wisdom that is present here. 

This gesture will help you to hold and remember the amazing resilience that you have always had…mirrored in your incredible capacity to be in the in-between and to find beautiful possibilities there. Possibilities that will ultimately inform what’s next for you.

The Power of Slowing Down

The exercise above might feel uncomfortable for you, and maybe you’re even wondering what its ultimate purpose really is. The thing is, liminal space isn’t about muscling through or coming up with reasons, explanations, and next steps. 

After all, transformation isn’t just about making a decision and sticking to it; sure, you can do that, but your decision is most likely going to come from patterns that characterize your past rather than ones that welcome your future. 

Cultivating resilience in the face of change requires slowing down, being with, and feeling ourselves. It may sound difficult, but it’s ultimately a deeply compassionate and feminine approach that allows us to surrender to and trust the process.  

Our attitudes toward transformation require rethinking. For me, transformation needs to happen in a more authentic and intuitive way, based on the wisdom arising from this present moment. For example, I’ve been in a liminal space for quite some time now that has helped me clarify that the new manifestation of my work is less about engaging with large groups of women and more about entering into a deeper, slower, more intimate process, for both myself and others. 

That’s why I created CHRYSALIS: An 8-Week Group for Emerging Into Your Messy Brilliance. This new offering is the result of asking myself lots of questions in the last year: Where am I going from here? What will it be like to return to some state of normal? Is that even possible? Who will I be when all of this is over?

I am offering CHRYSALIS as much for myself as for other women. Transformation requires care and the willingness to create supportive containers for ourselves that encourage all aspects of growth—the beauty and the messiness! So this eight-week program (which has very limited spots, since I want to keep it small and intimate) is for the woman who’s ready to cocoon, dive deep, and emerge into the next phase of her life with greater clarity and authenticity. It’s for the woman who is innately resilient and who knows that, even when slowing down feels uncomfortable, it’s one of the most powerful things we can do for meaningful, and lasting, change.

Registration for CHRYSALIS ends May 13. Find out more about CHRYSALIS here.

About the Author | Kelly McNelis

Kelly McNelis is the founder of global community, Women for One, a speaker, coach, facilitator, and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. With more than 25 years of experience as a nonprofit and small-business consultant, Kelly empowers generations of women around the world to build the relationships, community, and confidence they need to achieve their wildest dreams. She finds daily inspiration in spending time with her husband and children in her home outside of Seattle.

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