That night, I couldn’t sleep. Blame it on the New Moon. The transition from one lunar cycle to another just happened to be perfectly synchronized with what was going on in my life.
The day before, I had spent the whole yin part of my yoga practice crying. For the first time in the last couple of weeks, I was letting go, releasing all the accumulated tension from the highly emotional events I’ve been through.
Suddenly, a huge wave of compassion came my way. Only in that moment was I finally able to realize how much things were moving, how fast I was growing, and how shaken my ego was.
There is nothing wrong with my ego (by ego, I mean that part of me which keeps on trying to define who I am for this life span). It is only trying to serve its purpose, which is to keep me safe and alive. My ego, probably just like yours, is scared most of the time. What if we move forward? What if we leave the comfort of our nest? What if you suffer some more?
My ego, which is probably BFF with the left part of my brain, likes coherence. He seeks clarity. He likes things to be square. He wants the pieces of the puzzle to fit together, the thread to be common, the path to be straight. He wants to know what is going to happen, when it’s going to happen, so that he can control how I am going to feel throughout the whole thing and make sure that I will not go through any sort of suffering.
I’m outgrowing my ego these days. The red alarm is on. My ego is yelling at me, “What are you doing man? STOP” and I haven’t been listening at all. Which is not nice. I’ve been getting closer and closer to my intuition, and listening its whisper in my ear. The pain of not listening to it right now is bigger than the pain of expanding. The way it’s showing me is so enlightened it’s scary. It’s also so not related to what I was expecting in my life that my ego cannot handle it right now. I know I have to sit still and meditate more, but my ego is keeping me from doing it, scared to death of that woo-woo hippie witch I’ll become if I keep on connecting with the Universe.
If all those inspirational quotes on Instagram are right, then I simply have to tell my fear to shut the f*ck up, and never look back. Honestly? I don’t think it works. I’d rather follow Liz Gilbert’s advice and be friends with that scary part of myself, allowing fear to be a guide and a companion. To let it sit in my car, but only on the back seat. Accepting fear on this road trip with me.
In fact, I don’t think we have any other choice. Fear, stress, and all other unpleasant emotional states, are there to remind us of our way, and how we really want to feel in our lives. It makes the other days brighter. It tells us so much the roadblocks that we create for ourselves. I truly believe we have to first listen to what it has to say and then reassure it, instead of pushing it aside.
However, to be able to use all those emotions properly, we have to learn to manage our transitions. In yoga, we learn that the transitions are as important as the asanas themselves. As Colleen Saidman says, “Transitions between poses are the most difficult time to stay focus and mindful. They are the times when people often get hurt”.
What is true on the mat is true off the mat. If I was not to listen to my ego telling me he had enough (yes, my ego is a man), I might get hurt in the long run. Even if I am evolving with a clear and pure intention to follow the path my intuition is guiding me through, I can’t simply avoid the fact that my ego is part of the ride too.
In big transitions, you’ll often find yourself stuck in the middle, between the ego that is clinging to the past and the known and your intuition that is always ready for the next big adventure. How to reconcile both? Jess Lively suggests something I find brilliant. If the default mode for the ego is to hold on to one identity, then we can make sure that this definition of ourselves is so broad that it will allow us to move from one adventure to the other. She proposes we identify ourselves as growth-seeking beings, defining growth as something new that will expand our field of what is known.
Isn’t it liberating? I am not longer stuck in the small definition of myself as a communications advisor, Master’s student, potential yoga teacher. I am allowed to try pretty much everything, as long as it feels expansive, nourishing and brings me joy.
Remember though that the ego will hang onto any identity it was able to form in the past. You have to take your time to allow yourself to release and embrace what is coming up. I find it so helpful to incorporate this mindfulness about transitions in my day-to-day. Managing transitions is key to high performance, as Brendon Burchard found out studying high achievers for more than three years. The trick? When done with one task, before moving on the other, release tension and set your intention. Let’s say I am writing this blog post. Before moving on with reading an article about alignment, I take one minute to breathe, repeating to myself “Release” like a mantra. Then I set my intention and get into action.
It works in pretty much any context: transitioning from one task to another, from one yoga posture to another, from work to home. I even find it works in the short 10 seconds I have in between two sets of intervals in my HIIT. Releasing of whatever you thought, whatever you felt, to be fully present in the now.
In case you need a reminder, look up at the sky. The Moon is always there to remind you that everything is always evolving, going through a cycle, transitioning from one phase to the other. Allow that ebb and flow to guide you, having faith that no matter what, your true core, your essence, will always be the same: you are a growth-seeking being, a part of this expansive Universe, a miracle.