Blog by Alan Seale, May 30, 2022, | Intentional Living
As the Summer Solstice approaches here in New England, we continue to live in unsettling times. Many people seem to be in transition or feel like they are floating in a liminal space. Change is everywhere, yet what comes next is not clear. The summer can be a good time to slow down and reflect: Where are you now and where are you going? In this article, I offer six guiding questions for clarity and focus.
Some of these questions may not be ones you expect for such an inquiry. The Transformational Presence approach is not about “figuring it out.” We approach topics in ways that are both exploratory and reflective, linear and direct, while at the same time nimble, supple, and fluid. It’s all about discovery, expanding awareness, curiosity, intention, and purpose, leading to more aligned choices, decisions, and actions. Insights and clarity almost always emerge.
You may choose to consider these six questions together in one exercise. Or you might prefer to reflect on a single question each day for six days. Trust your own sense of what is right for you. Give yourself the time you need. Write, walk, meditate, or whatever is most helpful to you. Let the questions and your inner wisdom guide you.
So here we go.
Question #1—What are you learning at this time in your life?
“At this time” might mean this week or this month or this year. Chapters of our lives are sometimes short, sometimes long. Your soul is on a learning journey for your whole life. What are you learning in this chapter?
Notice that the question is not “What are you doing?” or “What are your challenges or opportunities?” The question is “What are you learning?”
Asking “What are you learning?” can help you step beyond judgment and value—beyond what you like or don’t like, want or don’t want. Many of us have our own agendas for where we want to be or what we want to be doing. However, sometimes what we want is not, in fact, what is happening.
Starting your exploration from the perspective of learning can help you stretch beyond attachments to wants and desires, be present where you are with less judgment, and discover a next step. It can expand the context of your inquiry. It invites a broader spectrum of awareness about what this time in your life is about in the big picture.
After some reflection, refine the question further: What are you learning about yourself?
This refinement may bring further insights into where you are in your personal journey, as well as how your personal journey fits into the larger context of your family, your company, or larger societal circumstances and situations.
Take your time with this first question before moving on.
Question #2—If you are fully honest with yourself, what step forward is it now time to take?
Staying with your insights from question #1, what next step is your “learning” asking you for? It may or may not be a big action step. Sometimes the next step is an inner shift—a shift of being or perspective—a shift in “presence” or how you are showing up. Or a next step forward might be to have a conversation, or to say yes to an opportunity, or to be willing to be more present with a challenge than you ever have been, or something else.
Notice that the question asks for “a next step,” not two or three or ten. If two or three or ten steps happen to become clear and you are ready to take them, then go for it. However, this question is not about creating pressure or intimidation. It’s about recognizing the next step that is ready to unfold, and then taking that step. It may or not be comfortable; that’s not the point. It’s the next step, and you realize that it’s time—now.
Stay with the question until you are ready to move on.
Question #3—What is not yet ready for movement?
You may sense some next steps that are waiting for you, yet your inner wisdom tells you that now is not the time to take those steps. Perhaps there are some pieces that haven’t yet come together. Or maybe you have jumped ahead too quickly, and you are being asked to slow down. It could be that something needs to settle a bit more within you before next steps are taken. Or maybe those next steps are stretching you farther beyond your comfort zone than you can imagine going. It’s ok. Drop down deeper to get a better understanding about why it’s not yet time.
Be honest with yourself. Recognize what is true and what isn’t, what is ready and what isn’t. Get quiet. Listen, sense, feel. What needs to happen in the situation before you take the next step? And what needs to shift within you? Give yourself time and space to make that shift. It’s not necessarily about waiting until you are fully at ease—that may or may not ever happen. Instead, it’s about sensing the moment when you know deep in the heart of your being that it is, in fact, time to move. And reaching a place inside where you are pretty sure you can do it. At that moment, you summon the courage and take the step.
This can be a sensitive consideration. This question asks you to recognize that the timeline you are comfortable with may not be the same as the timeline of what is happening. Sometimes we prepare ourselves as much as we can, yet in the end, the moment comes when we must take steps beyond our comfort zone whether or not we think we are ready. Life doesn’t always happen on our terms.
Again, give yourself time.
Question #4—What is asking you to, in fact, take a step back?
This is not a common question in our “get-it-done-now” world. Yet it is an incredibly important check-in question. It may or may not be relevant for you right now, yet it’s important to check. It’s about more than “it’s not time yet.” It’s about literally stepping back to have a last look, or to do something again, or to take a different turn, or to make a different choice. The situation could be asking you to step back so that you can listen and observe, because something is trying to get your attention. Sometimes taking a step back is what, in fact, opens the door for the next step forward.
Question #5—What is it time to set free or leave behind?
Life is a journey. People, places, roles, experiences, practices, ideas, and beliefs come into our lives for a reason. Sometimes they fade away for a reason, too. Some things are with us for a lifetime, others only for a few hours or days.
This question asks us to be aware of what is most important or relevant in our lives now, and what is no longer. As you recognize something that it’s time to set free or leave behind, release it with a simple ritual. Thank it for what it brought you or how it has served you and what you have learned, and then set it free.
When a person or place or belief has held particular significance, there may be a period of healing or grieving as you leave it behind. It’s ok. Give yourself the time and space that you need, and when support would be helpful, seek out that support as well.
Question #6—What insights do you now have about your direction and focus?
As you reflect on these questions, what insights arise? What more do you know about where you are now and where you are going?
Transition times can be incredibly valuable. Make the most of them.
Liminal space and transition times are incredibly important. They allow for things to fall into place, for pieces of the puzzle to come together. Perhaps most importantly, these times allow our inner thoughts, feelings, and perspectives to catch up with our outer circumstances and situations. And sometimes the other way around.
During the coming weeks, carve out time and space for reflection. Use these questions to take stock of where you are now and what your life is asking you for next.