Pausing For Breath At The Threshold of Consciousness
I’ve spent the summer steeped in the subject of liminal space, which is the name given to that phase of our transitional process where we have left the old and not yet arrived in the new.
Life is a process of transitions: we are ourselves ever-changing within an ever-changing world. Learning the language of transition, of change, and liminality—the heart of change itself—eases our journey, allowing the myriad of experiences we find along the way to wash through us; greeted, embraced, and then released. Each transition teaches us to be more articulate in the realities of impermanence, but more deeply it gives us compassionate insight for the challenges blueprinted into humanity itself.
The root word of liminal is limen, which in Latin means threshold. Subliminal means “below the threshold of consciousness.” Liminal means “relating to the threshold,” which, embodied, is to be neither here nor there. In the threshold you are but on your way. You have left, yet not arrived.
So what is there to do in this “in between” of life? Do we wait, just twiddling our thumbs? Unfortunately, it is not that simple, not that empty. The in between, in fact, can be a very active place—an awfully dark and scary place. So much so that people often want to run back to the known. But it’s kind of like having given up your place at a large dinner table; there really isn’t a familiar place waiting when we head back from whence we came. Can’t go forward, Can’t go back today, Baby. It seems to me, I’m living in a dream. Where I can’t go forward and I can’t go back. I knew a woman who used to sing that song. Liminality is the melody of her words.
In this waiting depot we are preparing for what is to come. Cultures that embrace the reality of the liminal space tell stories, enact rituals, gather as a tribe in support of the weary traveler, all for the purpose of guiding the initiate through the process and helping them to have a safe and valuable journey.
The challenge for us today, of course, is that we no longer have enough traditions for all the transitions we go through. And the discomfort of not knowing where we are, how to navigate our way through, and when or if the disorienting phase will end, can plunge us into self-doubt, self-criticism and even despair. Not to mention that change can be emotionally and physically exhausting.
Our day-to-day world is all about knowing—even more so in the last decades as our fast-paced environment demands more be done in less time. Many of us are never without the feeling of needing to catch up and so are forced to behave as if we “know” what we are doing, what we want, what needs to done, etc., when in reality, we’ve not been still in so long we couldn’t possibly have a grasp on our current needs and desires or emanating from the people we love and care for deeply. It’s painful to be out of touch with those we love.
It’s a challenge to be in between when we feel we should be up ahead.
It’s unnerving to be nowhere when we feel we left the familiar longer ago than we care to admit or might even be able to remember.
It’s difficult to challenge ourselves when we cannot be without our: schedule, date book, car pool commitment, paycheck... We make agreements to do things, be places, to look and behave in certain ways. We make and live by agreements so old, we cannot recall a thing about how we came to them in the first place. Yet we live by them, ever-committed, without thought to challenge or question them now. We agree to the structures that keep repetitive patterns in place and become not just emotionally attached to them, but fundamentally reliant and feverishly defensive of them. Sometimes we enjoy the structures and sometimes we resent them. Sometimes we want to blow them apart but cannot and will not, and sometimes they’re being blown apart and we cannot stop it no matter how much we want or feel we need to. Being gripped by a liminal phase is to have these structures we are dependent upon blown to bits seemingly without warning or say.
This is life.
Life is change.
It is happening to us.
It is our make-up, our birthright, our greatest challenge, our greatest gift—not always welcomed, not always understood, not always embraced; but always here—ever and always near.
We often cannot see the changes approaching or shaping us at the time. Sometimes years pass before we feel the effect of transition and move into the body of the new life into which we have metamorphosized. Sometimes years are lived within changes that never seem to end. A loss of structure is bound to occur many, many times in our lives, and if we can be still within what might be a total collapse of what identifies, comforts, and validates us, we can begin to experience something of ourselves that has been lurking all along and is only available for the fleeting moments of being betwixt and between1, who we know ourselves to be and who we are becoming.
Liminality occurs in response to loss of structure—that which holds, contains, supports, ensures, maintains. When we experience change, we experience the structure changing. What are the structures in your life? How do you feel when they are removed?
Transitional times call for a deepening in our capacity to steady ourselves within the unknown. When we still our consciousness, what arises is the material of the unconscious body. It can be like letting a wild animal out of cage. Not ferocious, but wild—animal—not tame, not civilized.
It could be said that we are only body. From the perspective that our mind is a communication system with our body, this is quite true. Material that occurs to us in our physical life is registered in the psychical material of our body.
But being still is going to mean something. The question is can you embrace and be present for the meaning, moment to moment. That is what is meant by Being In MESHE, to have met a moment and been responsible to what happens to you (within you) on a feeling level, in your body, in your heart and soul, in spite of what is happening to your mind. Mind says, Run! Still intention says, Feel. Mind says, Run!! Still intention says, My body is feeling… and observes… My body is feeling… Wow…
© Copyright 2005 KD Farris, Ph.D.. All Rights Reserved.
Read KD's Past Columns:
Jan-Mar 2005 - "Tuning In - Turning Within"
Oct-Dec 2004 - "Experiencing Loss as a Gain"
Aug-Sept 2004 "Sometimes to Move Forward, We Have to Go Back"
June-July 2004 "Soulful Practice: Spiritual Practice--Soulful Nature"
Jan-Feb 2004 - "Making Our Dreams Come True Is Living A Truthful Life"
December 2003 - "Graceful Living - Confessions of a Professional Speaker"
October 2003 - "Serenity: As Calm, As Clear
May 2003 - "What are Your Needs?"
April 2003 - "Techniques for Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part II of II
February 2003 - "HESHE & Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part I of II
January 2003 - "Body & Soulful Living"
November 2002 - "Getting Into MESHE with Your Home Through Minor Adjustments"
October 2002 - "Being in MESHE with Clearing Clutter"
September 2002 - "Discover Going on Retreat"
July 2002 - "Build Your MESHE - Seek the Space: A Process for Reclaiming the Shadow"
June 2002 - Revisiting: "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
May 2002 - "Bodywork 101"
March 2002 - "Being Present Within Your Prosperous Life"
February 2002 - "HESHE and The Third Bird"
December 2001 - "Manifesting Your Perfect Partner with Personal Truthz"
November 2001 - "Remembering What We Already Know"
September 2001 - "Be Led By What You Are Trying to Avoid"
August 2001 - "Draw Your Way to Clarity, Health & Balance"
June 2001 - "Tending to the Negative Mind"
May 2001 - "Gentle Conscious Living"
April 2001 - "MISON and The Moment"
March 2001 - "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
KD Farris, Ph.D. is a successful counselor, healer, and bodyworker. For more than twenty years she has taught
extensive workshops based on MESHE, HESHE, MISON & ORBIT as well as many other self-discovery topics.
KD began developing her integrated bodywork and counseling techniques in 1983 under the tutelage of many prominent doctors and healers throughout the United States.
Her education into the spiritual and physical aspects of the human experience served as the foundation for her private practice and the development of a new philosophy. She combined her techniques into four guiding principles, which she shares in her book, MESHE, HESHE,
MISON & ORBIT: What My Grandmother Taught Me About the Universe. She teaches a companion workshop series, where she creates an interactive environment demonstrating the material from her book with tangible, life altering effects. In these workshops, individuals discover a
deepening of their relationship to self, others, and life itself.
Through individual counseling and group workshops, she has taught her results-oriented programs to many different types of people including those confined to mental institutions, substance and food abusers, and generally, people in life transitions, struggling with intimate
relationships, or who lack direction in their lives. Visit www.kdfarris.com.
KD is currently touring a new body of work, Talking About People in Transition, Also Known As
Liminal Space. She will be writing about liminality and its relevance to day-to-day living in upcoming issues of Soulful Living. For more information on this new and exciting topic, or to learn about more her private practice, workshops and lectures, visit
Contact KD at: info@MESHE.com