As you let go of one connection or situation, there is a moment you are not holding on to anything, or it feels no one has a hold of you. This can be terrifying, and we avoid this at all costs – including enduring ongoing suffering by continuing to remain someplace that is no longer serving us.
The challenging part is that in this place, we rarely have any structure supporting us. We do not know what is happening, nor do we have others there supporting or witnessing us. We are alone. Sure, at the pinnacle of this stage, you are alone. Yet, through the general process of change, it is much more graceful if you have support.
Having one person who has traveled this path before with any consciousness helps. Someone telling you that you are not crazy and your panic is normal will calm you. As we see in our groups, others holding an emotionally safe place of acceptance helps us feel our deeper emotions attempting to release.
As mentioned before, the emotions and physiology we could not previously feel will want to release. When we cannot complete an action, in its essence – flight or fight — the physiological and, consequently, the emotional energy, accumulates. We become good at our survival patterns because as kids, that is all we had in certain moments. Perfecting these patterns gave us a lot. First, we survived. Often, we also retained the acceptance which we needed.
The dam that we built up to hold in what was not okay to feel, want, or express breaks open at this stage. There is a moment when it feels as if our entire identity is collapsing. That dam of survival evolved to be part of our identity, as limiting as it was.
As Joseph Campbell describes, the transition from the ordinary world to the new one is a huge leap of faith – or, some would say, a big push off a high ledge. During the dark night of the soul, when you are falling for a moment that may last for hours, you feel much around the theme you are dealing with that you were unable to feel.
Being someone tightly wound, I had several of these liminalities. Even though I knew what was occurring and why, it was still terrifying in the moment of the fall, I felt like the life I created was a failure, I was a failure, and I would never be loved, succeed, or have my own life.
Understanding the process and having support, specifically the support of my group, allowed the pre and post fall to be much more graceful. As my friend and old-time group member tells people, knowing I was there with our group allowed Wayne to call me as he fell. That call saved his life, and he says that had we not been there, he would have killed himself.
Practicing letting go in simple ways such as surrendering to your experience in a somatic mindfulness meditation or a big cry in your group sets you up to fall and enter this change process. Many minor releases put cracks in your dam, allowing your emotions to release, and it also trains your body not to hold on so much.
Building upon what you discussed last week about the thing you are currently leaving in your life. Or if there is not a current situation or relationship, what will you leave or have recently left?
Speak about the death of the old ways. What are you leaving behind, letting go of? As you speak, name your body and emotional feelings. Allow yourself to feel some of the pressure of the backup water behind your dam wanting to release – as you feel the fear holding it back.
Go beyond the story, reasons, and “should” to the experience. It may involve going back to being the little boy where it probably started. Speak to the place where a part of the man died – where he had to decide to hold back to continue to exist in his family.
If you are the man doing the work, let the physical and emotional feelings overwhelm you. Let the men in your group hold and protect you. Allow yourself to fall.
Over the years, I have been honored to be a witness to over a hundred experiences of men letting go of deep patterns that trapped them in self-limiting lives. Our bodies what to release; they need the support they never got to begin to step out of the past. When we feel safe in a group, we start stepping through to another existence with the group’s guidance and support.
[i] The word “liminal” comes from the Latin root, limen, which means “threshold.” The liminal space is the “crossing over” space – a space where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else. It’s a transition space. From: https://transformationalpresence.org/alan-seale-blog/liminal-space-embracing-mystery-power-transition-will-2/
Check out the third post here.