Transition Rituals

american-bags-busy-1798948Transition Rituals Life is crazy! It seems as though the world keeps picking up pace, moving faster and faster. Our smart devices encourage this speed because they allow us to keep moving so that no matter where we are…we can just keep going. And our lives are full. Family, relationships, work, household management, kids, friends, exercise, etc etc etc. There is much to balance with multiple transitions all throughout the day. Whether at work or at home we are constantly moving from one thing to the next. It can make us crazy but there is a REALLY SIMPLE thing you can do to help.

Transition rituals. Helping our brains and bodies move from one thing to the next is key to regaining energy, helping our minds shift more easily, and to feeling more productive and alive at the end of the day. A transition ritual is a simple practice of taking a moment, a break, between appointments, tasks, or any other shifts in the day to more easily and more mindfully move from one to the next. It could be breathing, listening to a song, taking a coffee or water break, meditating on a word, anything that allows your brain and body to rest for a moment, more calmly transitioning to the next.

I first heard about transition rituals when I was in grad school. A professor started talking about how important this practice was for therapists as we move from one client session to the next. Each session we need to bring different parts of who we are, skills, and offerings to the people we work with, and we need to be able to shift from what one person needs, to what the next person needs. It’s great self-care for me as I am holding space for one person’s story and then shifting, caring for myself, so that I can bring my very best energy and self to my next client.

adult-beverage-coffee-999305This idea really resonated with me and I’ve been practicing it as a therapist between sessions ever since I began doing therapy. But then I realized, transition rituals are for everyone. It hit me one day when I was talking to a friend about the stress of her daily morning routine. During her morning, she went from the crazy rush of getting her daughter to school to then quickly transitioning into her professional world and driving to work. She talked about the “break” that she built in between these two parts of her life by grabbing a coffee and mentally resetting. She worried that this was not a good use of her time. My response to her was, “It’s your transitional ritual. It’s the very best use of your time!” It’s what she needed to move from Mom to Professional. It was clear to her that she needed this time to shift well. Releasing the energy and or stress it took to get to the school drop off then transitioning to the next energy that she wanted to bring to start her work day. My friend was doing this transition practice accidentally and what I suggest, and encouraged her, is that you mindfully do this with intention. Acknowledging transitional moments help you navigate the day in a more mindful way.

A great secret about transition rituals….they count for meditation! There is SO much research now about the positive immediate impact that meditation can have on us. Research also supports the ongoing positive outcomes of meditation for months even years after we start a meditative practice.

A few of these incredible outcomes of meditative or mindful practices are:

  • stress and anxiety reduction
  • promoting better sleep
  • generating kindness
  • increasing focus
  • helping with pain control

Meditation does not have to be 20 minutes twice a day to have a positive impact. Transitioning with 2-3 minutes of quiet breathing can have similar effects in helping our minds take breaks to rest, then move ahead, filling us with time that we took care of ourselves and restored the ever sought after energy.

close-up-eyes-face-792043It’s simple. I like simple. I believe we need simple as a society today. It can be at the beginning of the day, the end of the day, between appointments, or it can even be all day long as you shift from one thing to the next. After a sprint of focus, take 2-3 minutes to sit quietly, be still, and breathe. Inhale, filling up on all that you just experienced, exhale to let it go. Think of a word that works for you….”let go”, “relax”, “shift”, “transition”. Keep repeating it as your shoulders begin to come down. If you can, close your eyes. Let them rest as they get so much stimulation all day long. Then move in your last minute to what’s coming next. Maybe say something that will inspire you, motivate you to give the next thing good positive strong energy. How can you bring your best self to what’s next? What word will help you set that intention?

Once you sit for just a few moments, your body will start to respond. You can literally feel your muscles relax. Your brain will get the restoration it’s likely craving. Practice this ritual whenever you can. From one thing to the next. From home to work. From work to home. It will change you. It will change the you that you bring to the people in your life. Brendon Burchard is a very successful business coach who teaches a transition ritual that he uses throughout his day. He uses the word “release” and then sets an intention for whatever’s coming next. These release meditations have had really positive outcomes for him and for his clients.

Trust me, this works. Try it. Take a few minutes a few times a day to try it and pretty soon, you may be doing a transition ritual every time you can.

Next Steps

If you are someone looking to find relief from the stress and anxiety of a busy world, there are therapists such as myself that specialize in supporting these needs. Please contact me here. I offer free 15 minute consultations where I’ll try to get an idea of what you are dealing with and how I can help. I can let you know if I think therapy would be a good fit for you. We will get a good sense of each other and can decide if I’m the best fit for you. Together we will make a plan for the next steps.