Before we continue where we left off I want to acknowledge 2 things.
1. We all progress through the Cycle of Life at our own pace. You’re not doing it wrong. If you feel farther ahead than others or if you feel like you’re lagging behind, let me say it again – you’re not doing it wrong. Just be mindful of where you are – give yourself some grace and take baby steps forward. That’s all you need to do. How fast or slow you go is influenced by a host of internal (past experiences) and external (where you live, your culture of origin) factors that impact how you move through this cycle.
2. I’ve been using the example of the pandemic because it’s a recent universal experience. But you can also have multiple cycles happening at once. A loved one’s death is its own cycle. So is divorce, job loss, a scary diagnosis and any of the other 40 types of loss. Positive milestones like getting married, having a baby, retirement, or turning 50 can also have their own cycles. If it makes you stop and reconsider your identity or how you move through life it can have a cycle. AND each cycle comes with its own timeline. Some you’ll move through faster than others. Our often confusing emotions, our ability to feel good about some things and still stuck in other areas starts to make a little more sense if you understand that you’ve likely got multiple cycles happening at once. If this is you, be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Give yourself grace as you move through them. And take exquisite care of yourself.
Okay, let’s keep going because we left off with hope and hope is always a good place to start.
We mentioned how we came together to support frontline workers, fight for social justice, and raise our spirits even in the depths of lockdown.
In our own lives, “coming together” has a way of melting our resistance. Maybe that’s hiring a coach or a therapist. Maybe it’s starting a meditation practice. Maybe it’s finally unrolling the yoga mat we put away last March. Or maybe it’s planning the book that has been growing inside us for years.
It’s a time when we reconnect with our spirituality (whatever that looks like for you) and lean on something bigger than ourselves. Viewing things at the soul-level helps make sense of what feels impossible to sort out at ground level. This can be a truly transformative time if you’re willing to let go of what no longer serves you and then make choices about who you are now. Your whole life can change if you’re open to it.
At this point in the cycle we’re still grieving, still wishing for things to be different or better. We still have unmet expectations about the future. We can’t quite see around the curve to the time when we’re able to return to our community but we can sense that it’ll happen soon.
That makes us impatient.
This is where I’m at these days. Impatient and hopeful and sometimes frustrated by my impatience. The vaccines are giving us a sense that a return to community is going to happen soon-ish. We’re impatiently waiting for our turn and frustrated with seeing other countries opening up faster than we are. We’re remaining cautiously optimistic that even with new variants, that this summer can include a trip to the beach.
Impatience isn’t as disorienting as the shock of separation but it can be frustrating as hell. And it comes with fatigue too. We’re tired of lockdown and isolation. We’re aching to hug our loved ones and go out for drinks with friends. We feel like we’ve been resting and rebirthing for AGES and we’re soooooo ready for the integration and return to community. It’ll happen but it won’t look the same.
Because WE are not the same. And that is what integration is really all about.
Again, it’s an opportunity to transform the pain of the last year into a wiser you – if you’re ready to let go. It’s a reimagining of ourselves. Just like the butterfly steps out of its cocoon completely unrecognizable, gorgeous, and confident in its ability to fly. We have the ability to step into the version of ourselves that has quietly existed in our hearts, just waiting for this moment to arrive.
While we wait for the integration part of the pandemic cycle now is the perfect time to check in with our core values. Decide what we want to carry with us into the future and what we want to leave behind. Maybe we can adopt that slower pace. Or commit to the reconnection with GUS (God/Universe/Spirit/Soul/Source). Or carve non-negotiable space for the rituals that have sustained us throughout the process of rebirth.
It’s an opportunity to set new boundaries around work and self-care and strike a balance between being in community and sacred alone time.
Part of re-emerging from the rest and rebirth stage is sharing our gifts with others. Walking through the darkness enables us to see the light more clearly. Maybe just a pinprick or a spotlight at first that grows steadily as we move towards it. Our pain and loss give us insight that can help us navigate life in a new way. Stories that can inspire and lift others up. Renewed confidence in what we’re here to accomplish.
Even the butterfly takes a moment to pause, lift its wings to the sun and let them dry before taking flight. The end of the cycle requires courage and vulnerability from us as we shake off the darkness and get used to our new sense of self.
Be patient with yourself. You don’t need to force insight. Or overanalyze in search of lessons learned. Trust yourself. You were built to go through this whole cycle. The caterpillar surrenders completely to the process of becoming a butterfly, willing to let go of its pudgy, fuzzy, leaf-devouring past trusting that the next stage of evolution will be even better.
The more conscious, mindful awareness we can bring to this part of the cycle now, the better we’ll be able to integrate what we’ve learned and re-emerge as a more knowledgeable, more authentic version of ourselves.
And on that note…
It’s time to grab your pen and favourite journal again. Here are some questions to jumpstart your integration process.
- Where are you currently in the Cycle of Life?
- Aside from the pandemic, do you have other Cycles of Life that you’re also moving through right now? Name them. Note where you are for each cycle. What feelings are coming up?
- What’s your next baby step forward?
- Acknowledge any feelings of frustration or impatience you have. How have you dealt with impatience or frustration in the past? Could any of those coping mechanisms support you now?
- Life will expand again. What do you want to include more of in your life?
- What have you learned about yourself as a result of COVID?
- What gifts are you committed to sharing with our new world?
- What do you want an average post-COVID day to look like for you?
- How will your values influence what you decide to let go of and what to cultivate?
- What rituals have comforted or nourished you over the last year? Which ones do you want to carry with you into your expanded life?
No matter where you are in the Cycle of Life it can be helpful to have someone walk alongside you through the shock and separation, the unfamiliar new terrain, the rest and the rebirth, and guide you towards integrating what you’ve learned.