The space between the birth of your self-awareness and knowing your destiny, is what we call “the liminal space”
The Excellence of Feeling Lost
There have been times in my life when I’d felt on top of the world. I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be. All parts of my life have led me to this summit of pure and exalted existence. I am at the peak of my humanity. But then comes another day. A storm rolls in. I get blown off course. I open eyes. I’m stumbling out of my bed too late in the morning, feeling as if all my hairs are standing on end like Medusa. My brain drags heavily on all the items on my to-do list that I haven’t yet done, commiserating on all the dreams I still yearn to fulfill. I don’t know who I am anymore. This is my state of what I would call my “liminal space.” But this isn’t a hopeless state. This could in fact, be a place of utmost human potential.
The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word limins, which means, “threshold.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines liminal as –
Definition of LIMINAL 1: of or relating to a sensory threshold 2: barely perceptible 3: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional <in the liminal state between life and death — Deborah Jowitt>
The Inside Opinion Of A Psychoanalyst
Psychology Today has a good opener in an article called Creativity and the Liminal Space written by Carrie Barron, M.D. Barron writes:
What happens if you lose what appears to be your “everything” and you do not know what to do next? If you feel that you are anxiously floating in the inbetween perhaps you are in The Liminal Space.
Barron describes the liminal space in the body of her article this way:
People lose jobs they held for decades, get divorced after many years, or have to walk away from family due to a lifetime of little assaults that became too much. Though depression and anxiety can abate when one is removed from psychologically grueling situation loneliness might set in. Your sense of belonging, purpose and identity can be compromised if you have to change your job, leave your mate or create a new circle. Waking up with no clear plan or having no holiday ritual can be disorienting and agitating.
I wanted to quote this because this state can be disorienting. I know what this situation is like because I’ve lived a fast-paced life in the U.S. wearing high heels on for no reason, trying to be someone other than me. I’ve lived with this invisible pressure to succeed bearing down on me like the gravity of the bottom of the ocean. From a recent break up with my boyfriend to feeling like all my plans in life have simply blown up in a cloud of smoke and stardust, I am starting all over again. I am needing strength. I am vulnerable to the universe. I am becoming someone new. It is a state of being that is illusive, that’s for sure. But it is also a state that might be leading you to the beginning of a new you.
…a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing. -Richard Rohr
The Beginning of The New You
From a literary standpoint, this is probably where a lost hero in a dramatic story loses hope.
It is the dark before the sunrise, the very moment, before he gains strength and snaps back stronger than ever before. It’s like when the young-adult Simba king is brooding and meets Rafiki, the cool medicine guru monkey that leads him back to his spiritual purpose in life.
Or when Stitch, the alien creature in Lilo & Stich, wanders by himself alone in the woods. Stich holds up a book about a lost duckling trying to find its family, and admits to dark and obscure night, “I am lost.”
The Space Where Transformation Begins
I found a research article from US National Library of Medicine published in Fall 2007 called Liminality: The transforming grace of in-between places that introduces concept from Richard Rohr:
Rohr suggests that the only way out of a person’s entrapment in “normalcy, the way things are,” is to be drawn into sacred space, often called liminality, where he believes all genuine transformation occurs. Liminality, from the Latin word for threshold, is the state of being betwixt and between where the old world has been left behind but we have not yet arrived at what is to come. This article attempts to develop an understanding of liminality using metaphors of wilderness, tomb, and exile as found in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It seeks to reconcile the paradox of the apparent hiddenness of God and the concurrent opportunity to see Him in new ways that occurs in these times. Pastoral care and counseling applications for those working with people in liminal space are briefly engaged.
The Comedian That Transformed The World
Katie Sabira, a stand-up comedian/healer/actress, tells a story about how she blossomed in the liminal space, after having been brought up in a “male paradigm.” She made an excellent appearance on a Tedx video in Grass Valley in 2012. Her background is pretty unusual. She introduces herself by saying:
I was raised by a marketing executive corporate world CEO mom and an empiricist scientist atheist Russian Jew dad,” Sabira said. “I always say that having a Russion Jew Dad and an Irish Catholic mom was a double whammy against me because I hate myself and I feel guilty about that.
Sabira describes the male paradigm like this:
I was raised in a male, masculine, shut up, don’t have feelings, stuff it down, take some drugs, pull up your boot straps, have a goal, push anything in the way of that goal, out of the way, toward the goal, succeed, and shut up, paradigm. And, um, I became quite good at that paradigm. I actually became a very successful doer. I was very good at having successful to-do lists and checking everything on those to-do lists off. And succeeding, succeeding, succeeding, desperate success was the point.
But then Sabira’s life began to transform the more she opened up the the universe. But first, she needed to change herself from the inside out. To speed up the transcript, Sabira basically worked hard, lived out the proverbial image of success, but kept encountering a strange blockage. Inside her, she described, she had a triangle of a blockage. Sabira explains.
On the inside, however, I felt like I had a mountain that started at the base of my throat, like this, like a triangle point, that went to the base of my pelvis, and it was a mountain of rage, and shame, and self-hate, and sadness, and fear, and betrayal, and it felt like a darkness, it felt like a rock, it felt like cement. It felt tight, all the time. And I couldn’t meditate enough, to make it soften.
Sabira tried everything. All of the healing techniques openly accessibly in this emerging world of new age that consists of really old age remedies. But what really did it for her was following her heart. Following her intuition. She let go of the old paradigm of to-do lists, and instead, she went to a school where she chiseled away at her blockage. And this worked. Sabira concludes:
After I came out of the school, something happened to me. I came, what I’d call, feminized, meaning, not like combat boot wearing feminized, but like feminized where I’m suddenly very sensitive, very open, very receptive, things come to me when I quietly sit back and do less, and I ask for help. They just magically, magically, magnetically come to me, and I don’t understand it. My whole life, I live now, inside this space where I don’t know what’s coming and I don’t know how it’s going to come.
Sabira lives in the liminal space where she doesn’t have the answers and she is happier. This gives me hope that maybe I’m not lost. Maybe I’m standing in the dark and a new sunrise is just about to rise. The Ted x Video: