Luxuriating in Liminality
Twelve years ago, in the process of moving to Australia, my youngest daughter and I found ourselves between lives. Layne and our two older kids were already established in Brisbane, and all of our earthly belongings were in a container on their way across the Pacific. But Sarah and I stayed back for two months, camping in our empty house so she could finish out the school year. We had essentially left our old life, but we hadn’t yet begun our new life in Australia. This place of in-betweenness is known as a liminal space: the passage between here and there.
The root of the word ‘liminal’ is limen, which in Latin means ‘threshold’.
The word subliminal means below the threshold, in this case the threshold of consciousness. If you’re in a liminal space, you are at a threshold. It’s a term that applies to those times in our lives when we stand in the space between the old, which may no longer be functional, and the new, which is not yet fully defined. These thresholds are inevitable in life. Each crossing ushers in the beginning of a new cycle.
The most dramatic liminal spaces occur during or after an extreme event: a pandemic, an unexpected death, the loss of a job.
Major events like these put us in a place we’ve never been before, and can leave us feeling disoriented. But liminal spaces also exist in everyday life. Long, silent hallways. Pregnancies. Airplanes.
Often in a liminal space there’s a tendency to rush, to get to the other side ASAP. The farthest thing from our mind is taking time to slow down enough to envision the possibilities that might lie in wait in the next cycle. But if we can consciously linger in life’s liminal spaces, we may be able to see a different option, another route, or something we hadn’t seen before. Slowing down and envisioning possibilities can help us to free ourselves from patterns we are stuck in. Taking our time in life’s liminal spaces gives us the chance to cross the threshold with heightened awareness, and with the wisdom gleaned from the previous cycle.
Though it takes different forms for all of us, even within our own lives, the experience of lingering in liminal spaces is universal. It can be messy, scary, and uncomfortable, which is always an invitation to grow. It can also be a place of rest and rejuvenation; the birthplace for something empowering and transformative that propels us purposefully onward into the next cycle.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a liminal space we experience every year. It can feel a bit like sneaking out the side door and venturing off into a magical place where you can let down your guard, pause, and take a break from reality. Being conscious in this in-between place enables us to cross the threshold into the new year with purpose, so we can move forward boldly and with confidence.
Wishing you the join of luxuriating in liminality this holiday season ✨
If you’d like to cross the threshold with me into 2022, join me either in-person or via livestream for Resolve to Evolve, my annual New Year’s Even morning class. We’ll move, be still, reflect, and connect as we get set to cross this year’s threshold. Click here to book.