I learned a new word today during the virtual meditation class; Liminal. Thankful that these days we do most everything virtual I was able to look up the word while a discussion took place. Liminal is the transforming space between what was and the next. COVID-19 has thrust us into a Liminal Space. In this space the capacity for peace is present.
COVID-19 brings about many unknowns that activates fear. Am I going to be able to open up my business again? I am going to be able to pay the bill? How far behind will my kids get academically? Will my marriage last? Am I going to get sick? Will my loved one get sick? Will the person I know who is sick die? Will they find a cure? What will happen to our health care? How far will Social Distancing go? Will I have to become a Vegan or Vegetarian because of meat contamination? Questions go on and on and if you watch the news daily you notice questions continue to go unanswered and more questions are created.
Before COVID-19 we lived in a world was a place where we experienced life first hand. We felt the touch of another human being, we hung out together and laughed in real-time. We went to sporting events and cheered on our favorite teams. We went to happy hours, yoga classes, went to our places of worship, and met our neighbors.
COVID-19 has brought on a world of fear. Fear is justifiable in light of the pandemic; however, we do not want to allow fear to cast a shadow over our Liminal Space. The emotion of fear awakens the Amygdala (Fight, Flight, or Freeze response ) which triggers the hippocampus (where memory is stored) into activation which impacts the prefrontal cortex (decision making part of the brain). So we can say, A + H+ PC = Assess Threat after which we can understand if our fear response is based on reason or based on emotion.
Fear is a basic emotion such as is joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, anticipation. Emotions are subjectively based and a reminder that we humans beings who feel. Notice the fear without a narrative and notice how your liminal space grows. This space allows for your journey to continue. The unknown has a great capacity for just that…to transform. The unknown can become anything. Our propensity is to think the unknown means something bad. The Buddhist saying it that, it is neither bad or good. It is.” That’s Liminal Space, a threshold of potential to continue on building a life of meaning and purpose despite the pandemic.
Martin Seligman, often regarded as the father of positive psychology, describes three paths to happiness: the Pleasant Life (Hollywood’s view of happiness), The Good Life (focused on personal strengths and states of “flow”), and the Meaningful Life. COVID-19 has stripped away the Pleasant life and has given each of us an opportunity to transform our lives into the Good Life and the Meaningful Life. If you have been living the Good and Meaningful life, hats off to you and may this time confirm your journey. For those of us we were getting caught up in the Pleasant life may our perspective be that of relishing in what money can’t buy or the ego can’t feed.
It is important to understand that the Liminal Space does not mean pushing away negative emotions or making as if a crisis is not occurring. The liminal space makes room for the inevitable states. If we learn to wait and allow for the Liminal Space our capacity to live out our best life yet will be materialized because we don’t fight against the inevitable. We approach crisis intentionally and rather than being paralyzed we boldly approach the space confidently being assured that beauty to come forth from the ashes. That life may not look as it did before COVID-19 yet it will be beautiful for beauty will come forth from the ashes.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
― Rabindranath Tagore