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Finding Light in Transition

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Finding Light in Transition

When youíre in transition, you may feel very, very uncomfortable. Whether youíve lost or left a job, become a new mother, buried a loved one, divorced a spouse, found yourself with an empty nest, or been diagnosed with an illness, youíre likely to find yourself feeling constricted, at least at first.

You gut feels tight. Your heart hurts. You curl into a ball. You shrink. Itís like a mini-death.

You mourn the loss of your former self, letting go of your identity as Mrs. Such-and-Such, or the mother of [insert your childís name], or the expert in [insert your job title here], or the healthy being you were before your illness. You must say goodbye to a part of yourself that will never be the same again. You are irrevocably changed — whether you like it or not.

And even if that change is a positive one, itís likely to hurt.

This week, I gathered together with other doctors who are Finding Meaning In Medicine at the home of Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and one of my dearest mentors.

The topic of our conversation was ďTransitions,Ē and given that Iím in the midst of yet another transition, having just left my medical practice, I eagerly anticipated our gathering. Rachelís words about the subject moved me so deeply I wanted to share what I took away from our meeting.

Transitions Are Like Birth

When we are in transition, we go on our own heroís journey, of sorts. We start out in our usual state — which may be simultaneously comfortable and miserable, as it is when a marriage is falling apart or you leave a job you hate. No matter how unhappy you are, at least itís a known quantity. And many of us prefer a state of known unhappiness to something completely unknown that lies on the other side of a transition.

And so we often stay unhappy, choosing what we know over the mystery of the unknown. Until the pain of staying put exceeds the fear of the unknown. Or until we get pushed off the cliff against our will, as happens when someone dies, or we wind up with cancer, or someone divorces us.

Next: How to not get stuck in the narrow place

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at† and also created two online communities -† and† She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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6:12AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Good article.

5:55AM PDT on Apr 11, 2011


9:57PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

I enjoyed this thoughtful article. We so often try to avoid the discomfort of 'things going wrong'. Yet every transition is also an invitation to learn and grow. I don't believe this in the sense of the 'Universe' offering some spiritual experience; it is just how reality is. When we are suffering it is because our conditioned minds react to events with their/our conditioning. Whenever we can step back and notice that conditioning, there is a chance to step off the treadmill, or at least know we are going round the treadmill again and that this is the mind being the mind, rather than something wrong.

Best wishes,

4:10AM PDT on Apr 2, 2011

thanks for sharing

2:53PM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

Thank you so much for this article. It let me know that there is always light on the other side of a dark time. I just hope I can hold on to that knowledge when I'm going through it.

8:18AM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

Thank you for this beautiful article. It came at a perfect time, we will be burying my brother-in-law in two days, and despite knowing he's in a better place I still feel like a mess. Thank you for helping me through this transition.

11:25PM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

Well said!

6:53PM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

Awesome! Thank you! =)

5:18PM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

Nice analogy.

2:10PM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

This article would be a good one for us in Indiana for having our Democracts back after being gone for 5 weeks in Illinois because the Republicans couldn't be reasoned with over the workers belonging to a union.

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