Recently I’ve had a number of conversations with people about transitions and the inner challenges that we face as we journey through various life changes. One common feature appears to be that as we go through transition, we leave part of ourselves or at least a concept of ourselves behind. Although we feel like we just need to “get over it” or “get on with it” in many cases it may be wise to pause and allow ourselves to address our loss. Here’s a practice you may want to try.
In loving memory to who I used to be is a practice to be utilized for someone in or through a transition. Any new stage of life can bring up great hopes and excitement but it can also bring up thoughts, emotions, memories, etc. from the past that may need some time and attention as we let go of what “used to be.” or “who we used to be.” In some cases moving into a new chapter can bring inner grief for the loss of our previous self. This practice can be done in one sitting or multiple sittings. Adjust the practice to your own needs.
- Find a quiet place and time where you can be undisturbed for at least 15 minutes.
- Have a pen/pencil and paper for writing (or utilize any technology that feels comfortable, phone, tablet, etc.)
- Make yourself comfortable and close or lower your eyes taking 5-10 deep breaths to calm and center yourself. If you’ve been really active prior to this practice, you may wish to take 10-15 deep breaths.
- Now think about who you were prior to the recent transition you’ve been through.
- Imagine your current self as the observer of who you used to be.
- Now take some time to outline or write out a memorial service (or memoriam) for your former self.
- Think about certain memories that were important, songs, poems, scripture, quotes, you might want to share.
- Think about what you (today) would want to share about your past self. You might include, joys, regrets, successes, milestones, sadnesses, things left undone, guidance/advice your past self would give others, guidance/advice your past self has for you today, etc.
- Be open to whatever surfaces within you. It will likely be quite a diverse picture of a whole life!
- You may wish to write with your non-dominant hand as a way to tap into deeper feelings or thoughts.
- You may wish to think about who you might share this with, even if you just keep it to yourself.
- Once you feel like you’ve written all you’re able to for now, ask yourself if there’s more you’d like to write.
- If yes, come back to this practice as often as you wish until you feel satisfied that you’ve written all you want to.
- Once you feel you’re done writing, ask yourself what you might do (if anything) with this?
- Wait at least 48 hours to act on whatever you decide to do with it.
- To close your time, take a few minutes to review what you wrote and pay attention to anything that especially stands out to you, a word, phrase, memory, emotion or image.
- Take that word, phrase, memory, emotion or image into a brief silent time – utilize a breath practice along with it if you want to.