The moon is bright and the night is still.
A gentle quiet creeps in and covers the land.
I stop and breathe in her silence.
I wait for it to penetrate, to pierce the pulsing bubble of my brain.
Lately, it is only when there is space outside and around me that I can really begin to feel the fullness of my inner congestion.
It is only at the end of the day, against the vast emptiness of night, that I can truly admit and feel the clutter of my own chaotic interior.
There are many times, in the many phases of our life, that we sense change coming.
We can feel it in the air, smell it on the breeze – it whispers of the coming of distant rain after a long, dry spell.
We know that with the change, an ending is inevitable.
We know that what has been, will not continue to be.
I often sense this more keenly in the winter months, when the branches are bare and the skies swept clean of clouds, reveal the chilly truth of long dark nights, when they invite, invoke, the uncomfortable unknown.
As I look up into this night, so close to our longest, I suddenly sense the seriousness of the distance between us. I feel the depth of my longing to bridge this chasm, for an ancient part of my nature, my core, to become reacquainted, to reconnect and come home.
Our ancestors hosted rituals and revered the changing of the seasons. They knew we were not separate, that we needed to remember, recognise and mark our personal subtle shifts.
They knew that we could feel comforted in the knowledge that change was normal, that as our outer world changed, so too did we.
Throughout our lives there are our obvious transitions – from infancy to adolescence, the onset of menstruation, pregnancy, the birth of a child, menopause, death – all clear signs of the end of one time and the beginning of another.
But there are many others.
The start and end of our school life, our first love, leaving home, heartbreak, illness, the changing of jobs, the loss of loved ones and travel.
And then there are the times of our spiritual or integrative transitions – phases that mark the growth of our ideas, practices, values and beliefs.
So many beginnings and endings.
So much change.
But in our busy world, we are often unaware, not only of the seasons, but of our own internal shifts – the subtle sliding between here and there, the slow migration between then and now.
In some Buddhist traditions, it is taught that there is a space after death where our spirit or consciousness resides before returning for rebirth. This space is known as ‘bardo’ or ‘the in between’.
The term bardo has more recently been used to describe the space or time that sits after an ending and before something new begins.
The time of transition, of change, of reckoning and truth.
It is a space that I sit in with my clients.
Holding them, helping them find the courage to navigate the immensity of their deep inner shifts.
It is space I am sitting in now.
A quiet corner, a gentle gap, a window of wondering, unknowing.
It doesn’t tell me what is ahead.
It doesn’t wish to revisit the past.
It just wants me to be here, in the present.
To honour, to revere, to trust.
Like the vast blackness outside my bedroom window, it offers me no answers, but with its great big silence it beckons me, calls me home.
It is not easy to sit in space of unknowing.
There is temptation in its emptiness – to try to fill it up.
There is tension in its emptiness – to try to push into it or to pull away.
There is terror in its emptiness – all our unspoken fears – what if this nothingness goes on, what if this is all that is ahead for me?
We all face these in-between spaces.
We all bump up against the bardo.
The void is calling to me now.
Not with words, but with subtle endings and sweet open skies that speak no sense to my ever curious mind.
So I stop questioning.
I am listening with my heart.
Turning towards the transition with all its temptation and tension and terror.
I could turn away, but I am tuning in.
I am trusting.
My intuitive voice guides me, it whispers encouragement,
‘Honey, you have done this before.’
There is a quickening as I stand in this space, palms facing upward, eyes to the sky, drawing in a slow, deep breath.
And I feel it begin,
a deep, slow,
Alone and on the edge of something I cannot name, I release my need for comfort and control.
I step into and allow, the unknown.
(C) Chandu Bickford