TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Pat Blankenship on Sep 1, 2016

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2016

Journal Name: September 2016 - Vol. 52, No. 9

Transition is tough. Even transitions that take us to a better place can be just as difficult as those transitions that take us where we don’t want to go. Marriage and divorce, birth and death, wealth and poverty, boom and bust, all are circumstances to which we must acclimate ourselves, for which we must prepare. And the process of going from here to there is the transition process, and generally, the transition process is not easy.

How do we best make these transitions?  In mindful communion with ourselves.

1.  Stay grounded. Go often to your safe, secure, at-home place, if not literally, then in your mind. 
Sit in a comfortable chair, or lie down on your bed or your couch. Close your eyes. Bring your awareness to your body, and then to your breath. Allow the muscles to soften, release, melt toward the earth while the bones do all the work of holding your body in place. Notice the inhale and the exhale, the rise and the fall of the chest, the expansion and contraction of the lungs and the rib cage.

If you find your peace in a sunny meadow, imagine that meadow. See the green of the grass and the golden rays of the sunshine, the flowers and the surrounding trees bending in a gentle breeze. If you find your peace on the beach, let your mind’s eye watch the waves rolling under the setting sun. Feel the breeze on your face and the warmth on your skin. Hear the crashing of the waves.

Imagine what it would be like to be in that place now, even as you sit here with yourself. As you imagine this place, the mind and the body will begin to emulate those feelings you have when you actually physically arrive in that place, and you will begin to feel that same peace come over you.

2. Be wise — Seek knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

3. Do your research.
What are the pros and cons of this change you are contemplating?   What price will you pay and what benefit will you enjoy?  Have others made similar transitions?  Seek their counsel, read their books, ask their advice. See a professional counselor or therapist to assist you as you examine yourself and your options. Talk it out with trusted friends or family members.  

And breathe in wisdom and knowledge as you sit mindfully with your breath. You have all the tools you need to figure this thing out.  All your training, your education, your experiences have given you everything you need to help you make these decisions, effect these changes. Access those tools through mindful meditation. Breathe in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. And then watch to see what answers present themselves, what pops up in your mind while you meditate, or later in the day, or later in the week. You know the answers. You just have to figure out how to access them.

4. Get healed—transition can be hard and painful. Find the strength within you to heal the inevitable pain.    
Whether the transition you are undergoing is the result of a beautiful coming event or a dark disappointment in your life, there will be pain. There may be regrets for what came before, and there may be fear of what may come next. There may be confusion and anxiety, anticipation and fear of losing control. There may be a long list of things to do in order to accomplish the change, and a fear that you may not be able to get them all done in time. There may be people to say goodbye to and new people to meet and embrace.  Accept that there is no easy change. Expect the pain and embrace it. It is natural and normal, and we all experience it. Breathe into that pain, recognize it, acknowledge it, and embrace it.  Pain hurts a lot worse when we deny it, fight it, try to pretend it’s not there or that it shouldn’t be there. If you can release, soften, and allow the pain, it can become familiar, less burdensome and much easier to live with.  Every time you acknowledge the pain and embrace the discomfort you will find it easier and easier to approach.

5. Speak your truth—Even if the truth is hard, painful and not yet fully understood.
It’s hard to keep this transition process a secret. If you’re changing practice areas, changing jobs, or redirecting your energies in any way, others will have to become aware of that. You’ll have to tell your clients that you are no longer offering services in that area of the law. You’ll have to tell your partners that you are moving your practice to another firm or another city. You’ll have to tell your family and your friends that changes are about to take place. When you speak your truth, when you let people around you know that these transitions are taking place, you speak reality into your plans and give legs to your ideas. Thinking internally about your needed change is only part of the job; the production must be mounted, the change must be effected.

And when you speak your truth, you remove the need for secrecy and enjoy the freedom of transparency. Living anything but your truth is debilitating and should be avoided at all costs.

And if the truth hurts?  Then just acknowledge that, accept that, embrace it. Give yourself a break…. you’re trying, you’re doing your best. Give the people in your world a break. They may be forced to make changes they did not seek, and it may take a moment for them to get on board. Be patient with yourself, be patient with them. Give it time. Everything looks better in the morning, and nothing ever stays the same. This time next year, the outlook will seem a lot less bleak. People need time to acclimate, to accept, to embrace. Give yourself that time; give your people that time.

6.  Get moving — Find the courage to take the first steps to start the transition process.  
Big transitions can become more manageable if you break them down into individual steps, smaller pieces. Make a written list of goals, things that you want to accomplish for yourself through the transition. Make a list of things to do in order to prepare yourself for the transition. What notices do you need to give?  What physical arrangements must be made?  Who should you hire or solicit to assist you in the process?  And then tackle that list of things to do, one thing at a time.  Set smaller goals for yourself now, deciding which things have to be done first, and when you want to devote your time and energy to those efforts. Take it all in, but take it in small, manageable bites.

7.    Open your heart—transition will affect you and it will affect others around you.
Be kind to yourself and to them to cushion the blow of the transition.
Be patient with yourself. This is hard work. Give yourself the space you need to make mistakes, to feel a little lost. Forgive yourself for not sailing through without a hitch….no one really does.  Be patient with yourself and with others, some of whom may be dramatically affected by the transition through which you are passing. None of us is truly alone; none of us is truly an island.

A transition affects us and affects how we deal with others, and so it affects them as well.

Surround yourself with those who love you and welcome you. Limit contact as much as possible with those who judge you, who have requirements and expectations of you that don’t work well for you during this transition. Seek people of like mind, who have your best interests at heart, who are emotionally vested in your success. And if those people are not readily available, then reach out to new relationships even as you let go of the old.  Find and make time for activities and relationships that build you up, that comfort you, that support you as you grow and evolve.

8.     Be content as you process through your transition.
Letting go of the old and embracing the new may be uncomfortable, confusing, and even discombobulating.  If you know that going in, if you accept that as a necessary part of the process, then perhaps you can find contentment in that. Every moment of chaos and confusion is one step closer to the peaceful resolution of the change. Every twinge of discomfort is a signal that you are growing, you are changing, you are accomplishing. When you allow for the process, you can release, become expansive and open to the new.

And allow for the mystery in the change. None of us can see into the future or anticipate everything that may come up for us. None of us can really know how this whole transition thing is going to work out…. it’s a process and a risk. We give up one thing to which we’ve become accustomed in order to try another thing to which we must acclimate. Some of that may work, some of that may not.

Allow yourself to acclimate, one day at a time.

Breathe through it, each and every day, mindfully, consciously, intentionally.

You’re going to be fine.

PAT BLANKENSHIP practiced law for 35 years as the managing member of Blankenship & Blankenship in Murfreesboro, Tenn.  In 2013, she turned in her law license for a yoga teaching certificate and has never looked back.  She has been practicing yoga, meditation and mindfulness for approximately 12 years and has been teaching for more than 3 years.  Her classes all begin and end with a few moments of mindful meditation, and she teaches her yoga classes as moving meditations, linking each movement to the breath and encouraging her students to “sink into” each pose, to take time to consciously and intentionally find all the benefit they can find in each pose. Over the course of the last several years, she has studied integrated nutrition, yoga therapy and alignment, Ayerveda and Hindu mythology, and she seamlessly incorporates all of these studies into a full and rich daily yoga and meditation practice.  She is currently enrolled in her 500-hour teaching certification and will graduate as a yoga specialist in 2017. 

She is a registered yoga teacher with The Yoga Alliance, and teaches Beginning Yoga in the Physical Education department at Middle Tennessee State University.  She is also affiliated with and teaches yoga and meditation classes for The Wellness Collective, Cleveland, Ohio, bringing health, wellness and fitness into the corporate office setting.