Threshold State

If you know me at all, you know I’m a big fan of thresholds.
Gateways. Portals. Passthroughs that usher us from one cycle to the next.
An invitation for us to pause, reflect, step over that invisible line with intention and presence.
We cross dozens of thresholds a day from the moment of waking to the moment of again sleeping.
Each threshold acts as a marker. The suspended instant-that-might-just-be-a-nanosecond that allows us to fully breathe out the experience we are leaving and breathe in the experience we are entering.
For the purposes of this writing, I’m turning toward the passages that are wider and longer than the threshold blips that pepper our every day. The ones that are more of a marathon than a sprint, an ode of many stanzas. Ones that command our attention and intention, sometimes ask us to lay prostrate so that we can attune to the new rhythm being scored in real time.
There are endless categories of thresholds, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are a symbol for the meeting of endings and beginnings.
Moments in time that ask us to let go of one thing while we extend ourselves toward that which awaits us.
Whatever threshold, however great or small, our willingness to acknowledge the threshold-ness of it is what can move us through those times in a way that is remarkable and potent, indelible and instructive.
Even when – especially when – those thresholds are marked by grief and loss, disorientation and resistance. The thresholds that we may not want to stand on, would rather turn from because they aren’t over in the snap of a finger and ask us to sustain a state of not knowing.
The reason I like thresholds as a metaphor is that it can be engaged as a very physical thing. Particularly when what we are experiencing is decidedly not physical.
We can invite the threshold to become a tangible thing in our mind’s eye, a reference for our passage. Allow ourselves to tune into the sensation of straddling a doorway, one foot on one side, one foot on the other, as we make the physical effort – the gesture, stretch or leaning – that will move us through to the other side.
By “physically” placing ourselves in this threshold place – the Threshold State, I call it – we give a signal to our body that we are standing in a place of naturally opposing energies: the simultaneous presence of an ending and a beginning.
This goes a long way with the central nervous system, because we’re providing valuable context and rationale, giving our system the okay sign that this is exactly where we are supposed to be, however uncomfortable, however long.
Particularly when tough emotions are present, we normalize discomfort and confusion with this acknowledgement; give those emotions space to breathe and stretch, rather than being repressed or made to be wrong.
Because while some doors swing open and closed quickly, others require a hefty push or a near-bottomless well of patience before they budge. We can be straddling a threshold for some time as we weigh the circumstances, our spirit taking the time it needs before being ready to shift forward.
By giving our body a map, a navigation system, we help to regulate the experience of being in the Threshold State. Which, by its very nature, is a state of incompletion.
And human nature often drives us to seek completion as much as possible, because uncertainty and lack of completion are often accompanied by feelings of anxiety, pain, restlessness, and dis-ease.
This can be especially true when we are plunked on a threshold unexpectedly, the timing not under our control or of our making.
Acknowledging that we are in the Threshold State gives our system the opportunity to orient and attune, to receive a signal from us that yes, this feels difficult (or mildly uncomfortable at the very least), and we can be here and move through this passage if we take a breath and begin to accept the circumstances. Settle into the knowledge that we are being alchemized across a threshold for a reason, even if that reason doesn’t make itself clearly known.
Granted, sometimes we come to a threshold willingly and with great excitement. I think of certain birthdays or changes of season when I’ve leapt across the threshold, joy and anticipation my willing companions.
That said, even those events can have their crusty moments. Weddings where the family dynamics get a little wonky. The welcome ending of a destructive relationship that still leaves a gaping hole in its wake.
The good news is that this practice – of looking the Threshold State in the eye and feeling it in the body – is cumulative and bolstering.
The more we remind ourselves that the presence of opposites is something that we can withstand, that we can experience without expiring, the more we stretch ourselves to be in the Threshold State with equanimity and ground – dip into a well of resilience because we have taken the time to stand on thresholds both wide and challenging with awareness, presence and yes, eventually, acceptance that allows us to do it again and again as the cycles repeat.

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