Transitions can be difficult for everyone. Getting out of bed. Starting a new school or job. Ending a relationship. Starting homework. Leaving the couch…
Transitions are especially difficult for those with AD/HD. It is a hallmark of the disorder.
I have an especially unique challenge transitioning from one position to another. This is brutally apparent when I am doing yoga. (FYI – my yoga teacher is hard core. If you are not sweating profusely and praying for the class to end after 20 minutes, you aren’t really doing it right.) Due to my connective tissue disorder (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome), I must be especially mindful moving from one position to another so I do not tear, dislocate or pull anything. Regardless of the type of transition, I notice the longer I am in one position, the harder and more painful it is to transition into the next position. Once I get there, I am fine.
This is a lot like life. If you stay stuck in any one place for too long, it can be very difficult to move forward. We can become complacent. We can fear radical change even though we know it is necessary for our happiness/sanity. Sometimes the place we are stuck in (relationship, job, emotional rut, self limiting belief, spiritual plateau) can become so painful or unpleasant because we have been there so bloody long, we collapse and then have to move because staying there is no longer tolerable. This happens in yoga when you are in, let’s stay, the extended chair position and your thighs are burning and shaking so badly, you fall out of the position only to go on to the next after a period of recovery.
I love working with young people. Most are very quick to shift their perspectives once they realize a new one is available and more pleasant. They love the forward movement because as they have grown and developed through their first 20 years of life, they are used to constant change. Every year brings new classes, schools, friends, body development, awareness. Change is normal for them. This is not true for most 40 year olds. Their mental constructs and beliefs about themselves and the world are pretty set. It takes them longer to step forward in their growth. Some have lived in anxiety and fear for so long it has become something of a security blanket. Change isn’t always the exciting adventure it can be for a 20 year old. It can mean extraordinary adjustment and emotional turmoil.
A healthy 20 year old who experiences a breakup typically moves on pretty quickly. A person experiencing the end of a 20 year relationship can find the shift terrifying. There is so much to be undone and rebuilt. So, similarly to me sitting in a chair for 20 minutes, I can get up and start walking pretty easily with minimal pain. However, if I am at a theater and have sat in one position for 3 hours, my husband may need to help me up, and it will take me a minute to allow my joints to adjust to the new feeling of movement.
My point here is to honor how difficult transition is for each of us. Some have challenge with even the smallest transition. Those supporting this person may need to offer a kind hand to assist with easing the transition just like my husband helps me out of my chair when I request his aid. For parents of AD/HD children, know that this is truly a baffling challenge even for the child. They do not understand why they experience such challenges with transitions. Only the wise adult can understand and empathize and assist appropriately.
This may look like staying by the side of the child instead of just instructing and walking away. I have noticed with some AD/HD adults, all they need is the offer of support for them to be able to proceed with a task they find daunting. Knowing someone is there for them who is not judging them is everything. It gives them the courage to proceed.
I have also observed in yoga that sometimes I need to prep for a quick transition. If I am deep in a lunge for a minute and then am asked to quickly jump switch the lunge, my body can’t do it. If I gently bounce a few times to warm up the joints, I have no problem with the maneuver. This is true for life transitions. If you have been curled up on a couch for a couple of hours, it may not be feasible to hop up and start cooking or leave the house. Take the transition slowly (this especially applies to getting out of bed). Be deliberate in your steps and be aware of your five senses. Maybe you start with adjusting the lighting until you acclimate. Then remove the blanket to adjust to the new temperature. You may stretch your limbs to prepare for the transition to standing. Consider what you need emotionally to leave behind where you are and then move to the next stage once you have met that emotional need no matter how trivial it may seem.
This is so important when doing spiritual growth work. As many of us can attest, spiritual growth work is not easy. (It can be for the really enlightened, but for most of us it is typically does not occur with grace.) As we grow spiritually, we may leave relationships that we now recognize as unhealthy. We may change jobs so they are more in line with our life purpose meaning possible financial insecurity. And the further you go in your spiritual development, you find fewer and fewer people who can truly relate to you. You may attract lots of interested people who want to know how you found such inner peace, and you find yourself, well, lonely for friends who are at the same level of awareness. So, preparing oneself for the transition is critical or one can end up in a bit of shock once they are in their new way of being.
This preparation occurs inside your emotional and mental bodies and the heart. I have watched some race through spiritual work. It is a rare person who can do this. Going through the motions without taking the time to integrate the new knowledge and awareness is pointless. We must consider where we are, where we are going, what must be left behind, what must adjust, and exactly what we need to care for ourselves along the journey.
Every transition in life requires us to look within and figure out exactly what we need. If we can do this consistently, transitions become less daunting even in yoga!