Let’s start at the end. With the abject terror of leaving something behind. The next thing is scary. There, I said it. But endings aren’t endings unless we let them be. Instead of inhabiting the fear that lurks beyond, we can begin again.
We have to, over and over, because endings are infinite and inevitable. In yoga, we practice navigating samsara, the endless cycle of death and rebirth. Through studying life’s many literal and figurative deaths, we work toward accepting them and moving forward. It’s one of the many ways we learn to sit with discomfort, break the cycle, and emerge with a shiny, new sense of self.
In Comfortable with Uncertainty, Pema Chödron writes “The opposite of samsara is when all the walls fall down, when the cocoon completely disappears and we are totally open to what may happen, with no withdrawing, no centralizing, into ourselves. That is what we aspire to, the warrior’s journey.”
Of all my struggles, in writing and in life, navigating change has been the most challenging. My endings are usually long and drawn out. Or nonexistent. I’m tempted to snuggle into my cocoon, butterfly be damned. The discomfort of moving forward is too much and moving on takes immense courage.
In the spirit of breaking my own cycle, I should share that this is my last post for da Shop blog. It’s simply time for my new beginning. I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing this space as much as I have. I’ll be using every tool I know to find comfort in all the newness coming my way.
I know I’ll reach for my favorite books during this time. One such tome, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, perfectly exemplifies courage in the face of samsara. It tells nested, intertwining stories. Every chapter is a beginning and an ending. “But the world is strange and endings are not truly endings no matter how the stars might wish it so,” Morgenstern writes.
Her characters continuously leap into their next rebirth. The walls are falling down, their cocoons are split wide open, and they find a way to navigate challenges with a warrior’s courage and curiosity. When I finished reading, I immediately wanted to start again from the beginning to discover new connections and hidden bits.
So, how can you defy the stars and courageously fly into your next creative adventure? When it comes to personal projects, endings aren’t simple. It’s common to feel a sense of loss as a project concludes. Or to feel lost yourself. And then there’s the anxious anticipation of starting something new.
Let’s summon courage by returning to the start. In my first post, I shared Julia Cameron’s morning pages exercise from The Artist’s Way. Times of change are rife with internal and external noise. Writing three pages every morning will help you find quiet and explore what lies ahead. Remember, these pages don’t need to be pretty, they don’t even need to be about anything. They just need to get what’s inside, out.
I’m hardly an expert at endings. What I do know is I’ve become pretty game to fly in the face of what scares me. Continuous death and rebirth will do that to you. My best advice is to stare down the dark. Sit with it, feel it, then leap.
Endings are built up to be something wholly unattainable — all’s well that ends well, leave a lasting impression, stick the landing. But know that for every graceful butterfly, a few emerged with crumpled wings. And as Morgenstern says “No story ever truly ends as long as it’s told.”
Here’s a secret: the ending loses its power once it’s over. Once you begin again, you’ve cleared the first hurdle. Mindful endings pave the way for shiny, new futures. We have to brave the dark, but we can choose who emerges.
Michelle Regan is a writer and yoga teacher who's passionate about sharing all the ways in which yoga and creativity can be transformative forces in our lives. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and petting all the dogs.