Making Mindful Transitions

by Milissa on April 24, 2011

in Mindfulness,Transition

I’ve been through several time periods in my life where I just did not know where I was going next. I felt that unmistakablle itch—an underlying dissatisfaction signaling that something needed to change—but I wasn’t sure what my life would look like once I got through the transition. I meditated, prayed, cussed out the Universe.

I agonized about my dharma, asking, “How do I serve, how do I channel my unique gifts?” And the answers were always too slow, I felt, in coming.

The good thing about having navigated more than a few of these major life transitions is that I can trust a bit more that I will get through them. Not only that, I’ve learned from experience that I will be so grateful that I had the courage and tenacity to make the changes once I am on the other side. It’s the not knowing that’s hardest.

About five years ago I was in that excruciating place of not knowing what I was being called to do next, when I came across a little book called Five Wishes by Gay Hendricks. I have to admit that, at the time, I was a little embarassed to have bought the book. I’d had it for quite some time before I actually cracked it open, thinking it looked kind of self-helpy. And God knows I’d done Self Help in a big way and thought I was done with that phase of my life.

The book is the result of a conversation that Hendricks had at a party when he was in his thirties. A man he’d never met asked Hendricks to imagine himself on his deathbed, pondering the question “Was my life a complete success?” And if it wasn’t, the stranger wondered, “What would have made it a success?”

Hendricks took the question to heart and came up with five wishes, or intentions, that he felt would insure he’d feel fulfilled in life. The book tells the story in detail of his process and invites the reader to ponder the question and make their own intentions.

I found that the exercises in the book were quite simple, but they worked brilliantly to shift me. Like Hendricks, I found this process to be lifechanging. (If you’d like to do it yourself you can order the book or download free worksheets on his website.)

Recently, there have been some signs of shifts to come. My body is telling me I need to do my work differently so that I can maintain energy and mindfulness in my endeavors. I’m feeling frustrated in not fulfilling my desire to express myself creatively. And, at the same time, right next to some anxiety about making changes, I’m feeling super excited—like I’m about to get on the most awesome ride ever!

It seemed like a good idea to go back to Hendricks’ Five Wishes. I pulled out the worksheet on which I’d teased out my most heartfelt intentions 5 years ago. I’ve fulfilled all of them! No wonder new yearnings now tug at my heart. So, I’ll be working with this process again. And soon I’ll be full on again, living the exact life I am here to live. My hope is that how I live will not only light me up, but will also benefit others.

If you give the 5 Wishes process a try please let me know. I’d love to find out what you discover and how your intentions unfold.

I’ve found that craniosacral therapy and mindful yoga support me in connecting with my deepest Self and bringing forward my intentions. Please contact me if you would like to receive support as you navigate life’s transitions.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachael April 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Thank you for these blog posts! I am deeply appreciating them as I try to complete the last two weeks of my masters degree. So thankful for your work. Look forward to finding my way to some Tree of Life Yoga again sometime.


nikki April 26, 2011 at 8:51 am

once again Milissa thank you for your insight. I think i have been feeling caught in what i would call a stagnant period for a long time now. At times the feelings wane but then they re-emerge. What I find is that is is getting more difficult for me to take risks as i age so if, and if is the key word here i can do these worksheets It will be a movement forward in itself.
I really appreciate your sharing some of your life challenges and the mindful way that you take a deep look into those challenges.
Your blog is most welcomed!


Laura April 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm

A very timely post for me–thank you. I appreciate your frankness about your initial concerns with the self-help-y aspects of the book and how you made the leap to check it out anyway.


Milissa April 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

@Rachael it’s been lovely to reconnect with you! Wishing you the very best as you graduate from grad school–a super big transition!


Milissa April 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

@Nikki what I loved about the 5 Wishes process is that it didn’t feel risky to make changes once I was clear on what I really wanted in my life. It felt natural. But I do hear that it can be harder to take a leap in mid-life. I’m personally feeling like I want to really be conscious of my life choices even more now. Now or never, as they say. Yet, at the same time I find I am a bit more patient and gentle with myself in my process than I was when I was younger. If things don’t change immediately I’m okay with making my intentions and then trusting they will unfold perfectly–even if it looks different than I’d imagined.


Milissa April 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm

@Laura thanks! If help is needed I’ll take it where I can get it. This was a good resource for me so I’m happy people are interested in trying the 5 Wishes process.


nancy April 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I think I will check it out, Milissa. I was recently talking to my sister who just turned 60 (I got to celebrate with her on my Mexico yoga retreat) – she said that she has been thinking about how the phrase “just say no” was so prevalent about 20 years ago (while she raised her kids). But lately, she’s noticed that “just say no” does not apply as she is maturing. Her new mantra is “just say yes”. I thought it was a great insight on how we can get stuck in paralyzing habits and even fear as we get older.


Milissa April 27, 2011 at 7:08 pm

@nancy I love your story about your sister’s “just say yes” realization. Many years ago I watched a film about French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. In talking about his WWII photograph of a boy in short pants with a magnum of wine proudly tucked under each arm, he said the boy’s demeanor expressed in the moment caught on film, “Yes, yes, yes yes yes yes!”


Erin April 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Milissa, I have not heard of this book but it sounds great. I am at one of those points in my life right now. Any guidance is appreciated. Thanks!


Milissa April 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Glad to point you in a helpful direction! Wishing you true happiness and fulfillment of your life’s purpose


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