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Wellness Matters 18.06.2021

Transitions and Rites of Passage


I have become curious about transitions and rites of passage this week as many of my former colleagues and friends and current clients are thinking longingly about the school summer holidays. These holidays will be like no other after the painful restrictions enforced by the coronavirus pandemic. I applaud all teachers and support staff for their stickability and resilience. Your holidays are very well deserved.

I know all too well that, as a teacher, ‘holiday’ can be somewhat misleading because, in reality, many teachers only really switch off for a couple of weeks. Previously, for me, a 6 week summer break from school would mean 2 weeks to decompress, 2 weeks to really let go and enjoy my time out of school, and then 2 weeks to start to mentally build back up again.

I really hope that teachers accept these holidays as an opportunity to allow themselves ample time away from thinking, planning and anticipating the return in August.


I became curious about transitions, and rites of passage and so I researched further and settled on an explanation about rites of passage found here:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/rite-of-passage

There are 3 significant rites of passage in life often referred to light-heartedly as hatch, match and dispatch, but this definition created by Arnold van Gennep after conducting an extensive survey in 1909 resonates with me.

“Gennep held that rites of passage consist of three distinguishable, consecutive elements: separation, transition, and reincorporation….. Although the most commonly observed rites relate to crises in the life cycle, van Gennep saw the significance of the ceremonies as being social or cultural, celebrating important events that are primarily sociocultural or human-made rather than biological.”


Considering the significance of transitions at each stage in life, and breaking down the core elements has enabled me to think how I can approach transitions in my life so that reincorporation is manageable and sustainable. If I consider that separation does not have to be painful or unpleasant but an opportunity for growth, and transitioning is about reflection and preparation, then reincorporation can be joyful, enlightening and life enhancing.


I have my wellbeing toolbox of course, one of which is sea swimming and twice this week I took myself down to the beach for a spontaneous solo swim. Within minutes, the impact of the cold water slowly creeping over my skin, causing a sharp intake of breath, allowed my body to take over from my busy mind. I breathed mindfully, inhaling long deep breaths, blowing out slowly until a natural breathing pattern settled. 20 minutes later and I was rejuvenated, with a clearer plan for the next steps in my life/work balance. A small but significant transition: moving from a place of over thinking by separating myself from my environment, before returning, renewed and able to focus.



As the months glide by I get so much satisfaction from mentoring and coaching sessions, and that this is enough to sustain me. I do have some availability to welcome more clients so please share this blog with colleagues, family or friends so that they can experience being well with #catchinglightwellness.




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