For years I led a meditation group. A good number of folks were faithful to this weekly gathering, a quite important factor because every one of them extended their self-intent to the group as a whole through presence and commitment. Consequently, when we came together we were able to dive deeply—immediately.
We always opened with breathing together, to leave the day behind and connect with each other energetically. Then I would open the circle for sharing before we moved on to guided meditations. One time during the open frame a long-time participant asked a question.
What is the edge of limitation?
It was an astounding question, one I’m not sure I adequately answered in that moment. It was a question that—over time—framed a journey of my own, an odyssey into self-inquiry and the nature of a spiritual journey. I went on to write an entire chapter on this question in Standing Stark and, in the process, generated other queries to further define the question. Some of them are below.
Where is the meeting point between complacency and possibility?
Where is the meeting point between pain and healing?
Where is the meeting point between control and surrender?
Recently I was camping in Utah with friends. When we get together we’re in the habit of exploring such territory. So, sitting around an evening campfire, I brought up the question originally posed to me. Thoughtful discussion unfolded. We may have had different words for that edge—but we all recognized it. With their permission I’m sharing excerpts of our conversation.
- …the duel…as one decides or is compelled to take the risk of expansiveness or remain stuck…
- …looking from the inside, fear is as far as I can go—the limitation…from the outside, I cross the “edge of limitation” as I conquer the fear.
- …a balance point between growth and fear, then maybe as the high tide mark—which moves and shifts—between those two.
Clearly, the edge of limitation is something you lead up to—unless you’re merely fantasizing. New considerations will open to places that are unfamiliar. I use a variety of metaphors to describe that state. Perhaps it’s a dark forest where the path isn’t visible. Maybe it’s a membrane you bump up against; to break through the sheathing involves an identity level shift: how you are in the world. Or it’s a threshold, the precipice where a decision is made to retreat or move forward. So the edge of limitation is the pinpoint in thought, time and space before Separation from the old self of status quo.
One time I asked retreatants to do an exercise I drew from NLP. They chose an area of their lives where they experienced a block. Then I invited them to choose two spaces along a line they imagined on the floor. The first had to do with the edge that, if they moved beyond it, would take them through the threshold to freedom. Second, they chose a space along the line, prior to the first space, that signified their degree of resistance regarding the issue. The farther back they stood, the greater the degree of discomfort or blockage. Some had their backs up against the wall; others were poised close to the edge. I invited them to try something out; to physically walk along the line, out of the space of resistance and up to the edge; and if they chose, to cross the threshold to what lies beyond. To a one, they did. Their responses ranged from displays of relief to calm to abject jubilation. Fear vacated and possibility took its place.
Sometimes it’s just that simple to open the way.
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