The Beauty in the Threshold

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Here’s another definition of “Threshold”. It is from a beautiful podcast from - an interview from 2008 with author, poet, theologian, and philosopher - John O’Donohue.

Well, I think that the threshold — if you go back to the etymology of the word “threshold,” it comes from “threshing,” which is to separate the grain from the husk. So the threshold, in a way, is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness. And I think there are huge thresholds in every life. I mean I think, for instance, to give a very simple example of it is that if you are in the middle of your life in a busy evening, 50 things to do, and you get a phone call that somebody that you love is suddenly dying — it takes ten seconds to communicate that information, but when you put the phone down, you are already standing in a different world, because suddenly, everything that seemed so important before is all gone, and now you are thinking of this. So the given world that we think is there, and the solid ground we are on, is so tentative.

And I think a threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit, and I think that very often how we cross is the key thing. 

Where beauty is, I think, is — beauty isn’t all about just nice loveliness, like. Beauty is about more rounded, substantial becoming. And I think, when we cross a new threshold, that if we cross worthily, what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us that had us caught somewhere. And in our crossing, then, we cross onto new ground, where we just don’t repeat what we’ve been through in the last place we were. So I think beauty, in that sense, is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.

- John O’Donohue

Threshold Exploration : Hypnagogia

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The dictionary defines the word ‘threshold’ as a point of entry or as a level at which something comes into effect. There are so many examples of physical thresholds all around us - doorways, gateways, borders, property lines, and much more.

The threshold I would like to explore today is the one between wake and sleep or sleep and wake. This is the kind of dream / imagination zone between two worlds, a liminal space sometimes even referred to as that “trippy space” or “twilight zone”.

This is the space many inventors, artists, writers, musicians and entrepreneurs embark to seek inspiration and creativity. Albert Einstein and Salvador Dali were two famous and frequent hypnagogic flyers.

Hypnagogia pertains to the state of consciousness when falling asleep. There is also a term for the other side, the Hypnopompic state which refers to consciousness when waking from sleep.

A scientific researcher at UT Austin, says that “Hypnagogia is the shortest path for communication from our subconscious mind...(which) might send you solutions through imagery or other sensations.”

It is here where Tinker Bell tells Peter Pan how to find her, “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

If you are searching for your beloved, you may be moved to go to this place. First set your intention of connecting and communicating with your loved one, breathE and relax into this magical space just before sleep or as you awake. It is there for all of us to access and part of what makes us human.

I was inspired to write this threshold post after seeing the new remake of Mary Poppins Returns.  The nanny who crosses a dimensional threshold holding her umbrella, sings this heart touching song to the children whose mother has crossed. Sweet Dreams!

Do you ever lie at night

Just between the dark

And the morning light

Searching for the things

You used to know

Looking for the place

Where the lost things go

Do you ever dream

Or reminisce

Wondering where to find

What you truly miss

Well maybe all those things

That you love so

Are waiting in the place

Where the lost things go

Memories you've shed

Gone for good you feared

They're all around you still

Though they've disappeared

Nothing's really left

Or lost without a trace

Nothing's gone forever

Only out of place

So maybe now the dish

And my best spoon

Are playing hide and seek

Just behind the moon

Waiting there until

It's time to show

Spring is like that now

Far beneath the snow

Hiding in the place

Where the lost things go

Time to close your eyes

So sleep can come around

For when you dream you'll find

All that's lost is found

Maybe on the moon

Or maybe somewhere new

Maybe all you're missing lives inside of you

So when you need her touch

And loving gaze

Gone but not forgotten

Is the perfect phrase

Smiling from a star

That she makes glow

Trust she's always there

Watching as you grow

Find her in the place

Where the lost things go

Songwriters: Scott Wittman / Marc Shaiman

Song: The Place Where Lost Things Go