If you have ever driven a car with a stick shift, you know that it requires a balanced combination of action and timing. I learned how to drive on a car with a manual transmission and it wasn’t an elegant process. At first, progress was measured in inches as I learned how to coordinate the clutch and gas pedals and shift gears, as the car died every few seconds. Now I can do it effortlessly and even though I have driven an automatic for years, I quickly master the manual drive after a few minutes in the car. Before I go more deeply into this topic I want to suggest that the struggles with shifting that we are having now are very much like this process and we need to remember what we already know in order to help this process proceed more smoothly. If we look at the process as a recall instead of a ‘start from the beginning’, it’s less frustrating and we will have a different perspective on the lack of motion, as well as the stops and starts.
When you learn to drive a car with a manual transmission, you quickly learn that every gear has a limited maximum speed. The car won’t go very fast in first gear, no matter how hard you push on the gas pedal. If you try to go faster than the gear allows, the car will just make a lot of noise. Increasing the speed requires that you switch gears, by depressing the clutch pedal, releasing the gas pedal, and moving the shifter to the next gear. If you try to move the shifter without pushing in the clutch pedal, the car will make a lot of noise, and you can cause some serious damage. Likewise, if you keep your foot on the gas pedal while trying to shift, the car will also make a lot of noise.
And you have to move from first to second to third gear, etc. because if you try to skip gears (unless you are going very fast), the car will actually slow down, cough, sputter, and die, and you will look like you don’t know how to drive (not to mention stopping in the middle of the road). The process of learning to drive a stick shift is painful (I know all too well) and it’s a matter of timing and coordination, which is a lot like the journey we’re on now. And while you are learning, the car makes a lot of noise. In fact, that’s how you know you’re doing something wrong, the car whines, clanks, coughs, and sputters a lot.
The odd thing about this process is that while the clutch pedal is depressed, the car is in neutral, and the engine is disengaged from the driveshaft. At that point, it doesn’t matter how much we push on the gas pedal, the car is not going to move any faster. We are also in neutral while we’re shifting gears energetically, and nothing appears to be happening. In reality, we’re still in motion and moving forward but we’re actually coasting until a higher gear is engaged, and then we can go faster. And if we try to go faster without giving ourselves any neutral time as we are preparing to shift gears, we may hear a lot of noise and while we may not do any damage, we can feel very stuck.
And I haven’t even mentioned what happens when you have to stop on a hill and as soon as you push the clutch the car starts rolling backwards. Then you just hope that the car behind you isn’t so close that you bump into them as you’re trying to coordinate the gas pedal and shift gears and start moving forwards.
This process is very much like what we are going through every time our energy is ready to shift, which is every time we look at our lives and wonder whether there is something else available for us. Our current dissatisfaction is the portal to new potentials, if we can give ourselves time to shift gears by getting through the neutral phase and use our ‘coasting time’ to assess where we want to go next. Wanting to always move forwards, to go quickly from one thing to another, to keep forging ahead, is part of being human. But our connection to our divine Will lies in the pauses, those moments when we have disengaged from our forward movement and are coasting, that we can be detached and assess our next steps.
It is in those moments when we can ask important questions like:
- where do we want to go next?
- what is our next best step (which is the one that serves us best, that is the most empowered and empowering, and most aligned with our intention)?
- how powerful can we allow ourselves to be?
- what are we willing to release and leave behind as we shift into another gear?
If we use this time to make a lot of noise, like complaining that we are not moving fast enough, we feel stuck, or we are frustrated with the lack of progress, we aren’t using the pause effectively and trying to move before we can shift gears. We will soon reach the limit of the gear (energy level) we are in and have to prepare to shift gears again. Eventually we can learn to use the pauses in powerful ways, to prepare for the next shift so that we flow into it with grace and ease, instead of with a lot of noise. Are you ready for your next shift? Is it a noisy process or does it seem to be moving very slowly? Try asking the important questions and use the power of the pause to empower your potential so you flow into your next energetic level with grace and ease.