Snakes Shed Their Skin and So Do We… Breathe Through Life’s Changes

by Aileen

Life transitions are inevitable.

I was in Mexico with G (my husband) and we were looking at the Mayan Ruins. He has a more logical way of thinking about things and I have more of imagery, poetic, way of looking at things. I was visualizing what life was like then and living it out in my mind feeling a bit saddened that it only has some remains and he looked at me and said,” Aileen, it’s life, it’s evolution, things have to change. Trust me you wouldn’t want to live that way.’” Then a tour guide started talking about the beautiful ruin we were looking at  “that’s where they performed the human sacrifices” and he pointed out the discoloration on the stone was bloodstains. I put my camera away and stopped dreaming. Yes, life moves and nothing stays the same.

“This too shall pass”…reminds me of the cyclical nature of life and the impermanence of all things.

As a snake sheds its skin, we too shed ours both literally and figuratively. When one phase is over we find ourselves pulling off to the side taking refuge, protecting ourselves from the outside forces as we go through the process of forming our new skin.

We exhale as we recognize and accept the old ways aren’t working and the new way isn’t formed just yet. It can feel like we’re in limbo.

If we are impatient we will wrestle with the stillness that is needed for the transformation as we wildly crave a quick growth spurt instead of the slow itchy transition.

When we are shed our skin acceptance often isn’t easy. There is nothing to latch on to. The ‘in between’ state contains uncertainty, it lacks security, it is unknown.

The most we can ask from ourselves in this state of transition is active acceptance, being present and aware, in touch with what we are feeling and experiencing. The active side of the non-doing is very different from stagnation.

The down cycle of transformation can be a time for regeneration as we connect to a slower pace of active non-doing.

Lately I haven’t been very good with non-doing. My wild enthusiasm has taken over for now. I can be impatient with myself as I try to lead my way. It can be a struggle knowing when to surrender to the road I’m on or take control and put myself on the road I want to be on. Once we know that we are capable of designing our life it can be a challenge to know when to surrender and accept, and when to fight to make something happen.

It brings me back to “If it’s gonna be, it’s up to me” or “If  it’s meant to be it will be”.  Do I take action or just be? The stronger we become with being in tune to the language of life, the clearer we understand the subtleties, whispers and feelings.

My wish for you today:

If you are forcefully pushing up against walls with exhaustion, I wish for you acceptance to allow it to unfold… to just be.
If you are in stagnation, not active acceptance, I wish to kick you into action

Beyond words there is the language of life. May you hear it. Listen and respond.

Photo Credit Flickr wwarby

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Daniels June 21, 2010

“If you are force­fully push­ing up against walls with exhaus­tion I wish for you accep­tance.”

Such a simple, yet outstanding reminder. And so amazingly difficult to do. Like a lot of people, I juggle many tasks every day and often get so caught up in it I forget the things that are really important. Thanks for the reminder.


Aileen June 21, 2010

Thank you Karen


Jean Sarauer June 21, 2010

Hi Aileen. One of my uncles passed away this morning and it reminded me yet again that our life here is so short. Changes in our circumstances and health are inevitable, yet each moment is filled with the richness of life if we just stay open to it.
Jean Sarauer´s last [type] ..What My Father Taught Me About Blogging


Aileen June 21, 2010

Jean, I am sorry to hear of your Uncles Passing. Remaining open when death happens to a loved one is one of the biggest challenges. I wish you a sense of inner peace and the ability to breathe through this. You are so right, “Changes in our cir­cum­stances and health are inevitable” they happen if we’re ‘ready’ or not. I wish for you inner peace and inspiration today


Angela Artemis June 21, 2010

Hi Aileen,
This post couldn’t come at a better time. I feel as if you were speaking directly to me with all the changes I’m dealing with I sometimes feel as if I’m not on solid ground anymore.

This, in particular resonated with me,”When we are shed our skin accep­tance often isn’t easy. There is noth­ing to latch on to. The ‘in between’ state con­tains uncer­tainty, it lacks secu­rity, it is unknown.”

I do know exactly how it feels to be in the quandary as to whether I should make things happen, or let them unfold too.

Thanks so much Aileen. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who deals with this.
Angela Artemis´s last [type] ..Global Healing June 21, 2010: Urgent Call to Action


Aileen June 21, 2010

Angela, right now I think you were the tiara of change and transition. I continue to be inspired by your choice to live a big life.
It does take a giant amount of daring boldness to let go and breathe when there is no solid ground under us and we’re not quite in flight with our wings working.


Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point June 21, 2010

Hi Aileen,

I love “Breathe Through Life Changes.” I’m in transition right now though I can’t fully identify what this transition looks like. There are these life lessons that I find I have to keep re-learning; that I never master, which is just fine with me. I’m not a fan of the word “patience” because it feels passive and passionless. I prefer “have faith”. Not all the pieces will come together right away, but they will in time. THey always do.

I really appreciate the wishes you include at the end. It feels like a soulful blessing.



Jane Rochelle June 21, 2010

Hey Aileen,
I love your story about the Mayan ruins. So often I’ve wished for simpler times….dreamy about movies like Little Women. Then I remind myself, no Novocaine, high infant mortality, chocolate was a luxury! Yikes! It’s great to appreciate where I am right now, and I try to concentrate on not looking too far into the past or the future. A commenter on one of my recent posts reminded me that we can’t be who we were, and who we wish to be. What a powerful concept!
Thanks for the great post!
Jane Rochelle´s last [type] ..I’ve Been Pulling Weeds…All Must Be Well


Clearly Composed June 21, 2010

I that term active acceptance.I have been working in the past with really taking time to experience feelings and honor their presence and it is anything but passive. It’s great to see this transition explained with such heart. :)
Clearly Composed´s last [type] ..~ Thoughts on Rebuilding Trust


Walter June 21, 2010

Change is a law of life, but it’s funny how humans can be very stubborn to change. Perhaps it’s the reason why many of us are in misery, we cling to our old self despite it’s inappropriateness in our current lot. Everything evolves and it’s a big mistake to resist our own. :-)


Chania Girl June 21, 2010

You (and Angela too) I know are in the middle of big life changes right now. And the in-between stage between skins can be a very sensitive, emotional, trying time for many reasons plus the ones you’ve mentioned. I can only tell you from my experience that (1) I’ve been there and (2) do everything you can to just be. You will need the relative quiet of this in-between time to shore you up and fill you with the energy you will need for the next stage in the journey.

A beautiful post. Thinking of you (and Angela) both.
Chania Girl´s last [type] ..The Big Break-Up


Leah McClellan June 21, 2010

This is a great post, Aileen. I’ve had a bunch of transitions over the years, and 3 really huge ones. I’m just now coming toward the end of a third time of shedding a skin–boy do I love your analogy. Yup. shedding a skin. I love snakes, which helps lol But it can be uncomfortable–when the hell will things settle down! OH I want some security! Oh I want some regular stuff and predictability in my life! Nahhhh, it’s all good, process is good and fun and wonderful and exciting! That’s on a good day :) Most days are good days these days, and on rough days, well I tell myself–you will live, and you’ll feel better tomorrow :)

Yeah, life moves. Even if we lived in times–or in a culture–when human sacrifice is the norm (um, we still sort of have it) we would be fine because we’d be used to it….
Leah McClellan´s last [type] ..Cops, robbers, and traffic tickets


Mark June 22, 2010

Very well stated. There is so much more beyond the words. The words we use both out loud and within are the tip of the iceberg. The bulk of what we receive and send is unspoken and is unseen by those who are not aware.
Mark´s last [type] ..Negative Thoughts


LPC June 22, 2010

Aileen, I think it’s really true, sometimes just to do nothing, and wait, and watch, is in fact the best way to move forward in the right direction. There’s never any one answer, there’s just staying true to how you ask the questions for yourself.
LPC´s last [type] ..News From Around The Blogosphere


Alison Kerr June 22, 2010

The analogy of shedding a skin, like a snake does, really resonates with me. I read recently a comparison to having no anchor and being adrift when we are undergoing change. I liked that analogy too, but I like the snake one better because I love nature :-)

Thankfully we still have gravity to keep us grounded. I find when I do yoga that I appreciate gravity all the more and feel better for it. If only I had the self-discipline to do as much yoga as I need…
Alison Kerr´s last [type] ..Six Paths to Finding Happiness in a Garden


Katie June 22, 2010

Aileen, this is a beautiful post. I know it’s not all about me, but I couldn’t help but make it all about me. I feel like I shed one skin a few years ago, never quite new what to do with my new self so sat in that state of quiet, active acceptance that I was brewing something. I listened and heard my blog call it’s name out to me one day. Sounds crazy, but it just did. I’ve been kicking it into gear ever since. Really insightful and layered post. Thanks Aileen for helping me see my journey in yet another way.

Jean, I’m sorry for your loss and send you a heartfelt hug.
Katie´s last [type] ..A Slacker’s Guide to Getting Things Done


LOUISE June 23, 2010

Shedding skin, shedding life’s reality, changing….. this piece brings to the forefront that each day brings something new and our life is constantly changing. Let’s look to the beauty of this day and give thanks – I can imagine the MAYAN RUINS and stop for a moment and appreciate life. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.


Madeleine Kolb June 24, 2010

Aileen, I too loved this post and the snake-shedding-its-skin metaphor. I’ve
been thinking about change because this past year has been one with a lot of
change in my life. Change is never really easy, even good, welcome changes, such
as getting married or having a baby. And those are changes that one chooses
usually).But how does a person deal with disastrous change like the oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico? Perhaps I’ve been reading too much bad news in the
Madeleine Kolb´s last [type] ..Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Games?


John Sherry June 24, 2010

‘This too shall pass. is a powerful mantra Aileen. It gives strength and encouragement during troubled phases of our lives. Well done for highlighting it within the post.

And comparing it with snakes at first seems unusual until you read the content and you realise the perfection of the comparison. In truth I have shed many a skin in my life and will continue to do so. This post reminds me that it is an entirely natural process of letting go and moving on. Mother nature’s species are masters at this and it is us humans that need to master it in return. An informative article I really got something from.


ashok July 19, 2010

Right now I’m very happy because stagnation has receded some. There could be more progress – much more progress – regarding some issues I’ve been working hard on. But it’s nice to know that effort actually does effect some positive changes.

Your general point is exactly right. Sometimes just being a bit more patient is the key, “not-doing” as you say.
ashok´s last [type] ..Posts on Greek Drama and History


snake care January 4, 2011

Wow this post was so informative. The interesting thing is that we always seem to learn from our pets.
snake care´s last [type] ..King Snake vs Coral Snake


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