"Transitions" 7- Week Study Guidelines


We have all experienced so much change in the past few years and have probably under-estimated how much it has cost us emotionally and mentally. Life is change but we have endured some- thing quite extraordinary– a pandemic. Mostly the world has moved on and everyone just acts now as if it wasn’t a big thing. Yet, life has been altered in so many ways and it is easy for us to bypass the toll it took on humanity and on us personally.

The byline of the book is “strategies for coping with the difficult, painful, and confusing times in your life.” As a predominantly senior community we deal with lots of change almost on a daily basis. Things can turn on a dime as they say. Bridges encourages us to understand and appreciate what he calls the ‘neutral zone’ that we all encounter period- ically when change beckons. Liminal space is challenging as we prefer to already be on the other shore. But transition time is both necessary and formative in finding our new selves. It is part of our inner work and needs to be engaged in fully and patiently.

As always I encourage us to read this book as a community for the good of all and the awakening of humanity. The information in this book may be quite helpful to you or to someone in your life who is feeling overwhelmed by change. I have a feeling that this book will provide lots of discussion and insight for us all as we navigate our lives post pandemic.

 Rev Jere



Fall Program


Making Sense of Life’s Changes

William Bridges


A Guide For
Conscious Evolution


Study Guide for

Heart Circles



Heart Circle Guidelines


Confidentiality: Everything discussed in the Circle stays within the Circle.  “What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.”



Commitment:  Study companions arrive on time prepared to

participate by having read the material beforehand



Sharing:  Study companions refrain from offering advice and

attempting to “fix” anyone's life challenges.



Time:  Study companions are mindful to keep their sharing brief and to the point so that all companions have an opportunity to share equally.


Ice Breaker First Meeting

Study Group Companion Introductions


Pair up with the person next to you and spend a few minutes interviewing each other using the topics below. You will be introducing your partner to the group so you may want to take notes in the space provided below.


Interview Topics

            * Name:

            * Length of time attending Unity in the Gold Country:

               * Prior experience, if any, with other 7 week study groups at UGC or elsewhere:

               * Reason for feeling called to participate in this Heart


          * What you would like to gain from participating in this Heart Circle:









Part I
Being In Transition

“All is well and I am becoming
who I AM.”


pages xi –24





A Lifetime of Transitions

 “I Am grateful for change.”

pages 25--54





Transition and


“I am open to change and doing the work to grow.”

pages 55-76




Transitions In The Work Life

“I  am a mystery unfolding!”

 pages 77-100





Part II
Transition Process and Endings

‘To heal is to release illusions that we have embraced as truth.

 pages 101-132





The Neutral Zone

“I do my utmost to attain
emptiness; I hold firmly to stillness.”

pages 133-155





Finish With A New

I am an evolutionary Being divinely unfolding through the changes in my life.”

pages 156-184







Week One: Being In Transition

Preface, Being In Transition and Chapter 1 pages xi—24/Original Edition pages 1-25

1. What grabbed you in this week’s reading material?

2. Discuss the difference between transition and change. (p. xii/p 1)

3. Are you in a time of change and/or transition now? Have you lost faith that all these transitions are getting you anywhere? (p.3/ p3 )

4. Comment on your experience of Rule #1 (p7/p8).

5. Comment on your experience of Rule #2 (p11/p11).

6.Comment on your experience of Rule #3 (p15/p16)

7. What is your style in ending situations? (p15/p16)

8. What events brought change to your life this year? (refer pg 22-23/p22-23)

9. Do you feel that you have mourned your endings enough?

10. What was the most important insight you had from this week’s material?

11. Read the quotes for week one and comment accordingly.

Suggested Practice for Week One Oct 1-8

 Affirm: “All is well and I am becoming who I Am.”

Write a page about your coping style and history of endings. (p13/p13-14)

Write a page about your way of beginning things. (p17/p17-18)

Write a page about the aborted transitions in your life. (p18/p18)

Take the Holmes Rahe stress test https://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory-pdf

Google Gail Sheehy’s Stages of Adulthood


Quotes to Reflect On—week 1

We are going to have to do individually and consciously for ourselves what once was done for people automatically and collectively by their society...with the death-and-rebirth process.

Transition was the point at which I recreated myself. Personal transition is endurable if it means something. Many Americans are caught in a semipermanent condition of transitionality.

The subject of this book is the difficult process of letting go of an old situation, of suffering the confusing nowhere of in-betweenness, and of launching forth again in a new situation.

The book Transitions is based on a theory of personal develop- ment that views transition as the natural process of disorientation and reorientation marking the turning points in the path of growth.

Letting go is at best an ambiguous experience.

Some of the feelings you experience today have nothing to do with the present ending but are the product, instead, of the reso- nance set up between situations in your present and those in your past.

Transitions tend to send family members off to different tasks. Whether you are a dasher or a lingerer is largely the result of how you learned to avoid the ‘party’s-over’ experience as a child For our most important beginnings take place in the darkness outside our awareness.

The impact of transition upon us doesn’t necessarily bear any relation to the apparent importance of the change that triggered it.



Week Two: A Lifetime of Transitions

2nd Edition Chapter 2 pages 25-54 /Original Edition pages 27-56
1. What grabbed you the most from this week’s reading?

2. What unique associations do you have to the phrase ‘the end of childhood?’ How does it recall your past?

3. Looking back what did you need then? What can you offer young people going through adolescence/childhood now?

4. What style did you develop that stays with you today? p30/p32

5. How was your transition from childhood? From adolescence?

6. How did forming a separate identity go for you? p32/p34-35

7. What memories and feelings do you associate with ‘being on your own’; and trying on roles and relationships?

8. Discuss the 3 steps in the homecoming process. p50/p52'? 9. Did you sacrifice part of you to settle down? p39/p41
10. Have you had a case of ‘the nevers’? P41/p44
11. What do think you have to unlearn? P45/p47

12. Is your life now more in tune with the Spirit? p50/p52-53
13. Your comments/questions about this past week’s material?

Suggested Practice for Week Two Oct. 8-14 

Affirm: “I Am grateful for change.

Become conscious of ways you die before you die.
Make a list and write about your most significant transitions and the developmental issues they involved. P51-52/p53-54
Recall your most difficult transitional birthday and write about it.


Quotes to Reflect on: Week Two

For transition is simply the way in which one’s life unfolds.

At 30, 40, 50 you are still likely to be making the changes that complete the great life-transition to personal independence.

Whenever we enter a new transition, some of the old identity issues are going to reemerge.

We have tended to to treat everything as if its essential nature were that of a product.

The very people that one would normally talk to about personal problems may be the ones that you are having 2nd thought about.

And I feel like I missed the first hour of the race. I’m going to have to run like hell to catch up.

How you handle the transitions that are prompted by second thoughts can determine the course of your life for years to come.

In the short run, these people seem to gain by avoiding shifts that others are going through; but in the long run, they lose.

In the clear water of self-knowledge and service, many people find at last what they were meant to do and be.

It is the transition process rather than a thing called “a mid-life transition’ that we must understand.

A man consumes his large supply of masculine substance and has left over only the smaller amount of feminine substance, which he must now put to use. It is the other way round with a woman.

There is Calypso’s promise: “stay with me & never grow old.”

In a time of transition it is important to clarify what is actually yours and how much is cultural overlay.



Week Three: Transition and Relationships

2nd Edition Chapter 3 pages 55-76/Original Edition Chapter 3 pages 57-82

  1. What grabbed you the most in this week’s reading material?

  2. In terms of the motion or cycle of change where are you at?

  3. Discuss how personal changes affected a partnership. P 59/p62

  4. As you reflect on the place of sex in a relationship what have you concluded?

  5. What is your experience of family systems in your life? p65/p68

  6. What story line might be evolving in your life right now? p67/p69

  7. What inner resources did your relationship develop? p69/p72

  8. Did you have to grow on your own or did your partner consciously grow with you? p69p72

  9. Discuss the checklist on p73-76. What resonates?/p78-82

10. Your comments/questions about this past week’s quotes

and material.

Suggested Practice for Week Three Oct. 15-21

Affirm: “I am open to change and doing the work to grow.”

Spend time each day in gratitude for those who helped you grow.

Reflect on the phenomenon of ‘interpersonal resonance’ in your family life.

Pay attention to those in your life who lift your spirit.

Pick an important past relationship and re-evaluate it in light of the material in this chapter.



Quotes to Reflect on: week 3

It takes a long time to be really married. One marries many times at many levels within a marriage. If you have more marriages than divorces within the marriage, you’re lucky and you stick it out.

People change and forget to tell each other.

Maybe a marriage has only so much shelf life.

I feel like I left myself a thousand miles back, somewhere.

The problem was simply a signal that the time had come to stop something– an end of the line.

It was a sif the wife was in violation of an unspoken rule by being in transition.

Relationships are always structured by unspoken agreements, although people are seldom conscious of it.

Each of them becomes a less-than-whole person, and each becomes a stand in for the side of other’s personality that is not being expressed within the relationship.

I have come to regard it as more than likely that husbands or wives seeking help and advice for a spouse had better face their own need for help first.

Some of the most difficult transitions within a relationship occur when the power center shifts from one side to the other.

But they will have a far harder time finding help with the issue of how to change or how to let each other change within a relationship.

A relationship, like the lives that come together to form it, has its seasons and its times of turning.



Week Four: Transition in Work

2nd Edition Chapter 4 pages 77-100 /Original Edition - this part seems to be integrated into the previous chapter

1. What was your childhood dream for your life? Did it happen?

2. Did the emphasis on succeeding derail your happiness? p78/p76

3. Would you say your life was fulfilling or full of regrets ?

4. What is it time to let go of in your life right now. p87/p81

5. What is possibly standing in the wings waiting to make its entrance in your life?p87-88/p81

6. Are you more getting ready to live life or, actually living it?.

7. How was your ‘mid-life’ transition or crisis?

8. Comment on the Householder and the Forest Dweller. p83/?

9. What new meaning have you found in retirement? p96-97 Have you found a more spiritual meaning of transition?

10. Comment on #3 from page 99

11. Your thoughts/questions about this week’s quotes and material.

Suggested Practice for Week Four Oct. 22-28

Affirm: “I am a mystery unfolding!”

Research more on the Hindu idea of Householding, Forest Dwellers and Sanyassin

Create a ritual to help you process transitions.

Spend some time in gratitude for your life experience.

Forgive yourself for life’s mistakes, misfortunes or failures.



Quotes to Reflect on: week 4

Whoever in middle age, attempts to realize the wishes and hopes of his/her early youth invariably deceives him/herself.

Attempts to reinstate your old motivations by reward or punishment are as futile as trying to keep leaves on the trees once they’ve started to fall.

...the transition from being motivated by the chance to demonstrate competence to being motivated by the chance to find personal meaning..

The final quarter of life is the time of Sannyasin, the one who emerges from the Forest Dweller phase of life with a much deeper understanding of life and the self than people have found in earlier phases.

The rhythm whereby being is followed by letting go, which is followed by emptiness, which is followed by renewed energy and purpose which is followed again by being.

Out there in The Forest, through taking stock of what life has taught them, the people who found a way to do the developmental business of mid-life discovered the deeper, the more spiritual meaning of transition.

The old need to grow into wholeness, to combine everything into a ripened completeness, is what I described as the product of having been through transition often enough to understand the tremendous value of living through times when letting go is the only appropriate response to life.

Our conventional idea of retirement does indeed need to be transformed, but all the talk about creative living arrangements for older people etc...all those things are diversions that distract older people from the work that needs to be done, for society and for their own good.



Week Five: Transition Process & Endings

2nd Edition Chapter 5 pages 101-132/ Original Edition Chapter 4 pages 83-110

1. What grabbed you the most in this week’s reading material?

2. Have you had times when there was ‘no there there’? p101/p84

3. Discuss the Rites of Passage and 3 phases on pages 101-104/p84-88

4. Share a challenging time of transition you have had.

5. Discuss each of the 5 aspects listed on p 109/p92.

6. Do you identify with the ‘participial identity’ in your life?. p117/97

7. Share a time of disenchantment? How did it change your life? p120/p100

8. What old answers, patterns do you tend to fall back on? p127/p108

9. What part of the 5 part cycle do you think you are in right now?

10. Which part is the hardest for you to endure? p109/92

11. Your thoughts or questions about this past week’s material.

Suggested Practice for Week Five Oct.29-Nov. 4 

Affirm: ‘To heal is to release illusions that we have embraced as truth.’

Practice being not doing.

Pay attention to your dreams and subconscious messages.

Write a page about your participial identity. Make up a Rite of Passage for this time in you life.



Quotes to reflect on: week 5

But Rites of Passage are not techniques for doing something but lenses through which to magnify the experience of something. They are simply a way of focusing and making more visible the natural pattern of dying, chaos and renewal in the universe.

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

Considering that we have to deal with endings all our lives most of us handle them poorly.

..for her real need was to find out how to let the person-that-she- had-been die and go through a renewal process.

My self-esteem as a woman and as a person, was all tied up with his reactions to me. He was my mirror. Now I don’t know how I look any more.

The disenchantment experience is the sign that you ready to see and understand more now... we often miss the point and simply become disillusioned.

The problem is that before we can find a new something, we must deal with a time of nothingness. And that prospect awakens old fears and all the old fantasies about death and abandonment.

Transitions start with letting go of what non longer fits or is adequate to the life stage you are in. You need to figure out for yourself what exactly that no-longer-appropriate thing is.

For one person, an ending may be an event; for another, it may be a state of mind.

It is the internal things that really hold us to the past.... Endings are the first, not the last act of the play.



Week Six: The Neutral Zone

2nd Edition Chapter 6 pages 133-155/ Original Edition Chapter 5 pages 111-131

Affirm: “I do my utmost to attain emptiness; I hold firmly to stillness.”

Schedule some down time for yourself each day.

Think about writing an autobiography. What message would you like to impart or share.

Keep a dream journal by your bedside

  1. What grabbed you the most in this week’s reading material?

  2. How do you relate to stillness or emptiness. p 133-34/p112-113

  3. Have you used down times in your life transitions p 134-35/p113-114

    How or what did you do?

  4. Have you had information imparted to you in dreams? Share

  5. Do you have a spirit guide who helps you. Share.

  6. Have you ever gone through a time of depression related to transition? Share your experience p138-139/p117-118

  7. What is your experience of the great emptiness of the neutral zone? How did you cope and get through it?

  8. Discuss the author’s view of ‘chaos’ p 141/p119

  9. What has been unlived in your past? Can you do something about it now? What do you still really want?

  10. Your thoughts or questions about this past week’s quotes and material.

    Suggested Practice for Week Six Nov 5-11 

Affirm: “I do my utmost to attain emptiness;

I hold firmly to stillness.”

Schedule some down time for yourself each day.

Think about writing an autobiography. What message would you like to impart or share.

Keep a dream journal by your bedside

Quotes to Reflect on: week 6

For us, ‘emptiness’ represents only the absence of something.

Transition time is seen as a kind of street-crossing process. One would be a fool to stay out there in the middle of the street any longer than necessary.

Yet, even as we distort and misunderstand the neutral zone, we live it out unwittingly in our lives.

Only in the seemingly aimless activity of your time alone can you do the important inner business of self-transformation.

To deny the neutral zone is to lose the opportunity it provides for an expanded sense of reality and a deepened sense of purpose.

We need to discover which neutral zone activities the old rituals were designed to facilitate and then discover our own ways of doing those things.

The process of transformation is essentially a death and rebirth process rather than one of mechanical modification.

First, you’ve got to understand what your doing in the neutral zone, and then you’ve got to see why it’s important to stay there for a while– and then we can talk about what to do.

The process of disintegration and reintegration is the hsource of renewal.

The first of the neutral zone activities or functions is surrender– one must give into the emptiness and stop struggling to escape it.

We have abandoned a system of dealing with the neutral zone through ritual, and we have tried to deal with personal change as though it were a matter of simple readjustment.


Week Seven: You Finish With A Beginning

2nd Edition Chapter 7 and Epilogue pages 156-184/ Original Edition Chapter 6 pages 133-159

1. What grabbed you the most in this week’s reading material?

2. Do you tend to look for a savior to bring you desired changes?

3. What are you waiting to have happen to you?

4. Share a story of ‘luck’ or coincidence that changed your life.

5. Share how you used the power of imagination to create your life? 

6. Do you feel like your life is over and done pretty much?

7. What was the most challenging change you ever dealt with?

8. Have you seen the ‘hand of God’ in the changes in your life?

9. What deep longing do you still hope to fulfill?

10. Discuss the four things to do on p 169-173/p145-149

11. What are the main lessons or ideas that you take from this book? Has it changed how you experience change and transitions?

Suggested Practice for Week Seven and Hereafter

Affirm: “I am an evolutionary Being divinely unfolding through the changes in my life.”

Sit for 5 mins. and imagine the change you so desire.

Read some scripture stories, fables, legends or fairy tales and see if they speak to you symbolically of your life situation.

Ask the universe for direction in your life.



Quotes to Reflect on: week 7

Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great.

There are times when I long for a simple way out,
a procedure to follow rather than a process to understand.

The beginning so of all human undertakings are untidy.

What isn’t finished is the inner realignment and renewal of energy, both of which depend on your being immersed in the chaos of the neutral zone.

This is why in archaic cultures the myths describing the creation of the world are recited over a sick person. By making the patient symbolically contemporary with Creation, he lived again in the initial plentitude of being.

No wonder it makes such a difference how a culture views birth.

As much as we long for external signs that point the way to the future, we must settle for inner signals that alert us to the proximity of new beginnings.

With many people the first hint came in the form of an ‘idea’ or an ‘impression’ or an ‘image’. It involves imagining a scene or activity and feeling attracted to it.. Something like a half-formed daydream. Sometimes the hint comes in the form of a dream.

Genuine beginnings depend upon this kind of inner realignment rather than on external shifts, for it is when we are aligned with deep longings that we become powerfully motivated.

New beginnings are accessible to everyone, and everyone has trouble with them.

The only way to do anything is the old, slow, safe way. The guard is a prisoner too, you know.