Everywhere I go I run into people who are either in transition or wanting to be. They are aware of the cyclical nature of their behavior and lives and want to break that cycle but struggle with how to get started.
How do I begin? How do I know if I need to really make a change or if I’m merely going through a phase? Even if I know it’s time for a change how do I know what that needs to look like?
These are crucial questions. My first advice is that if you’re thinking you need to break your cycles of action and reaction then you most likely are already in the process of transition.
Next I would advise figuring out the places where you are stuck and why. Embedded in this sense of being stuck is normally fear which leads to confusion. Try to imagine that no matter what you do it will work out. Picture yourself past the transition and to whatever next step you are pondering. If that looks good to you then it’s not a question so much of if but how.
Getting unstuck is a process we will find ourselves in a few times in life during major times of change. If no matter what you do you still feel stuck then it’s a larger question of self realization which leads to a new definition of what will make you happy.
Here are some steps to begin getting unstuck which I call active awareness:
Find a quiet spot that you know will allow you at least twenty minutes of no interruption.
Sit down comfortably with your hands loosely in your lap
Keep your shoulders back and your head slightly down so you can breathe easily
Cast your eyes down just in front of you at a forty five degree angle, but don’t close them
Settle like that for a few minutes
Then begin to just pay attention to your breath as it goes in and out of your nose.
This will help you to concentrate your mind and settle yourself
Now as thoughts arise, don’t talk to them in your mind just notice what types of thoughts randomly come up.
After twenty minutes. Get up and get on with your day.
Thoughts will arise throughout the day and you will continue to notice them without giving them a lot of attention. Thoughts are not reality, they are just your perceptions. Be open to observing those thoughts and if you begin to form opinions about people or events you may coach yourself to say; “That’s just a thought. I don’t know yet if it’s true.”
If you do this daily or at least several times per week insights will begin to evolve about yourself, your active awareness and where you are stuck.
It also helps to have someone who can feed back to you the things you say most often so you can hear your own patterns..but that comes after you’ve begun to master some beginners mind awareness.
It’s also important to note that every time you feel unhappy or a bit lost does not mean you are truly stuck. We cannot always be happy. The fact that there is suffering is the first truth. To know if you are just in a suffering phase is to examine that suffering completely. Invite it for tea and hear everything that suffering or unhappiness has to tell you. If you try an internal dialogue after calming yourself as described above which accepts the suffering and asks it to inform you, answers will begin to emerge. Be mindful of those answers and be open to hearing them fully.
Sometimes what you are doing or with whom you are doing it does not need to change, sometimes it’s about how we are approaching things which can be modified and provide profound change and liberation. Wisdom is knowing the difference between making big changes in your life or just viewing it differently.
So, if you like these little pieces of Zen please use them wisely and let me know. You could even hit the follow button so it comes to your e-mail.
As we like to say at the Zen Center; “Vast is the robe of liberation, a formless field of benefaction…”
Being happy and free is not nearly as hard as you think!