Below find a simple exercise that will assist you in getting unstuck, and an important invitation to add novelty to every aspect of your life. Novelty invites you to wake up while consistency supports you in being asleep or sleepy.
Getting Unstuck Can Be Fun and Easy
I was sitting in a mansion on Long Island, a mile from the Atlantic shore. Outnumbered, 14 to one, in the presence of the immense power and flexibility of women. I swooned.
At issue that moment was the desire of one of the women in the course to have her family clean up after themselves. They moved into her NYC apartment and squatted. Not an ideal situation and made worse by their tendency to leave dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor and garbage short of the can.
She doesn’t want her family there but that remains unthinkable to her. She has to want her family, even in so few square feet. Until the thought “get my family out of my apartment” shows up she will attempt to train them.
She desperately asks “How can I get my family to clean up after themselves?”
I pause to drink in the inherent, obvious and less obvious repercussions of her question. (Few people ever know what they are actually saying when they speak or when they are silent.)
I can’t solve this problem for her, she has to solve it herself. In doing so she will discover resources she doesn’t know she has. She is also likely to be surprised that what appears to be a structural problem, having the family there, is actually a procedural problem, how to get rid of them. They are baby birds stuck in the nest and much too big for it. They must fly or fall or both.
She, like the rest of us, defines herself, occupies herself and is consumed by problems. She consumes her energy with error correction in a world without error. She braces herself against the sensations associated with existence by being busy fixing stuff. She thinks that if she can just have her family be neater her life will be better. Of course it won’t be, but that doesn’t stop her, or us, from thinking that a solution will somehow relieve us.
She, and you, will not expire with one more or one less problem than you have lived with.
She wants them to pick-up after themselves so that is what we explore. I ask her “Can you get your family to clean up after themselves?”
“No” she says.
“Can you get your family to clean up after themselves?” I ask again.
“No, she repeats.
“You aren’t allowed to use the same answer twice.” I say. “Can you get your family to clean up after themselves?”
“Perhaps.” she says as her facial muscles relax into curiosity.
“Can you get your family to clean up after themselves?” I ask again.
“There is a way to do that” she says.
I continue to ask her the same question and she comes up with different answers. Some answers please her, some upset her, some free her while others just distract her from the alleged problem at hand.
She discovers great flexibility within herself. A flow of questions and answers. Her answers range from predicable, to tame to ridiculous to impossible and entertaining. She, in the process, shifts her perception from the problem to possibility and back again. She converts a question about what she should do with her family to an answer about herself and her flexibility. Soon she is smiling and laughing.
She moves from the perception of being stuck and unable to interact effectively with her family to celebrating her own playfulness. She has done this in just a few minutes. She views her family and their mess quite differently than she did just five minutes earlier.
What if you couldn’t give the same answer twice?
Your problems just might melt away. The sun might rise on a perpetually new you with greater possibility and a bit less stuckness. You might perceive your problems as doorways into possibilities. Just pose the same question and vary your answers. Various/endless answers invite the exploration of the vastness of you and provide continually new views of who you are inspiring problems not to stick.
Life as a Flow
Life is an ongoing flow. It is you blooming consuming/embracing possibilities at an alarming and awakening rate. A problem blocks that flow, slows you down and is roughly like putting the brakes on. Possibilities accelerate you while problems slow you down.
Sometimes you need to slow down and sometimes you need to speed up. Your mind seems so fast but it can’t really keep up, ensuring that you will experience being behind. To slow things up your mind creates problems, damns, to slow down the tide and tributaries of life flowing.
When you perceive that there is a problem, that problem is a blockage of the flow of life. If it is a big blockage it is a big problem, a small blockage a small problem.
Problems don’t really slow anything down, but they seem to. Each moment continues to effortlessly slide into the next. Your attempts to stop or slow up this process have you resist the passage of time and the presence of space.
You define yourself by your problems. You talk about your problems. You use your problems to get going in the morning and you ponder them when you go to bed at night. You pretend that your problems are the villains in the melodrama of life.
Yet your life continues to flow without resistance, without hesitation.
You boss needs you to work harder or longer or smarter. Or maybe you don’t have enough time or money or your kids are driving your car or driving you up the wall. Your spouse is a potential source of problems too.
You can’t be two places at once when you want to be everywhere all the time.
All of your problems boil down to complaints about Earth and the way things seem to work or not work here. At the root of your problems are resistance to time or space. There is either too much time or too little time or too much space or too little space.
Learning to perceive life as an ongoing flow puts problems in perspective. In fact, enlightenment is perceiving life at the speed of light, which is very fast indeed. But it is the speed at which you perceive.
Your greatest ally in the exploration of life as flow is novelty.
The Power of Novelty
Answer the phone with your other hand. Put on your other pant leg first. Eat with your other hand.
Learn a new word each day and use it. Feel into your smile, or watch yourself smile in the mirror and explore other smiles.
A few months ago I had a new roof put on my home. For the next few days I noticed roofs everywhere I went. My world was full of roofs. Noticing roofs had me look at the world differently. It had my world be roof richer and it also brought my eyes above the horizontal making me more visual and a bit lighter. From roofs I began to notice clouds and the tops of trees. Again, my world got lighter.
Years ago I had a coaching call with a woman. She was depressed and not inspired by life or living. Things were looking down, and she too was looking down. I invited her to look up: to notice ceilings and airplanes, to follow the profiles of trees upward. This simple suggestion changed her life. She lightened up and as she did so she began changing things around her. She opened the curtains, cleaned up her house and invited friends over for the first time in a long time. She may not have been aware of it but she also shifted from a primarily auditory inner dialogue to a visual world which was colorful and entertaining.
There is nothing wrong with looking down or talking to yourself in your head. But anything that becomes too repetitious gets in the way of the exploration of life as flow and discovery of possibility.
If you sweetie rubs the back of your hand it will probably feel good. But if they do so over and over in the same spot for long your skin will become inflamed and turn into a wound.
While consistency may seem safe it is flexibility and novelty that really reward you for paying attention. It is novelty that makes Earth interesting, entertaining and the most amusing destination in the universe.
You can begin adding novelty in little ways. You can sleep on the other side of the bed, take a different route to work or turn your TV off if you usually have it on. You can even sleep with your head at the foot of your bed, rearrange furniture if you have had it the same for a long time or get into your car through the passenger or back seat. You can play all day making your world new and watching with new eyes, feeling into new experiences and listening with new ears.
You can listen to the tone of someones voice and try and emulate it. You can read a book upside down or spend a day without screens. You can eat something you have never eaten before.
Adding novelty to your life will remind you that life is a flow, that you are always flowing and that when you attention gets stuck you get stuck, when your attention flows your life gets going and you are in for the ride of your life.
PS Notice the moon this week. Notice how big it is at the horizon and how much smaller when it is higher in the night sky. Drink in the moonlight, filling yourself with celestial awe.