In every moment, we have a choice to move forward or remain stuck. When we feel stuck, it feels as if the same old things are repeating themselves or we’re just going through the motions. “Stuckness” is a state of paralysis where you feel unable to make a change. This sense of stuckness is at pandemic levels right now. As a collective, we are suffering from anxiety, depression, and hopelessness more than ever before. Most of us crave change and want to be free from suffering, but we don’t know how to create such freedom. Above all, we will continue to perpetuate these negative patterns, conditioning, and beliefs unless we do the transformational work to get unstuck and free ourselves.
Where does a sense of stuckness come from? It comes from past patterning and conditioning that has created repetitive mental grooves in your brain. Neuroscience has studied these neural pathways that your brain automatically takes most of the time without your permission. This neural system has become known as the “default network.” When you are awake and doing nothing, the baseline resting state of your brain activates this default mode which tends toward negativity. This is because one of its functions is to be vigilant to environmental threats which creates a background for fear and anxiety to thrive.
Being in default mode can be helpful when you need to remember a skill such as riding a bike or driving a car. However, most of the time, it engraves negative impressions that keeps you stuck in the past and from living in the present. It also tries to protect you from any pain by always having an automatic reaction. Fortunately, your brain can override this default mode and become unstuck. It’s capacity to learn and change itself is called “neuroplasticity.” Through mindfulness practices, you can make incremental changes in your neural network. In fact, you can actually change the neuropathways in your brain that promote a more positive, present, and dynamic way of being.
Here are 5 Sacred Strategies to Move from Stuckness to Inner Freedom:
1.Practice Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation teaches you how to notice your thoughts and feelings without reaction. You become an observer of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Find a comfortable place where you won’t be distracted. Take a series of slow deep breaths. Now imagine your mind as a vast blue sky and your thoughts as white billowy clouds. Notice your thoughts move across your mind as clouds move across the sky. Don’t try to analyze, judge or get caught up in them. Just pay attention to the thought until it leaves. Start with five minutes and gradually build up to ten-fifteen minutes every day.
2.Notice Your Habitual Reactions: Give yourself permission to pause when you notice any habitual reactions. Once you have a negative reaction to someone or something, the brain defaults to the next negative reaction when you face the same or a similar person or situation. When repeated habitually, these negative reactions can turn into a negative, fearful, or depressed mindset. If this person or situation makes you feel irritated, upset, or angry, then, you are stuck in that reaction and you are responsible for changing it. Change your habitual reaction by simply staying present with whatever is arising in your awareness. Change your reaction to a positive response even if it’s just pausing or walking away.
3.Move Your Body: Moving your body tells your brain that you are unstuck. Taking your body for a walk shifts the stuck energy to forward movement. Practice mindfulness moving by taking your mind, body, and spirit for a walk. Start your practice by going outside in nature for a fifteen-minute walk. As you walk, focus on your steps and how your body feels as it moves one step in front of the other. Observe yourself taking a step forward toward the future and then releasing your back foot, letting go of the past. The space between your steps is the present. Pay attention to this space with present awareness as you walk.
4.Shift Your Perspective: Seeing life through a positive lens helps you embrace change. A change of scenery can do wonders to give you a new perspective. Take some time off and travel to a different place even if it’s taking a new way home from work. Appreciate the positive experiences in your life by attending to the present moment. Dwelling on your blessings and what’s working in your life will improve your mood.
5.Make A Choice: Fearful that you will make a wrong choice, you may become paralyzed and avoid choosing altogether. Not making a choice out of fear is still making a choice. Ask yourself: what if there wasn’t an obstacle? What if making a mess or a mistake was ok? What if my fear isn’t real? What if I made a new choice? What choice would I make? Then, make a choice even if it takes you in a different direction. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. It will give you the spiritual information you need so you can choose what feels right to you.
When you make a choice any choice, you courageously move toward what you fear and out of stuckness. Allow yourself to let go of repetitive patterns; break negative habits; and embrace change as a mantra for your life. I invite you to get in the daily habit of using these sacred practices. Take consistent action to shift from stuckness to freedom. This will create healthy new habits that promote trust, confidence, and transformation in all areas of your life.