There is a meditation I use when I want to explore places that are blocked or stuck on deeper levels. I think of feeling stuck or blocked as occurring inevitably, sometimes signifying places where who we are and what we’re doing with life are not in alignment. When feeling blocked, it’s easy to focus on the frustrating and defeating sense of being blocked and not the awareness of the parts of us in flow. If energy wasn’t moving, then it couldn’t be blocked. It would simply be still and contained.
I’m not, at this point in my career, a person who promises tools to help you get unstuck. There are great teachers out there who do that work. What I’ve found is that when I feel stuck the best way to get unstuck is to start doing the thing I feel stuck with. Yesterday I felt blocked about blogging and started to write a blog post about quitting blogging because I no longer knew what to write about, and as I wrote that entry, something in me shifted and I decided to write this instead.
Not everyone seems to respond to this approach, and I’ve experienced blocks that are very deep and ingrained. My approach to these–when I’m not myself feeling frustrated or beating myself up for being stuck–is to wonder whether this block is here for a reason. Is there some deeper purpose to being blocked? Is there something about the way I’m approaching this situation that defeats my intention? Is there something about this situation that is blocking me? Is this block a way of protecting myself from making a choice that could harm me, whether due to bad timing or a bad reading of the situation? Is this stuckness simply sloth, or coming from a fear of change?
Here is a contemplative practice that I use to get more information about blockages or places of stuckness. It is a variation on a meditation called the “Thousand Petal Lotus.”
Get into a comfortable posture with your legs crossed or your feet resting on the floor. With every inhalation, breathe in more slowly, more deeply. With every exhalation, breathe out more slowly and completely.
Consider a word or image associated with a place in you that feels stuck or blocked. Hold that word or image in the center of your mind. Notice what thoughts or memories arise. When you notice a thought or memory, acknowledge its presence, acknowledge its connection to the core word or image, then return to the core word or image. Continue this process of noticing and returning for several breaths.
Imagine that this word or image can sink from your mind, down your throat, coming to rest in your heart. Notice what feelings or emotions are present. When you notice a feeling, acknowledge its presence and connection to the core word or image, then return to the core word or image. Notice even if no feelings seem to come up, or places of numbness. Continue this process of noticing and returning for several breaths.
Imagine that this word or image can sink from your heart, down your solar plexus, coming to rest in your belly. Notice what physical sensations are present. When you notice a sensation, acknowledge its presence and connection to the core word or image, then return to the core word or image. Continue this process of noticing and returning for several breaths. Notice places of tension or ease, places of discomfort or places of numbness.
Let the core word or image stay in your center, but allow your field of awareness to soften and expand. Let yourself notice sensations, feelings, and thoughts, imagining that each of these connects back to the core word or image. Let these connections be like a spider’s web, connected to each other and back to the dense central core image or word. If you find yourself trying to analyze or make sense of your experience, breathe in and allow your awareness to soften, simply noticing what is present. Allow understanding to arise from this awareness, and not imposing meaning upon it.
Whether understanding comes or not, thank yourself for being present and engaging in this work. Acknowledge the work you have done and let the central word or image go. Bring your awareness back to your surroundings. Touch the edges of your body. Journal whatever information came up.