Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When You're Stuck

I'm reading a book I'm really enjoying, If the Buddha Got Stuck; A Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path by Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D. What I particularly like about it is that she presents seven "simple yet profound steps on the path to change." They are:

1. Notice When You're Stuck. "Be aware of your unrest, unhappiness, and longing for something richer, more balanced, and meaningful."

2. Show Up. "With curiosity and fascination, go beyond your prescribed life and explore the world beyond your usual--rituals, beliefs, and habits..."

3. Pay Attention. "Go deeper into the experience of inner awareness on a moment to moment, daily basis...You notice when you are tense, afraid, hungry, tired or in need of comfort...Paying attention is grounded in the body and expressed through these questions: What is right for me? What do I really want to do? What is my body telling me?

"You also start to notice your mind--how opposing voices argue, censor, judge, and reel off the same stories day after day. You become aware of the allegiance you pay to rules and beliefs --being nice is good, angry is bad, you should never talk back, you can't do that--and start to notice the limitations those thoughts create."

4. Live in Reality. "Sort out the past from the present. Is this flame of anger connected to my childhood or is it appropriate to this current situation? Am I feeling relaxed and clear--like a grownup--or uneasy and afraid like a child?"

5. Connect with Others, Connect with Life. "Genuine connections ease anxiety and help assuage our essential aloneness. They provide the secure base from which we can venture into scary places, celebrate our joys, and take risks, knowing someone is there either to cheer for us or catch us if we fall."

6. Move from Thought to Action. "Taking action becomes the process of how you live on a daily basis--from taking care of your body to signing up for a class, completing tasks, speaking out when someone is hurting you, getting out of bed early to take a walk, watering the plants before they wilt, throwing away the excess stuff that clutters your life. It's about movement, flow, energy, shifting, and shaking up the status quo.

7. Let Go. This step means that we stop grasping at all that is temporal--mind, thoughts, body, life situation--and experience being one with aliveness that penetrates all things. Instead of being the 'doer,' we experience an expression of life that flows through us.

So, what's holding you back? What step is most difficult? As Dr. Kasl asks, "What regrets would you have if today were your last?"


P.J. said...

My hardest step is, for sure, "Move from Thought to Action". I tend to have a lot of thoughts and ideas, but it's getting going and putting those thoughts into actions that I tend to be slack on - mostly due to my procrastination and lack of planning!!

Jazz said...

What's interesting is that these are all really simple, accessible things..in many cases, all that is needed to get unstuck is a change in attitude and perspective.

Mariposa said...

Thought provoking post...as I got through each item, I made some quick realization...then comes the question...I think it won't be regret that I'd have to deal with, it will be more on items in my wishlist...things I want to do/to have...

And yes, I get stuck into something once in awhile...the worst part is when I am about to rise beyond it bec I am to get a clearer picture of what's going on, I still choose to stay in the rut. Human nature I guess, our homing instinct towards pain...sometimes it's healthy, sometimes it backfires, but then, I'd like to believe when that crucial moment comes, we can always find that one good reason to let go...to move on. I pray that LOVE for ourselves would that reason.

Gianna said...

I've read this three times and all I can think is, this is the way I try to live...

I simply can't break it down further than that right now...my brain feels fried...

thanks for the post.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear P.J.,
Well, the first step is to know what's holding you back. My son procrastinates as well, and I've read a few interesting books on the topic! Hope Dion is doing better!


Wellness Writer said...

You're right. Kasl's advice, which is truly far better than I could share in a brief post, is very easy to implement.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mariposa,
I agree that self-love, which is really just a case of high self-esteem, is really important. We all get in ruts sometimes. I think it's just identifying them, and figuring out how to move forward!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Gianna,
What I like about Kasl's thesis is that she's taken an entire philosophy and reduced it to seven points, which are really easy to remember and implement.


Gianna said...

Actually Buddha broke it down into 8 steps thousands of years ago:

1)Right Effort
2)Right Concentration
3)Right Mindfulness
4)Right View
5)Right Intentions
6)Right Speech
7)Right Action
8)Right Livelihood

of course much can be written about each aspect of the Eightfold Path but I like to keep them in mind in their simplicity too.

modern language helps some people a lot too...certainly I like to read about this philosophy in the myriad ways it's been dealt with. I remember reading about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path for the first time in college and thinking, My god, I'm a buddhist.

I'm not a buddhist, but the philosophy has served me well and will continue to.

Wellness Writer said...

Thanks for letting us know. I keep on saying I'll read more on Buddhism, but why should I when I have you? (smiling face)

P.S. I know you're not a Buddhist or on expert on this, but you know way more than I do.

Catatonic Kid said...

Great post. I really like the language Kasl has put it all into. Deceptively simple on the one hand but also very accessible.

KJ said...

I loved this post. I am printing it and taping it to my computer. I think I am a little stuck so I am going to move through these steps to get unstuck!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear CK,
I agree. The book, which is small and not terribly long, is really well written, and the author provides lots of good advice.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
I have posted the seven steps on my bulletin board, just to remind me what to do on a bad day!