When I was young, I discovered something about my father; he never drove the same way twice, or at least that’s what it seemed to me. Whether driving with him to Tully or Vermont to go skiing, or through the city to one hospital or another, accompanying him on his “rounds,” he was always seeking a new route.
I think my father would chalk this propensity up to his right-brained tendencies for adventurousness, spontaneity and curiosity. As a result, I learned a lot about how to get around Central New York, and in the process developed a pretty dependable sense of direction that has served well to get me where I want to go.
Keenly observing the lay of the land, and committing landmarks to memory as my dad drove, and noting that his awareness of the bigger picture aided him in creative problem solving when an accident or road construction would block our path, I learned there are multiple routes to the same destination.
However, sometimes we meet with an obstacle on our path, a lane closure due to construction, or a car wreck that has yet to be cleared, and there is only one way through. There are no exit ramps, no backcountry roads to detour onto, we simply must move straight toward what is in our path.
During these times of great transformation, the obstacles, or what we perceive as obstacles, acting as hindrances to our progress, become more amplified. We may feel as though everything and everyone is plotting to thwart our dreams and desires.
What appear to be the evil plots and machinations of others to deter us from reaching our goals, are simply the lessons we have chosen to learn in this incarnation, surfacing with more urgency and intensity. Again and again we are given the opportunity to expand.
They are not arising as punishment. The Universal Justice is only balancing itself, without judgment. These impediments are always and only based on our karma, or the Law of Cosmic Retribution, which we incurred as a result of our previous actions in past lives. Retribution simply means repayment. As we sow, so shall we reap.
We are now being summoned, called by our Souls to look squarely at what is in front of us. We are being challenged to drop all judgment, accusation, and blame of others, and to take sole responsibility for our own actions. From this place of awareness and acknowledgement we have the ability to respond and transform our circumstance.
“An action continuing through time and space, performed by human beings and perceived by human beings, all of whom are in the same space.” It sounds like a definition for “Life,” right? Well, according to David Ball, in his book A Sense of Direction, I am describing a Play.
Now, it is a given, in the world of Theatre, that conflict creates drama, or more specifically, dramatic action. It is a necessity in the structure of most genres of dramatic literature.
In the world of life, we can certainly see this same convention at work, or should I say, “play?” Shakespeare truly knew from whence he spoke, when he wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players….”
Dramatic conflict, in a play, is created when a character is prevented from getting something he or she wants. “The specific, limited thing the character is trying to accomplish, at this moment in the play, what the character wants right now, is referred to as his or her objective. And the specific, limited, thing, at this moment in the play that prevents the character getting what he or she wants is the obstacle.”
Dramatic Action is “the result of conflict: I want, I cannot have; therefore, I act. All action is rooted in desire. I try to remove the obstacle, so I can get what I want.”
“A play’s arc traces the resolution of a central conflict; that is, the conflicting desires of two or more characters. Each character’s desire prevents the other(s) from accomplishing his or her desire. The play is over when the conflict is resolved.” Are we still talking about a play, or does this sound remarkably like a description of life?
Action, in a play, is described as “the tactic the character takes, or the strategy the character uses to overcome his or her obstacle.”
Most often, as we can see, it is the means by which “one character tries to manipulate other characters into removing the obstacle to his or her objective.” Doesn’t this sound exhausting? But this is how many of us are living our lives.
In the theatre there are four types of dramatic conflict where a character is at cross-purposes with something or someone, which poses as an obstacle to his/her objective:
Now, you might say these categories could be applied to any of our lives, as well. I would say that is as much an illusion as any play you would see in the theatre. We are under the illusion that life is happening to us, and people and events are often serving as deterrents to our achieving what we want. But only one of these forces is at play in the “real” world. The only obstacle we ever face, and the cause of all the drama and conflict in our lives, emanates from within.
Anything that we perceive as an obstacle to our goals is just a mirror reflecting back to us our own handiwork. From my limited ego perspective, it may very well appear that my husband is impeding my desire to go back to school, because he hasn’t tried hard enough to find work after his lay-off, so I have to work two jobs to support the family.
It all appears very cut and dry on the surface, doesn’t it? He’s a lazy, good for nothing…while I’m working my tail off to support this family…. It’s not an unreasonable complaint is it? Not if we are only looking at appearances. But what may be hidden deeper under the surface?
Fear is always at the root of anything that appears to be an obstacle in our lives. If I look at my hypothetical husband’s situation a bit more closely, or, better yet, ask him to speak plainly about his reticence, I might learn that he is afraid to get back out in the job market for fear of rejection. He feels he’s been out too long and the tide has moved on without him. Younger applicants have far more knowledge of what’s new in the field, etc., etc.
From this vantage point, I may view his seeming resistance with a bit more compassion. Now, if I am brave enough to delve a little deeper, I may be willing to see that my husband’s predicament is a mirror for my own stuff.
As I meditate on what appears to be in my way, with greater self-awareness arises the honest acknowledgment that I am feeling nervous about going back to school. It’s been so long since I cracked a book, I’m not even sure I would know how to study again. I’ll be the oldest one in the class. It’s going to be so hard… etc., etc.
Focusing on his “laziness” is a very convenient way for me to avoid looking at my own fears. It appears he is the cause of my suffering, but he is only a reflection of a more deeply rooted current of fear in me.
The teachings of Abraham-Hicks tell us that it is never true to say those around us have got a lot of “stuff” going on that we do not. You cannot say, “My co-workers are such a bunch of complainers!” We always attract to us others who are vibrating at the same frequency, though what they manifest may appear somewhat different, a slightly different melody, the underlying chord, however, is always the same. “If they’ve got it goin’ on, you’ve got it goin’ on.”
So, why do we judge and blame and complain? These are tactics (our actions) that we use to deflect the focus away from our own stuff, the issues that we have not yet resolved. Quite simply, we project our own unconscious patterns onto others, because it is so much easier than cleaning up our own mess.
There is a wonderful parable floating around cyberspace that goes like this:
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?" The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."
And so it is with life... What we perceive, when observing others, depends on the clarity of the window through which we look. Our own eyes may be clouded with misapprehension, convoluted thinking, concepts and patterns of thought that have no basis in truth. We lose sight of what is happening, because we are distorting the lens with our own emotional baggage or misconception, and this fuels a thought that brings with it another emotion, and before we know it we have fabricated a very convincing story as to why we are not getting what we want.
More important to understand is that what seems to be in our way is always self-constructed. We are constantly creating karma, the by-product of our continual action. What we are experiencing is either the effect of a cause initiated in this life or a previous one, and we always, either consciously or not, choose these challenges as an opportunity for soul growth, or spiritual evolution.
It is always necessary for us to acknowledge the impediment, accept it, and welcome it fully into our lives, for resisting it will only magnify it.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states:
When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.
Our resistance only feeds the obstruction.
According to the I-Ching, “when flowing water, the quintessence of the Tao, meets with an obstacle in its path, a blockage on its journey, it pauses. It increases in volume and strength, filling up in front of the obstacle and eventually flowing past it. The obstacles do not spring suddenly in the way of the rushing water but are, in fact, inherent in the chosen path.”
The path that we tread, we chose at a soul level. Our soul, which has a far broader perspective, unlimited by the physical body or ego mind, is drawing to us exactly what we need to balance our karma. Also, what our soul is drawing to us we are.
At a purely physical level, everything is merely energy. As such, so are we, and all that we perceive as physical has its source in the Spiritual. So, whenever we judge or blame or resist, we are actually only directing that energy back at ourselves.
Recall Newton’s 3rd Law again, for a moment. Our thoughts, which are energy, exert force, just like any physical body. When we direct them at another, there is an equal and opposite force pushing right back at us. It’s no wonder we get stuck. We will never get past what we think is in our way, until we acknowledge, and lovingly accept that we are its source.
Each time we incarnate we take on a new role so that we may move through the “human drama” of life to gain more experience and greater understanding. We, in collaboration with our guides, choose the ideal setting, cast of characters and plotlines to follow, in order that we may raise our consciousness to new levels of awareness, and thus our soul to a more expanded state of evolution.
These life lessons are the ones our parents may have told us “build character.” They are hard, they challenge us, and they always force us to surpass our current definition of who we think we are, but they are always offered to us with the greatest love and purest devotion to our greater good, and we are never given anything that is beyond our ability to endure.
If we want to limit the “drama” in our life, we must limit the conflict. The easiest way is to cease all self-serving desire, which removes our need to act. When we are not acting, we are not creating karma, and we become pure channels for the flow of the Divine Life Force. When we are conduits for Spirit, there is nothing that can hinder our creation.
But for many, this may seem a lofty endeavor and far beyond our current capabilities. So what other option is there, as we learn non-attachment, when we come up against an obstacle in our path?
The key, just as with the water meeting an obstruction, is to pause. In doing so, we no longer empower or perpetuate the life of what seems an obstacle through our resistance; here we are simply able to be.
This pause is like the space between thoughts that we cultivate through meditation, or the pause between the inhalation and exhalation. The space is where all striving ceases, where all resistance subsides. In the space, we discover the opening that becomes the way through. This gap, this void, this pause is the gateway to our Higher Self, that aspect of ourselves that already knows the answer to our questions before we even pose them, and knows that this seeming obstacle is an illusion we have created to encourage our growth and move us further along the path toward home.
As Albert Einstein says, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it,” so we must be willing, when we come upon something that appears to block our way, to raise our consciousness by raising our vibration, moving from a state of solidity to a fluid state and become non-resistant like water. We pause, build in power and strength, by entering the God Space, and gracefully move through.
And if our movement still remains blocked, as mystical poet, Mark Nepo, tells us, “Perhaps we are meant to be still.”
Katrin Naumann worked for 20 years as a Theatre Artist, both behind the scenes as a Costume and Scenic Designer, and on stage, film and TV, as an Actor. She has been a lifelong adventurer on the path of Self discovery, which has led to her current role as Director of Inner Balance Life Works. Her holistic healing practice focuses on offering pathways toward (R)evolutionary Self Transformation. Katrin serves the community as an Energy Healer, Intuitive Spiritual Guide, Qigong & Yoga Instructor, Author, Public Speaker, and Workshop Creatrix.