I set out one chilly grey Thursday in mid-July to travel to an old stomping ground. I was headed to Sugarbush, VT for a reunion of sorts. My entire family would be there, save my children, who were in Edinburgh Scotland with their Dad, step-mom and stepbrother.
My journey there took a circuitous path, which is my way. I developed an affinity for traveling the scenic route from my father, who never drives the same way twice. The backcountry roads took me through towns like Graphite, Riparius, Sodom, and Hague.
I was met with a brief but intense downpour that cleared the heaviness from the air, as I rounded Loon Lake. I continued along the eastern flank of Lake Champlain, just as the clouds began to break. The sun escorted me into The Green Mountain State, kissed the tops of the trees then dipped beneath the horizon at my back. The sky, vivid cobalt, was still light, though the sun had receded. The rest of the drive, it remained masked by the peaks that grew up around me.
As I approached the final leg of my trip, I came to a proverbial fork in the road. Either I could take the Appalachian Gap, which is a well-maintained two-lane highway through the mountains; a way I have traveled often, or I could brave the Lincoln Gap, which I had never driven before.
While I pondered my options, I was reminded how often we face these junctures in the journey of our lives. We are continually being presented with choices. Each holds its appeal. The one is tried and true, comfortable, and safe. The other offers potential risk, and may conjure fear, because it is an unknown quantity.
I decided to take the road less traveled, in part because it shaves a good chunk of time off the drive. But I was also feeling rather adventuresome, and the desire for a different experience. Invoking the spirit of my dad, this day I would try a new route.
Now the Lincoln Gap has the illustrious distinction of being a pass that is closed from November through April, because of the treacherous nature of the road conditions during the winter months. It begins, benignly enough, as a charming country road, dotted with quaint New England farmhouses.
The route lulls one into a false sense of security, in a gentle assent. The road starts out paved then turns gradually into a dizzyingly serpentine gravel obstacle course that snakes its way through the mountain pass.
I thought fondly of my old Subaru, once I transitioned to “off road” conditions. My little Toyota held on for dear life as we made our way through hairpin turns and switchbacks. The 4 Wheel Drive vehicles parked alongside the road snickered as we passed. My Corolla, valiantly huffing and puffing like the Little Engine That Could, inched her way to the top.
The metaphor for life was becoming ever more apparent. While I traced my way through the Gap, past experiences flashed before me in dramatic detail. How many times had I found myself heading in a direction that seemed harmless at the onset, only to realize at some moment further down the pike that I was venturing into territory that was seemingly way beyond my abilities or know how.
When I reached the summit, my mind was temporarily distracted from the climb. The vista held me in awe, as I overlooked a pristine lake, framed by tall white pines, etched into the side of the mountain. I was tempted to pull off to take in the full grandeur of the view, but thought better of it, as my family awaited my arrival.
So, I set off down the other face, somewhat reluctantly, wishing I could remain to watch the day undress herself for night, just as a few faint stars began to dot the curtain of sky stretched out before me.
I was quickly jolted back to reality, as the gravel surface rapidly transformed into a pitted, potholed washboard, with a grade that was dauntingly steep. There were no run-off ramps on this road to stop me should my brakes decide to fail.
It was like I had gotten to the top of a ski trail, having innocently followed the blue squares toward the intermediate slope, only to find myself careening down a black diamond mogul field.
I was startled to see bikers breezing past me with only clingy tanks and shorts, and feather weight helmets to shield their fragile forms, in the event that they, well… I banished the thought…
I marveled at their fearlessness. How totally vulnerable they were, yet so free. Every sinew in their bodies working to reach the top, like Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summiting Everest. Then in seeming free fall they race down at speeds that boggled the mind. I honored their determination, courage and faith, aspiring to know that sense of power and liberation in my own endeavors.
The dizzying decent was at once terrifying and exhilarating. I hugged the shoulder closely, as the road was narrow, and cars climbing in the opposite direction sped around corners quickly, catching me off guard. My well-worn tires had difficulty making traction, and occasionally I could feel my grip slipping.
At times, I daringly let up on the brake to enjoy the thrill of the speed, until a gravel skid brought me back to my senses, loudly declaring my cockiness had found me way out of my element, and dangerously close to peril. I slowed to a much more reasonable pace, deciding it was infinitely more desirable to get to my destination in one piece. I rolled into the drive on Norwegian Way, just about dinnertime, unscathed, yet invigorated by the experience.
The following day offered yet another adventure that highlighted the contrast between playing it safe and leaping empty handed into the void, and how difficult it can be to make the choice.
Saturday morning, after a breakfast of yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, and decaffeinated green tea, we set out for the nearby village of Waitsfield, where we would collect our gear for a leisurely float down the Mad River.
A friendly young man, who gave us the requisite safety drill, delivered us to the launch point, then off we went down to the bank, inner tubes in hand. There was a large boulder, the kind only a glacier could deposit, to the right of a small waterfall that we had to go over to move into the flow of the river.
The water was clear, cold, and the pace brisk, as I was drawn toward the falls by the current. Though I was one of the first to venture in, I was the last to go over the falls, as I spent some time taking in the scene around me.
I drifted, in my bright blue tube gently in the direction of the falls, and then plunged a couple of feet over smooth, water worn limestone, my vessel hugging the rock face, the water unwilling to spit me back into the flow of the river.
For a time, I was unaware of my predicament, as the sun was warm on my body, and I enjoyed the refreshing spray that cooled my skin. I gazed up and noted the stunning contrast between azure sky and emerald pines, not a cloud to be seen.
Then it finally dawned on me; I was stuck. I was caught in an undertow of sorts that kept pulling me back toward the rocks from which I was unable to extricate myself. My inner tube, unlike the others, was designed with a plastic mesh screen across the bottom, so I was taking on far too much water. Were my vessel not buoyant, I would have sunk.
As I bobbed up and down, the water rushing into my tube, I realized the predicament I had found myself in was a gift, a mini- wake-up call from the Universe, to bring my attention to a personal matter I had refused to see clearly.
At the time, I was involved in a relationship that was fulfilling in many ways; yet, somewhere within I knew it was not what I really wanted. It had ceased to serve my greater good, and it was time to move on. Still, in that moment, my first reaction was denial. “No, this can’t possibly be what I’m supposed to be learning here.” I dismissed it entirely, flouting the clear cosmic message being offered.
My ego was screaming, “How could the Universe possibly know what is best for me!?” Had I been honest with myself, I couldn’t deny the signs had been there for quite some time. I just hadn’t wanted to read the writing on the wall.
When we are stuck, whether it is in a relationship that no longer serves us, a job that is unfulfilling, an addiction that is sucking our soul, or some other limiting pattern of thought or behavior, we have ceased to be in the “flow of the Universe.” Like a leaf spinning incessantly in an eddy, hung up behind a rock, we feel incapable of dislodging ourselves, in order to move back into the current.
This “current” of which I speak is the present, the now, the experience of living. We become entrenched, debilitated by fear, or mired in the stories we have fabricated about ourselves, the way it is, or the way it has always been. We feel unable to move into the present, powerless to embrace fully what is waiting for us in the river of life, even though we know instinctively it is far better than where we presently find ourselves.
Often, we remain in a place long after it is useful to us, because we can’t see any other option, or the alternative will force us to alter our current ways of thinking and being. The thought of change can be rather unnerving.
When our belief structures are what have supported us for so long, we might see the change as a threat to our very survival; we struggle and resist the forward momentum, and eventually become paralyzed. As Ralph Blum says in The Book Of Runes, “Self-change is never coerced, - we are always free to resist… Still, he encourages us to “remain mindful that the new life is always greater than the old.”
Though we may wish for change, we often feel powerless to alter our circumstance. It seems as though “the world” is against us, our spouse is unreasonable, our boss is disrespectful, our resources are dwindling, and there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. We are stuck, and it…well…it’s very unpleasant.
Though we may be trapped, eventually we become aware that the river has continued to progress along without us. Everyone else seems to have moved ahead, traveling on down stream. This realization can further cement us, as we get fixed in a mode of anger or self-pity, which only perpetuates our experience.
So here, again, we are faced with a choice. Do we remain in our present circumstances, clinging to the status quo, bemoaning our retched state, or do we pick ourselves up and move, braving the unknown? Appalachian Gap or Lincoln? Do we stick to the path that is familiar, or take the risk, like the Tarot’s Fool, and step off the cliff, letting go of the known and moving into the unknown.
The chick must step out of the nest in order to fly. We can take the leap of our own volition, but often we need a little push. Sometimes it takes a gust of wind, or an unforeseen force that catches us by surprise and propels us into the void.
Recall now an experience when you were in the proverbial “zone”, when you were flying. Remember a time when everything seemed to flow perfectly, when you were in harmony with the forces of the Universe. In these exquisite moments, life is vital and vibrant. We feel inspired and ecstatic.
The word inspire, from the Latin inspirare, translates as both breath and spirit. It means, literally, to be filled with the breath of Spirit, and the word ecstatic, derived from the Latin ex-stasis, means to move out of stasis or to stand outside oneself.
These are truly transcendent moments, when we find ourselves lifted out of our ordinary circumstances to a level of awareness that places us in the current. This is what the teachings of Abraham-Hicks refer to as “The Vortex,” where everything is happening in Divine Right Order.
When we are stuck, however, we feel out of sync with existence, like we are trying to paddle up stream. We may even discover the same pattern is manifesting in multiple areas of our lives at the same time. Our job is unfulfilling, our relationship has ceased to grow, we can’t shed those last ten pounds, our bathroom sink is clogged, and the CD player in our car is jammed. The sense of stagnation can permeate our whole experience, and the feeling can be quite uncomfortable.
Liberating ourselves from this place can create great upheaval in our lives. It may mean emotionally disentangling, and physically removing ourselves from a toxic relationship, a destructive habit, or a dysfunctional situation, but more often than not, it means simply expanding our consciousness, altering our perception, taking responsibility for our own reality.
What we are called upon to do is rewrite our story, but first we must acknowledge that we are the authors of our own lives. We must recognize that we hold the pen, and we can reshape the tale we are telling to reflect how we truly want our lives to be, rather than how we are experiencing them, presently, or how, in our estimation, they have always been.
Meanwhile, back at Mad River, a shout roused me from my reverie. I glanced over my shoulder, to notice the rest of my crew had already floated several hundred yards down stream. If I was ever going to get out of the clutches of the whirlpool, I was going to have to take action. I started pushing against the rocks with my hands, no luck. I rolled to my stomach and kicked off with my feet to no avail. This stressing and striving was getting me nowhere.
No help in sight, I saw no other alternative. I was going to have to take the plunge. I rolled into the icy water, planted my feet firmly on the pebbly bottom, and forcibly pulled my raft back into the rushing river, and in due time I was reunited with my party back in the flow of the experience.
So how do we do this in our own lives? How do we extract ourselves from deep-seated ways of thinking and being, when we may have no clue what to do? We simply begin. We may start small, but we begin, nonetheless.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the first thing we must do is to be still. But you say, I’m stuck, how much more still can I possibly be? Yet, when we are stuck we can behave similarly to a caged animal. We pace incessantly in our restlessness, or hurl ourselves against that which binds us. We may, like an animal caught in a trap, gnaw at ourselves, trying to break free, only to do even greater harm.
It might seem that bold immediate action is the only way out. Yet, it is important to take the time to feel our emotions fully, the pain, anger, and frustration. It is essential that we sit with them long enough to move deeper, beneath the surface, to the root of that which we struggle against. When we sit long enough, we discover, inevitably, that what we thought we were fighting is merely a mirror of ourselves.
If we can be with the discomfort, we soon discover what has gotten under our skin is the recognition that we have outgrown our current circumstances and our Higher Self is calling to us to move out of this stasis into a new, more beneficial, way of being. The negative emotions we are feeling are signals that we are out of alignment with our true nature, and reinforcing that which we don’t want.
At these times we need to shift our point of focus from being stuck toward where we ultimately want to be. Most often we need to make this transition incrementally. If the leap from where we are to where we desire to be is too great, we must build bridges to span the divide.
We begin by changing our thoughts. We move from negative ones that keep us focused on our present state of dissatisfaction to increasingly more pleasant ones. As we begin to shift what the Abraham-Hicks teachings call our “Point of Focus” to the positive aspects of our situation, or to what it is we really desire, we begin to raise our level of vibration, and in keeping with the Law of Attraction, we always draw to us those things of equal vibration.
Our feelings, what these teachings call the “Internal Guidance System,” are the indicators of our current point of attraction. When we are feeling good about something, we are aligned with what we want, and attracting more of the same, but when we are feeling bad (and most likely talking about it…)we are still attracting, but, it in this case, exactly what we do not want.
A very effective tool for making the transition from negative thoughts to positive, or from feeling bad to feeling good is to cultivate what some call an “attitude of gratitude.” We can begin this process by working with a gratitude journal or a “Book of Positive Aspects,” in which we write the positive elements regarding all of the things in our lives we wish to change, and, accordingly for which we need to cultivate improved feelings.
You might think, “There is nothing positive, what so ever, about my current situation.” Take a moment and think again. If we can approach our experience from a place of gratitude for that which is positive, we soon begin to change our perception. We discover that our circumstance is an exact reflection of our dominant thoughts about it. And we have the power to change the situation, simply by changing our habitual thoughts about it.
Next we state our intentions. We need to express specifically what it is we desire: a more satisfying job, a more fulfilling relationship, a healthier lifestyle, whatever it is, we must be clear about what we want, in tune with our intention. When we are aligned with our intent, it becomes our point of attraction and we draw to us things, people, experiences that resonate at the same frequency. Like attracts like.
The next and most difficult thing we must do is to release our attachment to having it now. For this inevitably sends us back into focusing on our lack, of not having what we want. If we can remain centered in the present, knowing that the intended change is in process, our thoughts will remain positive and we will manifest the desired outcome that much sooner.
Finally, we must accept what is given us. Be careful what you wish for, as you may just get it, is not just a trite saying, it is Universal Law. Our thoughts have power, and are the seeds of all creation. Fortunately, we can always change our minds, and adjust our desires accordingly, as we evolve. Therefore, we must operate consciously, from a place of greater awareness, from a plane of higher vibration, in order to create the lives we truly want to be living.
Should we find ourselves stuck, or at a place where our desires have shifted, and we feel compelled to move, we need only remember that we are sole authors of our experience. We can be, as Gandhi says, “the change we wish to see in the world,” simply by turning to a bright, clean, new page and rewriting the story of our lives.
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.