Have you ever been stuck in a rut? I mean, REALLY stuck in a rut? Locked into a particular way of doing things, or eating things, or having thoughts that are of absolutely NO benefit at all to you? But, because that is what you have always done, it just keeps on happening. In the Tradition of Yoga, these grooves are called Samsaras.
All of us have been there at one time of another. Stalled. So, what to do? What to do?
There is a classic Buddhist tale about a starving dog that – while out wandering about one day – comes upon a bleached out, dried out, gnarly old bone.....he is thrilled! Begins to gnaw on the bone, and to gnaw and to gnaw...until it finally dawns on him that he is getting nothing at all from all this effort. He throws the bone away in disdain....thoroughly disgusted with himself for having chomped away on this bone for so long...and all for nothing.
How often we do the same thing! Many emotions are tied up in this situation....but three of them stand out.
1. Awareness that the practice, food, thoughts are futile and of little or no benefit at all
2. Disgust and disdain for the self in having gone on for so long – using up precious energy
3. A sense of urgency to find some other way of doing, eating, thinking, of being.
I know of no single English word that clearly sums up this cluster of emotion, yet Buddhism wonderfully comes up with the term ‘Samvega’ - which most adequately describes the triad of feelings.
So, how to get out of your rut? Here’s how – the yogic way. We are going to borrow from Patanjali’s 8-Limbed Path:
1. First and foremost, be easy on yourself. No beating yourself up. (Ahimsa – non violence)
2. Identify the problem. You have to know what the rut is to begin to fix it. Write it down. See it in writing. Be clear. (Swadhyaya...knowing yourself)
3. Be truthful with yourself (Satya - tell no lies)
4. Commit to change. (Tapas – this is the hard part!)
5. Open to the little miracles which are always happening in life – a precious child, a brilliantly blooming flower, a fabulous sunset. Be present in the moment.
6. Understand that you are not alone. You are an integral part of the Universe. Ask for the help that you need and surrender to that Greater Power.