Been stuck recently? Seems to be going around. It’s not necessarily bad as long as it doesn’t become a way of life, though it usually does last longer than we feel comfortable with. But it has its place. Take breathing as an example. There is that place in your breathing, where you have taken in a full breath, but not yet started to release the air. Do you know that place? And it feels like nothing is happening, but there is something happening—a change in activity is coming (from in-breathing to out-breathing). And while the natural world around us these days is bursting into new activity, the human process for change seems to lag behind this time of year. Why? Well, when the winter comes and brings cold temperatures and long nights, we all naturally breathe in. It feels really good to breathe in at that time. Fall, the winter holidays, and the changing of the year bring an inwardness that feels really good. It's nice to be cozy inside, light candles in the darkness, and devote time to our family life, our community life, and our inner life. It is in fact true that the deepest winter nights are a potent time to come into a purer relationship to our inner intentions and our spirituality. We can connect better to our higher self and find inspiration for the coming year during that time. Some glimmer of that comes out (as the flame of new year's resolutions that may to often soon sputter), but on a deeper level we do place the seeds of future activity–changing something, taking on a new activity, working to manifest our best selves. But then those seeds stay hidden for an extended time. If thinking alone made change a reality, then we would see dramatic changes bursting forth in January and February! But we usually don't. In fact, sometimes those months can feel the most stuck part of the year, and that stuck feeling can drag on into April and even May. Real change takes a longer path, as the intentions we plant in deep winter (especially at the end of December and early January) do not usually show their real fruits until the following fall (late September through October). It's an archetypal path of change, but one which is not cognitively guided. It involves more than just our thought.
It's a little bit like doing a relaxation exercise. Just saying “I need to relax” doesn't usually do it. We need tools. There are many successful practices for systematically going through the different parts of your body and noticing whether your jaw is tight, your toes curled, your breathing shallow. In this process you recognize something as being imbalanced and it give it extra attention, and when it gets extra attention that can (paradoxically) help it be let go. Moving, tightening, and stretching your limbs, lips, neck does this, as at first accentuating tension helps you then release tension. Or, if we use more of a mental task, making a list of all the things you need to do (which could be overwhelming), can help you let go of them, and stop worrying about them all the time. You need to breathe a little more in, in order to breathe out. Usually the reason we are tense, or stuck, is that we continue to carry something that doesn't need to be carried any more, but of which we are no longer fully conscious. We get used to lugging them around, and don't even realize that we are carrying around “extra rocks” in our backpack. Then we have little moments when we look in our backpack and say, “look what I have been carrying around all this time!” Unexpected outer events and illnesses often wake us up in this way.
Knowing that we need to change is a vital step, but often that step of recognition is not enough. Bringing attention to something doesn't necessarily make it better unless it helps us also find the out-breath. If we don’t, then making a to-do list will just make us obsess even more about all of the things ahead of us. We need to find the counter gesture. And this is a place where homeopathic medicines can be very helpful, because by giving a substance that in a large dose makes symptoms worse (many traditional homeopathic remedies are poisonous), we can (if the substance is given in a very, very small, diluted form) stimulate the body to meet what is out of balance (through helping our body to see the imbalance) and then allow us to move the other way. They help our body to breathe in more so, that we can breathe out of an illness. For this reason, many anthroposophic remedies are given in potentized (diluted) forms in order to try to bring this kind of movement. These “movements” are an important part of treating the whole person.
Describing this process will certainly take more than three paragraphs. So stay tuned for Part 2 (June), Part 3 (July) and Part 4 (August) to see how we can “get unstuck” in acute illnesses and inflammations, in psychiatric illnesses, and in adult biographical rhythms.