I feel stuck. Things feel slow, unmoving and stale. I want change but it seems that the change I want is just out of my reach. There is a sense of others finding this change or even acquiring the exact thing I want but I can’t seem to make it happen.
I have heard many clients express these statements and of course, I have also said them myself. It can cause us anxiety and sometimes depression, to feel stuck, unable to move forward. Often, we are waiting for the right answer or to know a specific path before we make a move. However, it may not be so easy to figure this out or to feel certain about which way to go.
I just realized that one of the symbols that I have been attracted to for a long time is of stones, stacked one on top of the other, gradually getting smaller as you near the top. I even have an image of them on my business cards. It is funny how we are attracted to certain things and realize that there is a much deeper significance behind the attraction. In the Zen Buddhism tradition, these stacked stones are called cairns. One definition reads,
Cairns symbolize direction, safety and home for travelers moving along life’s path.
There is even a zen proverb that reads,
Move and the way will open.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, one of the things I remind my clients, time and again is when we feel stuck, we should just make some kind of movement, no matter how small. This will often lead to another small movement and then another. So we will often go from feeling stuck to feeling as though we are moving forward. Even if this path isn’t the exact one we want, it will likely help us to find it, just through these small movements.
So when we feel stuck, the task is to think of one way, even if it seems insignificant, to make movement. This movement may even seem unrelated to the bigger change that we desire in our lives. Moving in some way, any way, will likely lead us to the right path. We can even keep images or an actual cairn, somewhere where we can see it as a reminder to keep moving. What small move can you make today?
Dr. Christina Barber-Addis is the founder of New Awakenings Therapy and is a mindfulness-based, licensed psychologist in private practice in Woodland Hills, California. She specializes in treating adults with anxiety by incorporating mindfulness meditation into her therapy practice.