I think most can recognize those periods in life where everything seems static. The stagnation I’m referring to is not only restricted to one or a few areas of life, but overall. I’m talking, null developments or forward movements in any regard. Even attempts to get the ball rolling during this phase might backfire or be met with slammed doors. Initially, this can bring a sense of relief or be a form of permission to let go and relax. After a while the feeling of boredom, frustration or general dissatisfaction comes creeping in. In turn fear and desperation can take over suggesting life will never start rolling. A natural interpretation of this state might be that the individual is stuck.
However, I’d describe these phases as a neutral zero point. The zero point can be perceived as stuckness, but just as equally it can be experienced and utilized as stillness. Stuckness and stillness are simply different sides of the same coin, with opposite polarities. Depending on what interpretation one makes when life isn’t flowing in any direction, determines the outcome. I’m certain a majority of people find the zero point as an uncomfortable and unbearing stuckness. However, I’d like to flip the coin and focus on what has potential to flourish when the tossed chip lands on stillness. The stillness is an invitation to take steps closer to an uncluttered version of life. The question is, when life is in stillness mode will you accept?
The reason many unknowingly decline the invitation is because the interpretation of being “stuck” causes a freak out. The distress that may arise is because of three main reasons:
– The ego or mental self despises staying put. It always desires and depends on “getting over there” where everything will be better and greater, it’s the everlasting carrot chase. The best possible life is rarely ever in the present (according to the mind), that’s how the ego/self is designed. The mind not perceiving progress is its worst type of nightmare. The mind will rebel causing all sorts of mental and emotional havoc to push the individual to act or move.
– When there is nothing new to latch on to, the ego or sense of self begins to starve. This means a decrease in the sense of identity. The ego’s survival depends on having defined labels, roles and being in relation to others. Yet it easily gets accustomed to its titles and accomplishments and needs more to claim. The identity and even value can begin to fade if the life narrative “stops”. Perceived stuckness can in some cases go as far as triggering a personal crisis due to the identity coming crashing down (“I don’t know who I am anymore”).
– When nothing is incoming or moving in life it will mean a drastic reduction in the amount of distractions occupying the mind. When the amount of distractions lessen, the mental sphere can unleash distress or boredom because it wants to stay busy and not face being still nor silence.
Paradoxically, these three points causing suffering are the exact ones able to unlock life changing insights and revelations. The lack of motion, identification and distractions settles mental activity, the ego and its defenses. What does this mean? It opens the door to being here and now on a frequent basis without the mind working over time. Stillness provides the option to sink into what is deeper and experiencing the present with clarity. Before you know it, the realization will hit that stillness is not actually motionless but a free flowing state. I should give a tiny warning though, free flowing can also be perceived as a free fall setting off survival instincts (mentally, rarely physically). So make sure to intuitively follow your path.
When life is still, the mind lowers its guard so the veil of life begins to drop (if we choose). Our awareness can then be directed towards that which is always in the background, yet not perceived by the senses. When the mind is not blurring or hiding the obvious and we drop into stillness, there is effortless access to our timeless, conditionless, formless and unified nature. I can’t go into more details since it’s a state which can’t be described with words, only known by first hand experience.
If you are in a stage of life where you seem caught in stuckness, I’d suggest you first notice and only observe how the mind acts up and all the stories it tells. Don’t stress and take action. It’s natural to feel pressed to act at first when everything seems stale. Just stick it out if you can and your circumstances allow you to. The mind, its worst case scenarios and all the feelings that go along with it, will eventually quiet down. That’s the perfect time to turn the coin and accept the golden invitation of stillness to merge with the unknowable.