You don’t need to feel stuck, and you don’t need to be unsure of what the next step is. The clarity and insight you need to align with your core desires and intentions is available to you in this moment.
If at any point you lack clarity around what your next steps are, this is a result of lacking faith or the confidence in yourself that you already have the answers you seek within. Some people get caught into thinking that it’s the other way around; that they’re not confident because they lack clarity. Well in this post, I seek to help show you how by seeing through the fear and limiting perspectives that hold you back, you may immediately access insight around what your next steps are.
If you rather watch than read:
Become The Observer
The first step is to quiet down all the internal noise that manifests as fear and doubt. This will be done though a form of meditation, which I will be walking you through.
Before you go into this meditation, you must understand that you have two perspectives inherent within you, which we will refer to as the experiencer, and the observer.
Most people spend their life seeing through the perspective of the experiencer. Through this perspective, you are immersed into and identified with the thoughts and emotions you have. When you are identified with your thoughts/emotions, you are believing that they are aspects of who you are in that moment (this is even apparent in our speech when we say things like, “I am mad/sad/(insert any emotion)”, which can be both limiting as well as cause us to suffer. In this place, it is difficult to be objective towards understanding your experience, because your thoughts and emotions will distort your observation. Through the perspective of the experiencer, thoughts/emotions of fear, doubt, and insecurity, obstruct your ability to identify the next best step for you.
By moving into the observer perspective, or what Eckhart Tolle refers to in his famous book, The Power of Now, as “becoming The Watcher”, you retreat into what you can think of as a third-person view of your life. This is associated with a process called detachment or disidentification. When you undergo detachment, you are able begin to objectively observe your experience including your thoughts and emotions – this allows you to transcend self-imposed limitations, and access powerful insight.
The Method: A Form of Meditation
In meditation, you bring your state of consciousness to that of The Watcher – this comes with great amounts of benefit (which is why meditation can be such a powerful and transformative tool). But for now, let’s focus in on how to use this strategy to access insight that will help you out of feeling stuck.
Here is the method:
1) Focus on your breath
First, find a comfortable place to sit for the meditation. When you do, close your eyes and bring your attention towards the sensation of breathing. The breath acts as an anchor that you can use to gain control of your attention.
2) Expand your awareness by becoming attentive to your thoughts
After a few moments of focusing on the breath, you want to bring your attention to the thoughts arising in your mind. Try to avoid exercising effort towards thinking about your thoughts, rather, just observe what comes up naturally.
Know that it may be difficult for you to maintain focus here, especially if you don’t have much or any experience with meditation. Usually what happens when we think thoughts, is that our thought will lead into to having another one, and then another, and another, and so forth. We often get “taken” along by these thoughts exercising little to no conscious control over them. It’s especially clear that we aren’t conscious of or in control of our thoughts when the thoughts we have do not serve us, or distract us from fully enjoying the present moment.
Next, as you observe each thought, you are to (verbally or silently) label it with a word or phrase that describes it. For example, if you think, “I wonder if this is going to help”, you may say, “questioning thought”. Or if you think, “my back is hurting”, you might label that, “thought about discomfort”. Do this for about 2-4 minutes and then proceed.
3) Bring your awareness to your emotions
I want you to bring your attention towards how you are feeling; to your emotions. Just like you did with your thoughts, label the emotions you are feeling. Do this for about 2-4 minutes as well.
This practice of labeling your thoughts and emotions heightens your awareness of what it is you are thinking and feeling. This leads into being able to detach from your thoughts/emotions. Try to become aware of your thoughts/emotions as part of your experience without identifying with them as aspects of who you really are. By doing so, you will rise above that which is keeping you feeling confused, scared, and unsure of what your next steps are. All of this opens way for allowing insight to flow into you.
Note that I recommend that with your meditation, that you work towards being able to observe your experience without attaching labels to things, because labeling in itself involves mental activity which you ideally want to reduce over time. As you become more experienced, you will find that you’ll naturally become better able at objectively observing your thoughts, without having to label them. But if you still find this challenging, labeling your thoughts/emotions can keep you engaged, making it easier to stay aware of your intentions.
4) Invite in insight
Once you feel like you have sufficiently detached/disidentified from your thoughts/emotions (it’s normal to bounce back and forth a bit), invite into yourself the faith that you KNOW what the best step is for you. You need to know that you already have the answer. What feels most right? What course of action would you be happiest taking in this moment? Don’t let concerns around consequences hold you back, because if you act in line with what feels most right at any given point of time, you will be fulfilled with the decisions you make
5) Ask yourself the question..
A trick that you can throw in here if you are still having trouble is to imagine that one of your closest friends was in the situation you’re in, and then ask yourself, “what advice would I give them?”
At this point, it’s likely that all kinds of wisdom pops into your head. The reason this happens is because it’s a whole lot easier for us to give advice to someone else, than apply it ourselves, because again, fear gets in the way.
6) Embrace fear and act
If a piece of advice is what you’d tell someone you cared about if they were in your shoes, then it is also the insight that you need to take your next steps. You should also understand that it’s normal for there to be some fear when we embark on worthy ventures. Embrace that this is part of the process (and is indicative that you are doing something worth doing), and move forward with your new found insight despite it.
The more you practice observing from the perspective of The Watcher, the clearer your mind and your next steps will be.
Just remember, the answers we seek are there waiting for us, we just have to be brave enough to act on what we already know.