Here are some thoughts on being stuck in ruts, and some ideas for getting out of them.
It’s easy to get stuck in ruts. They can creep up slowly like frowns and bad tempers, unnoticed until they feel like part of us (they aren’t!)
When the rut is deep as a ditch and our mind set has narrowed…
Maybe we’ll resign to it because it’s been suggested that, “we’ve made our bed and now we must lie in it.”
Maybe we’ll grow to like it because it feels safe and familiar.Or maybe we don’t know we’re in it because we can’t see beyond it.
Our brains have cognitive bias, say the scientists.
Good for survival, but it makes us prone to prejudices. We look for evidence (I told you so!) to support and validate our beliefs.
If we like being told we’re correct (who doesn’t?) we’ll tend to read, watch and listen to what tells us we’re right. It reinforces our conviction.
We might even prefer to be right than to be kind.
Lack of awareness certainly makes for a view which is limited and narrow. And this is reflected in all aspects of us: in what we think, feel and eat, in how we breathe and move, and in what we then say and do.
I like practical tasks like digging. I used to love running until neck and knee problems put paid to that…
So dodgy knees took me off to my first yoga class (age at least 31) and I’ve never looked back.
Oooh… it was so nice to be moving like that again, with such variety. Again! (yes, again!) It was both new and familiar, like some distant childhood experience freshly restored.
I think children do stuff (call it yoga if you like) to help themselves, but the travails of life tend to come to the fore, and it becomes obscured.
Without awareness in ageing, we can easily become set in our ways.
I was really quite shocked as a yoga-class newbie to find how limited my body had become.
Yet I was hooked… I got a mat and started home practice.
Years have passed, but I’m still as keen (even more so!) I’ve stuck with yoga because the methods work, plain and simple.
Yoga refreshes me. It reassures me that whatever’s happening I always have options, and this stops me being defensive or feeling backed into a corner.
I went to yoga to soothe my knees, but I gained a way of life.
I feel spacious and stronger both physically and mentally – more likely to flex in the wind than to snap under strain.
What I did on the yoga mat started to percolate into my everyday life – as if being on the mat was practice for being off it.
I was literally discovering how to exercise compassion.
It affected my whole function.
Fears, especially about the future, can easily creep up on us. We humans have developed the capacity for self-awareness. It’s a price we pay for being the planet’s most dominant (destructive too) and bossiest occupant.
We’re mortal and we know it, and this is a common cause of trouble within and between us.
We’re emotional creatures (not knocking it!) living in a messy world where change is constant.
Uncertainty can riddle us with behavioural biases which we build into walls, because it seems rational at the time (they’ve all got it in for me!)
Blinkered vision and fortress mentality mean loss of equilibrium: a mind-set gone belly-up.
Yoga helps remove skewed views and misapprehensions. It’s like physical and mental decompression for times of pressure.
When we’re skewed, all the wonderful stuff we can do on automatic – helpful habits, happy routines, positive coping strategies – can vanish, or worse, morph into hindrances.
Sometimes life just feels too complicated.
Carefreeness has melted away and we just feel like scarpering!
I’ve heard people call our present digital age a post-truth era, because we’re awash with fake news and misinformation.
Our computerised lives are increasingly ruled by algorithms. And if we’re not discerning this can compromise our freedom.
And where we do feel we have choice, decisions can be difficult, as it’s so hard to tell fact from fiction, and truth from lies.
Joy and I see more and more people coming to yoga classes because they’re frazzled.
It’s no surprise that people are distracted, lose keys, lose tempers, get defensive, behave badly, get stuck in ruts, put themselves under pressure… or blame others for their troubles when the fault lies with them.
Don’t forget that yoga (and any tradition concerned with restoring harmony in our wonderful but troubled world) comes from the experiences of people seeking a bit of peace for themselves, often under hardship and in violent times.
History has a habit of repeating itself.
Many do seek peace but find it hard to live in peace.
Harmony can only endure between us when we have some measure of peace within us.
And yoga is a helpful means to restore this.
Isn’t it brilliant to find a means to help us feel spacious? To find breathing space, with more room for thinking and moving? To realise that we’re more likely to explode with laughter than with rage?
Yoga methods shed light on our options so we can then make better choices.
Open-mindedness helps us see more clearly, further, and from different viewpoints. We can then imagine how it feels to walk in someone else’s shoes.
It takes all kinds to make our wonderfully rich and diverse world.
In nature, monoculture struggles where diversity thrives. (We are nature!)
Variety is most definitely a spice of life.
Try these simple and light-hearted ways to help you counter ruttishness:
- Drink from a different mug
- Go barefoot when possible
- Listen to a different radio channel
- Wear more of your clothes
- Use the other hand when cleaning your teeth
- Eat different foods
- Use the other ear when on the phone
- Change a routine
- Use a different locker (if applicable)
- Break a bad habit – or just notice that you do it
- Sit in a different chair, or on the floor
- Smile at people more
- Take more interest in people’s lives
- Stand on one leg now and again
- Practice yoga… and next time you’re in your yoga class, try placing your mat somewhere different!