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  • Resilient Practice

How to Become Unstuck - Creating Flow

“Don’t go with the flow. Be the flow!”

– Elif Shafak

Last week we wrote about fostering Self-awareness and the affecting the removal of those things which block our progress. We focussed on the common human tendency to sabotage this progress so as to remain safe but stuck – even though we would consciously wish to move forwards.

This week we would like to explore the pace at which we move forward.

During therapy, one of the most common frustrations that we hear from our patients is that whist they can see some progress, they are not moving as fast as they would like. ‘Why can I not move all my obstacles at once?’ ‘Why, when I can see what I need to do, can I not do it all now?’

In our book ‘How to Rise’ we published a ‘Flow Meditation.’ This was inspired by the Shamanic principle of ‘hollowing out.’ The idea that, for us to become effective at holding space for others to facilitate healing, we must have sought to remove as many of our own obstacles as possible. When we aim to be a conduit for others, what we pass on should be uncontaminated by our own ‘stuff.’

To this end, therapists are wise if they ‘do the work’ on themselves before first beginning to practise and that that work becomes a continuous part of their own journey throughout life. There will always be ‘stuff’ to shift and work to do – and so it is anyway for all of us.

The idea of ‘hollowing out’ is usually accompanied by a visualisation of becoming like a hollow bone or piece of bamboo. We visualise that if we lie down in the river, water and matter may flow through us and on towards its destination without anything becoming stuck. When we respond to a trigger, for example, become upset or offended about something, it is as if a piece of flotsam travelling down the river has become lodged within us. We know that this has happened if we find ourselves engaging in a fear pattern Fear Patterns (

Imagine that when we have become triggered by something, a piece of matter in the flow of our river becomes lodged somewhere within that hollow bone. We respond to triggers because of fear – of losing something - such as friendship, reputation, physical possessions or status. This triggers a fear pattern which then applies the brakes – a stick in the dam. If not cleared out, eventually, something else will come along and become lodged next to it, and then something else and so on until we have built a dam of sticks and matter which serves to completely stop us in our tracks.

This is where we crave for the water to flow again.

On doing the work we can begin to see how we have created the blockage. It is then that we can become frustrated that no matter how compliant and willing we are to undertake the challenges, we cannot remove the whole dam at once.

Why can we not shift the whole dam?

This is a great question that we are often asked when we make this analogy. We are wise here if we remember why we built the dam in the first place.

We built it to stay safe.

A dam builds up when we respond in an unconscious fearful way to situations and circumstances within our lives. When change is afoot. The psyche will always perceive change as a threat even when it is positive because it is the unknown. We are hardwired to maintain the status quo because familiar territory is guaranteed safety and so our unconscious thoughts, feelings and behaviour will support staying put. The unknown will always be interpreted by the psyche as perilous.

It is only when we become conscious of what is going on for us that we can affect change.

When we begin to undergo transformation and healing, we set our intention to shift the dam. However, as we described in last week’s article, the suggestion of removing blocks actually activates the very system that put the blocks there in the first place – because it is scary!

Try this:

Try speaking the following meditation slowly and calmly into your phone and then listening back at a time when you are relaxed and ready to make changes.

When you are feeling stuck and overwhelmed and you know what you should be doing to help yourself but feel unable press pause.

As usual step into the shoes of your Observer Self. This is the part of you that can describe what you think and how you feel but is not doing the thinking or feeling. Remember that you are not your thoughts or your emotions. You are the one who is experiencing them.

Take your awareness to your breathing

Allow your breath to slow and deepen

Relax your shoulders and your jaw

Now allow the outbreath to become just a little longer than the inbreath

And as you sigh out, let go of anything that has been draining or irritating you

Visualise yourself as a piece of hollow bamboo in the river with all the flow of life passing through you

Arriving and then leaving

Now Visualise your ‘stuckness’ and overwhelm as a dam

Blocking and obstructing the flow within you

Get a sense where in your body this expresses itself

How does it feel?

What does the dam look like?

What is it comprised of?

No message that you receive here in this exercise is irrelevant

Know that the blockage here has been built with the best intentions

To keep you safe at a time when you felt vulnerable

Thank your Self for the process

But you are stronger now

You are ready to begin

In a very slow and measured way

With the permission of all of the parts of you that helped to build your dam

You set the intention to create some flow

Look for the stick in the dam that seems most accessible

One that is sticking out and wobbling in the river

One who’s removal will not upset the whole structure too much

And begin working at in gently with exquisite care


Take your time

Until it is free

Let it float away down the river back to source


Now look at your dam

Notice how subtly different it looks

With the liberation of just that one small stick

Everything else has shifted

Ever so slightly

Almost imperceptibly

There is a little more room between all of the other sticks

And there is movement

A tiny trickle of water here and there

A gentle pulsation

Space to breathe

And a sense of hope and lightness

And it is enough to begin with

Now slowly and gently bring yourself back to full awareness

With gratitude

For the courage and willingness

To begin

You can listen to this meditation as many times as you like and keep removing sticks over again.

Doing it regularly will enable you to set the intention to keep working on removing blocks without incurring fear.

You may be surprised at the changes that take place within your life as a result.

For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your human experience see our book:

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