I've found myself feeling a bit stuck recently - lacking in ideas and inspiration, thoughts not flowing as freely as they might at other times. Chatting to friends, it seems I'm not the only one. This lockdown has lingered for a long time, motivation is running low and there's a collective sense of groundhog day.
So, how do we find a bit more flow when we're feeling in a stuck place? Are there activities we can do, or mindsets we can adopt, that can to open us up to a new perspective, some fresh ideas and creativity?
Connect with the body
When we are feeling stuck, it usually means we have the same thoughts looping round in our heads. We are especially prone to this in lockdown when we are spending more time indoors. Yoga helps us to reconnect with the physical sense of our bodies which in turn quietens down our busy minds. The more we can keep our awareness in our bodies as we move, the more we create space in our minds.
Moving in any way is great for finding flow. Whether it's walking, running or cycling, physical movement helps to ground us in our bodies and free up our thinking minds. As our bodies move, our minds tend to follow. If we're outdoors, the change of scenery opens us up to a bigger perspective. Life is in flux, nature reminds us that change is a constant and we have new sounds, sights and smells to stimulate new thoughts.
Inspiration from water
Being close to water is a great way to stimulate flow. When I was younger and lived in London, I used to love walking along the Thames if I was feeling mentally stuck; by the time I got to the end of my walk I'd usually have some new insight. Walking around lakes, along rivers or by the sea reminds us of our own fluidity. After all, our bodies are 60 per cent water.
Taking inspiration from the water element when we practice yoga can help to stimulate flow. I love bringing fluid, circular movements into my practice when I'm feeling a bit stuck and allowing myself to move in an instinctive, unplanned way. In yoga, the water element is linked to the the hips and pelvis; poses and flows that tap into this area can help to stir up our creative energies and awaken new ideas.
Sometimes our physical environments can keep us feeling stuck. I regularly put things down in my home that need mending and find they are still there weeks later. Even if I don't realise, these things are like little roadblocks and contribute to a sense of me feeling stuck.
I once heard Oprah Winfrey talking about how she does a 'power hour'. The idea is, once a week you dedicate an hour to going around your home and fixing all the little things that need mending. I might not get round to it as much as once a week but when I do it I always feel better. It's a bit like lots of stones building up in a stream and disrupting the flow; once the stones are removed, the stream can flow more freely again.
Breath is flow
When it feels like nothing's moving, watching the breath is a great practice. It's a reminder that however stuck we feel the breath is always flowing in and out of the body. When we focus on our breath, thoughts will arise but instead of engaging with them, we can keep coming back to the breath. When we don't give thoughts attention, they are free to float on by. By the end of a meditation we might find we have a fresh perspective on something we've been stuck with.
A quick way to find flow is to put on a piece of music and dance. Music is a powerful way to connect with emotions and can shift us from our head to our heart in an instant. I sometimes find myself crying when I do this and releasing an emotion I've been gripping onto. I find that the more I let go of how I look when I'm dancing and allow my body to move however it wants to, the more I can connect with the deeper part of me.
Go with your flow
Sometimes when I'm stuck it's because I'm trying my hardest to be productive and yet I'm exhausted. I'm pushing and pushing to get things done and the process is painstaking and fruitless. Instead of ploughing on, if I take a rest and a do a guided relaxation such as Yoga Nidra, I usually come back feeling much better. Then I'm able to do the things I need to do or sometimes just realise they are not that important and let go of them until another day.
A really important part of finding our flow is respecting the way we are feeling on any given day. Some days we are equipped to be more active and some days we need to be quieter. The things that might feel hard to do on one day might be easy on another and sometimes finding a task or activity that's suited to our mood (or just resting) makes a really big difference. There are also days when we just need to accept that we feel stuck and that is part of being human. Allowing ourselves to feel that way and remembering that 'this too shall pass' can be helpful.
As a final thought, being in the company of other people helps us to find our flow. Conversations spark ideas and point us in new directions; being amongst a group reminds us we are part of something much bigger. Until we can come together again in a collective way, we will benefit from connecting with others in any ways we can.
What helps you to find your flow? Why not write down some ideas of your own and try them out now or the next time you feel stuck.