A month ago, I was having that dream from high school where I show up for tests unprepared, but this time it was for my Kundalini yoga teaching exam.
My training manual was 332 pages, and not the picture-heavy or paperback-sized pages. These pages were full of language and techniques that were sometimes difficult to grasp throughout my eight-month long training. And the 12-page study guide for the final exam called for memorization of list upon list of Gurmukhi (an ancient Indian language) and English terms, techniques, and meanings. I was working full time, and studying day and night.
Thankfully, my studies paid off when I aced the exam in just two of the four allotted hours. After that, my life finally returned to normal, or at least some new version of it. With free time, social weekends, and stress-free dreams, I was grateful to step back into life’s comforting balance for a while.
But inevitably, as the weeks passed and my workday and weekend time became more abundant, my motivation began to dissipate. My time was plentiful and free, but my moods shifted, my snacking increased, and my happiness decreased. I was stuck—plateaued.
After reaching the destination I’d worked so hard to achieve, I was on a hill peering out, paralyzed by underutilization and indecision.
My energy began to plummet. I had ideas of where I wanted to go with the online yoga resource I was building, but I was also exhausted from the eight months of continued action required to build something meaningful and valuable. My faith was in question. Was I good enough? Were these dreams even possible? Did I have what it took?
Complacency set in, I considered giving up, and I questioned the value in changing careers. I wondered if I should just apply for another, non-dreamy desk job.
There had to be a way out, a way through.
When I finally mustered the diligence to find a way, I turned to my training and looked deep within.
Being stuck was just a feeling, not any realistic assessment of my skills or talents or determination. It was a passing mood, and like any bad mood, bad day, or bad outlook, it could pivot. So I sat down and wrote out one of many lists I’d memorized for my recent exam—one that it seemed like everyone could benefit from:
The Five Sutras of the Aquarian Age
1. Recognize that the other person is you.
2. There is a way through every block.
3. When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
4. Understand through compassion, or you will misunderstand the times.
5. Vibrate the Cosmos, and the Cosmos shall clear the path.
The Five Sutras (or laws) were given to students of Yogi Bhajan—the teacher who brought Kundalini yoga to the West—as a guide for navigating life in this time of information overload referred to as the Aquarian Age. He knew that we were coming into a time of rapid change and information abundance, and that only wisdom could accurately steer us through.
As I looked blankly at the list, I began to dig deeper, to try harder. And the words began to take on meaning.
I knew that the other person was me. I saw myself in a friend I was worried about, a friend whose health I saw failing as she struggled to find meaningful ways to occupy her time. I could see how underutilized she was, and how that was leading her down a path to depression. I was heading that way too if I didn’t start filling my plate with the things I most loved doing.
The block was the stuckness, the questions of where, how, and when. I couldn’t see the way, but I just had to remember that no matter how anxiously I wanted to see it, there was one.
The time, well, the time is always now according to Yogi Bhajan, and I had to start.
If I could see the parts of my endeavor that scared me most through a lens of compassion, I could make it through. I was fearful and expecting my attempts to be ill received, but if I could see through love, I could be sure to receive it.
My fears and anxieties were keeping me in vibration with exactly where I didn’t want to be. If I was to keep going, I’d have to start doing things differently, and then, the universe would have my back.
Taking these sutras into consideration, I was able to climb out from the place of stuckness I had wallowed in for weeks. Motivation will inevitably wane, but with the right tools in tow, it can always be brought back in greater capacity than ever before.
Here’s how we can apply the sutras to our own lives and get ourselves going when the going gets stuck:
>> Recognize that the other person is you. Life is a constant mirror; it will show us who we are and what we need to address in ourselves through our reactions to others. Remembering to check in with what we are seeing in others will reflect back where we need to apply a little extra love and care to ourselves. And in times when you’re feeling pangs of jealousy, envy, or anger toward others, you are surely dropping the ball on the only person you can control—yourself. When you’re too busy making your own dreams a reality, you don’t have time to feel jealous of others.
>> There is a way through every block. First, you will need to admit what your blocks are, which is easier to do once you face what is showing up in your mirror. Make a list of the things that you are feeling especially envious of in others, then narrow them down to the areas you seem to be struggling with. Now dig into these areas and ask yourself what you can do to improve them.
>> When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off. Resistance is what sells self-help books and pricey life-mastery programs. It’s what keeps you dreaming, rather than doing. The single best way to overcome the roadblocks you can’t help but raise between you and your progress is to start. Keep this sutra in mind when you’re procrastinating, distracting, or rebuilding your website before ever launching your brand; it will remind you that all you need to do is start, and the pressure will be off.
>> Understand through compassion, or you will misunderstand the times. We’ve all approached a situation with the best of intentions and warmest of hearts, and then walked in the door feeling meager and afraid. Expecting fear means projecting fear. Instead, try checking in with yourself throughout the day and asking yourself if you are meeting others with love or fear. If you start expecting the best in people and situations, chances are you just may find it.
>> Vibrate the Cosmos, and the Cosmos shall clear the path. You have to think of your actions as prayers. What you put in, you get out. When people say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” they don’t mean that you will simply attain a job by playing pretend. Instead, it means that by taking action you are creating ripple effects that will bring you closer to where you want to be. If you meditate every day, you will increase your access to the part of you that is always peaceful, wise, and knowing. If you do yoga every morning, you will tone and transform your body. The point is, you must take repeated action—it is your way of communicating to the universe exactly what it is that you want.
Getting stuck is an inevitably of life. Staying stuck is a choice that can too often seem like the path of least resistance.
Keep going, keep growing, and keep these five sutras in mind. And maybe someday, you will look back on even the most crippling of plateaus and smile.
Author: Kristen Campbell
Image: Matthew Henry/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron