Sunday, 10 April 2016

Keep your head above water

Landscaping Your Life (LYL) uses nature as a metaphor for our lives. Which means nature is used to help us find solutions to challenges we're facing. It achieves this in a variety of ways, and many of these have been shared in the posts on this blog - going for a walk, collage, observation and so on.

One process in the LYL toolkit looks at the sayings we're using to describe a stuck state, and uses the landscapes hidden within those very sayings to find the solution. For example:
Once a solution has been found the aim, and you'll have to take my word for this, is to be able to go metaphorically with the flow, and head for the ocean.

Often when stuck in a rut, or unable to see the wood for the trees, the aim to go with the flow isn't contradictory with our current predicament. That is, you can be stuck in a rut, and then move into the flow. If you're in a wood it's certainly possible to then move into the river, and to go with its flow.
When we've treading water, however, or have our head just above the water, it's hard to envisage how going with the flow can provide an antidote. That is we're already in the water, but seem to have got stuck in a holding pattern that's keeping us in one place, rather than be able to move with the river or ocean.

Before I'd realised going with the flow was an objective we should all aspire to, a solution could have been found in any direction within a landscape (and for some it still might).

For example, with a client who had their head just above water (with a fear of imminent drowning that meant they had to keep vigorously treading water) they envisaged taking a journey out of the water into solid land. They imagined moving from head above water, to shoulders above water, to knees above water until they were able to walk up the beach, past the sand dunes, and into a very safe location - well away from the water.
At the time that visualisation helped them to shift the situation they were feeling like they are only just head above the water about. They were then able to identify actions they could take that would start to resolve the situation.

I think that's the clue 'start to resolve the situation' - not resolve it.

On reflection I realise that if I now believe the answer lies with going with the flow, then sooner or later the person above will need to get back into the water. It's very likely once they envisage doing that however, that the learned behaviour to tread water will kick in, and they will once again return to the holding pattern of going around, and around in circles.
The challenge then becomes how to kick the habit. How to head into the ocean, and trust that all is well. To realise we don't need to try so hard to keep our head above the water. To know that abandoning ourselves to the flow is enough. 

I feel the need to remind you that we're still talking metaphorically, because that's the clue to finding the solution. We're using a metaphor to describe the situation, and therefore need to use the metaphor to find the solution. We can't mix the metaphor with real life - a half metaphor, half life isn't an effective long term solution. We have to fully immerse ourselves in the metaphor, and only once we've done that can we try to understand what that means in reality. 

I wrote a short story that may provide the solution to some readers who are currently feeling like they've only just got their head above water. It's entitled The Wave

The Wave is a story that prompted me to realise the reason many resist going with the flow - because we're scared where it will taken us. The rapids, the waterfall, the deep ocean are all scary places when we imagine ourselves floating in the water at the behest of a power greater than us.
What happens however if we realise we are the water, we are the flow, and ultimately we are the ocean. Head above water no longer makes sense - it's as if we're trying to be something we're not. If we are the water, then going with the flow is the most natural thing to do. It's the only thing to do. Water goes with the flow - it's what water does - it's the very essence of water. 

When we're treading water, therefore we're fighting the inevitable, and forgetting the truth of the universe, and the laws of nature. 

If we now jump back to reality, and explore what the metaphorical solution means, then for me it's about remembering our true essence - our authentic self and embracing that self 24 hours a day. 

You may find you've had other insights as you've read this post - that's the beauty of metaphor - we all interpret them differently, and yet will each find the solution contained within it.

Next time you're treading water, or feel like you've only just got your head above water, why not give this process a go, and explore the water in order to find the solution.

Do let me know how you get on. 

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
Using nature to inspire change inside and out
+44(0)7770 538159

This post helping you to stop going around in circles may also help.

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