Have you ever got caught in a fog? You may have been driving in the mountains and have suddenly found yourself “in the clouds”. Or maybe you were hiking near a stream or a swamp and slowly the fog gathered around you.
Being in the fog can be frightening. We are losing control for a while. It is difficult to keep a sense of direction when caught in a fog. Distances and sounds change and the world loses its familiarity. With few cues on which to orient ourselves we may get frightened and lost in this unfamiliar world.
This is also true for those inner foggy patches that life seems to keep in store for us. Every now and then we might find ourselves immersed in an inner fog. One moment we are doing our job, planning our vacation, watching the kids’ hockey game; the next we feel lost, disoriented, alone, and isolated.
Fog is dense water and water is generally associated with our emotions. Likewise, those foggy experiences can often be related to emotional times in our lives: i.e. a particularly stressful time; newly made changes in our lives (a new job, marriage, a move); feeling stuck in a routine and looking for inspiration. But getting stuck doesn’t help us move on. So, what to do if we get caught up in such an inner fog?
Surrender / Staying Quiet
Often the best thing to do in the beginning is just to stay quiet. There will always be things we need to do (work, grocery shopping, preparing a meal, etc.). But for the rest of the days (and nights) it might be helpful to stay low and sit quietly with our feelings, thoughts, and emotions. There may be sadness, anger, fear – signs that we are clearing out the debris of old patterns and paths, that we are getting to know ourselves a bit better underneath that debris. If we stay quiet (that is, if we don’t drown out the fog with TV, books, cleaning, working, or other useful or entertaining activities), we surrender our thoughts to our soul for a while – and thus give the soul a chance to express itself and be heard. It might take a few days until the fog lifts and we see a new path appearing in front of us. Often the most frightening part about this is sitting still with ourselves. With no one else to concentrate on and nothing else to do we are forced to identify ourselves entirely by who we are. This is a great learning experience – it can also be a difficult one.
Choosing a Direction
But what if the fog doesn’t lift even though we have been staying with it for a few days? We might have got stuck in self-reflection; or we are still having difficulties choosing a direction even though we have a new understanding of who we are. Perhaps there are too many choices – a situation that can easily result in paralysis. Those are the times when we may need to take action – any action – to get us moving again. There are some techniques that can help us with that choice. They all require a certain amount of faith and a basic knowledge of our inner barriers, defences, dreams and hopes.
Pick an activity
This method is pretty straightforward: just make a choice and move on it. We can take the first thing that comes to mind; we can take the thing that feels the least work; we can close our eyes and pick blindly. Whatever method we choose, the important thing is to get moving. It doesn’t even matter if the choice we make takes us to a new resolution or a big, new insight. The movement alone is activating and creates new energy and motivation. This method is particularly helpful to get us out of paralysis from too many choices being available.
If we have a basic idea about the direction we want to take but can’t find the right way to get started, this method often helps. We take a moment to imagine the final outcome of the situation as fully as we can: we put ourselves into it, smell it, see it, taste it. And then we let it go! If we hold on to too tightly to our dreams, they won’t be able to gather energy and grow. They won’t be able to guide us. By letting go of the energy of our dreams and trusting that it will find its way, we allow the universe and other people to react to it. New opportunities, new insights, and renewed hope can result from using creative imagination.
Meditation / Prayer
For those moments when we can’t see any direction and feel completely lost, prayer and/or meditation can be helpful tools. Often we create a vacuum around us when we concentrate too hard on what we want or feel we should be doing. We effectively shut off the organs with which we can see the bigger picture and understand how our own actions and movement influence the world around us – and are influenced by this world at the same time. Meditation and prayer help us reconnect to these organs. The activity of quietly going inward, formulating the need for direction and support, and surrendering oneself to the wisdom of the universe and/or God helps to clear our minds and shift our energy.
With a direction in mind we are now ready to move out of the fog. This requires action and will. The most difficult thing about finding our way out of an inner fog often is the fact that we need to do it ourselves. There is really no one else who can do this for us. Friends and family can support us but we are the ones who need to pick up our will and hold on to it as we move forward. We might need frequent reminders of the path we have chosen; we might need occasional boosts of supporting energy; or we might need physical reminders of the choices we made: a symbol on our altar or an image or affirmation we use frequently. And sometimes we might just have to “fake it until we make it” – hold on to the memory of will energy, even if we don’t really feel it at the moment. Most importantly, we need to continuously explore and express who we are in an honest and respectful manner. Over time, as we keep moving, we will find that our willpower increases, the direction becomes easier to hold, and the fog lifts again. At the end of the journey we will have found a new understanding of who we are and what we can do.