Maybe you’re not really stuck?

Our Beloved Family:
As a clinical instructor in family medicine at Western University of Health Sciences, I used to perform a simple experiment for the medical students as an example of breaking through barriers. It’s fascinating, easy to do, and makes a powerful statement. You could even try it yourself.

I’d place an ant on a piece of paper and quickly draw a circle around it with a ballpoint pen. Each time the ant reached the edge of the circle, it would turn around to look for another escape route. Reaching a different point on the line, it would turn around again looking for a way out. This went on for nearly 30 seconds. The students were stunned because they saw the ant was totally free and could easily have walked out of the circle and yet, the ant saw itself trapped as if it were inside a glass jar. You can watch the experiment for yourself here.

The secret to this experiment is the odor of the ink. As soon as the ant approaches the line and detects the scent of the ink it is repelled, and so turns around to try to find another way out, only to be repelled yet again.

Obstacle Illusions

How many times do we find ourselves in situations where we think there is no way out with obstacles everywhere we turn? If, however, we took a higher perspective of our situation, we might discover that we’re actually as free as the ant in the circle and could overcome our problems much sooner and easier than we realize. Obstacles are opportunities to learn and grow, not run away from. Overcoming them often requires going through a period of temporary discomfort or pain but the more we put it off, the longer we remain trapped in our imaginary cage.

For the ant in the circle, the only cost of freedom is to experience some momentary discomfort as it crosses the ink line. If the ant chose to do that it would soon realize that the ink is harmless, and it could never be trapped in the same way again. More importantly, it would learn that it was never really trapped to begin with.

American poet, Robert Frost, famously said, “The best way out is always through”. It’s also been said that if you’re going through hell—keep going. Doesn’t that make the most sense? We tend to shy away from the unpleasant parts of life, but that only keeps us unnecessarily trapped inside them. Breaking through barriers requires that we go beyond our comfort level. Elite athletes understand this; no pain, no gain. On the other side of our obstacle, we’re often surprised how short-lived the period of discomfort was and how we underestimated our own strength to get through it.

In our lives, we draw so many circles around ourselves, limitations that are just illusions. At the same time, there are lots of other people drawing circles around us, as well. Maybe you feel trapped in a difficult relationship or limited by a medical diagnosis. The truth is we’re never really trapped. It’s all about perception. That’s the secret of the ant in the circle. Now, it’s your secret, too.

Love, Light, & Clarity in the New Year,
Dr. Habib Sadeghi

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Dr. Sadeghi
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative medical center based in Los Angeles. He specializes in multi-disciplinary treatment for chronic illnesses that include osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, psychosomatic, family, and German new medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-Santa Monica Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. He is the author of two books, The Clarity Cleanse: 12 steps to finding renewed energy, spiritual fulfillment and emotional healing, and Within: A spiritual awakening to love & weight loss. Dr. Sadeghi is also a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and the Huffington Post, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN. Read biography 
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