How to Get Out of a Rut

“Instead of waiting and being someone who simply reacts to such a change, We need to be prospective change agents. We need to go after change and design it. We need to place ourselves somewhere that we’re not required to place ourselves, to do action that we’re not required to do. We’re doing it because it’s helpful to others.”

Thom Knoles

A rut, the ever-repeating known, can be a double-edged sword. While some find comfort in a rut, others feel restless and seek answers for how to get out of a rut and start living. Or, you may see a friend or family member feeling stuck and wonder how to help someone out of a rut in an effort to aid them.

The restless are at a distinct advantage when realizing they’re in a rut. Rather than waiting for the inevitable change that brings an end to the ever-repeating known, they opt for the role of change agent and design their own path for how to get out of a rut in life, instead of having one designed for them.

There are countless sources out there that promise to teach people how to break out of a rut. Moreso, they make it seem like how to pull yourself out of a rut is as easy as changing your routine.

However, when you start to feel like you’re stuck in a rut, it’s your mind that can help you evolve and find the change you crave.

In this episode, Thom explains the simple formula for any change agent to follow to get out of a rut. Regular contact with the unbounded, followed by meaningful voluntary service in one form or another.

Thom’s message is a call to arms for any agent of progressive change who is ready to report for duty.

Learn more with Thom Knoles about how to get out of a rut with meditation.

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Episode Highlights


Stop Ignoring the Obvious



Nivar Tatvam – Go Where You Are Not



Let the Mind be Easy



Step Back into the Relative



Colorfast Cloth



Alternating Back and Forth



Premature Contentedness – The Greatest Obstacle to Enlightenment



Seva – Service





Jai Guru Deva


Get Out of That Rut

[00:45] Stop Ignoring the Obvious

Thom, do you have any advice on how to get out of a rut?

Yes. Let’s, first of all, try not to get into the rut in the first place, but if we find ourselves in a rut, rut means the ever-repeating known. It means that we have a defeatist mentality. It means that we’ve lost our capacity to see any possibilities. It means that our creativity has become minimized.

And so we, first of all, have to have motivation for coming out of the rut. And the motivation should be this; change is a constant.

Absolutely everything is changing. There’s nothing that is not changing, and change is uncompromising. That is to say, it can’t be stopped.

There are two ways in which change can occur. Change can either occur through the disintegration of a steady state, which means a continuum of the ever-repeating known will change. Either through it all disintegrating, or change can occur through progression or evolution. Clearly, we would prefer evolution, progressive change.

The way that we get to progressive change is by being change agents. That is to say, “I don’t want to wait for change to come in any design that it happens to have and then have to react to the change. I want to be the designer of the change.”

The way to qualify as a change agent, the way to qualify as someone who is the instigator of progressive change, is to design, consciously, more happiness. And how do we do that? We need to, first of all, stop ignoring the obvious, and stop denying the obvious.


One of the classic one-word lectures given by my master’s master— my master was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and his master was Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, whom we refer to as Guru Deva. Guru Deva, the enlightened master.

Guru Deva had a lecture that he gave on many occasions, which was comprised of two words. In Sanskrit, it is Nivar Tatvam. Nivar Tatvam, it means, and we can interpret it in the following way, “transcend where you are.” That could also be, as far as a commentary on that translation, “Go where you are not.”

That means whatever it is that you’re experiencing, experience something other than that. Move. Just move. Just move.

Make a move in the direction of where you are not. So, we want to have the attitude that, rather than being stuck in the ever-repeating known, we change our experience.

[04:36] Let the Mind be Easy

As practitioners of Vedic Meditation, we do this every day. We sit easily and comfortably in a chair. We close our eyes. We let the mind be easy.

And then, we pick up our specialized mantra or sound that we use for meditation.

And this particular way that we use the mantra, which has to do with effortlessness, allows us to experience the mantra becoming subtler and subtler and subtler, and as it does so, the charm of it increases and increases and increases.

When the charm increases, our mind’s natural tendency, which is to move in the direction of greater happiness… wherever our mind finds itself, it will always want to move in a direction of greater happiness. The mind’s motivation, to get to those more charming layers of the mantra, takes the mind away from the conscious-thinking layer, and into those deep, inner, quiet states.

Those deep, inner, quiet states are fascinating to the mind. When we get to the finest level of the mantra, the charm of it, that is to say, the intrinsic joy that the mind has in experiencing the super-subtle mantra, has reached its maximum point. 

The mantra is at its subtlest, and our mind’s joy in experiencing it is at its maximum. And then the mantra just disappears, and for a moment, our mind is left in a state where there is no mantra and no thought replacing it.

[06:19] Step Back into the Relative

This is the state of Being. Being is silent because it is bliss. And so, the bliss of it causes the mind to fall mute.

Our mind cannot conceive of anything more enjoyable than experiencing absolute bliss. This is stepping beyond or transcending. To transcend means to step beyond.

So, in our practice of meditation, we’re doing this twice every day on a regular basis, and we need, to come out of our rut, we need to ensure that our twice-a-day practice is regular.

But transcend where you are, Nivar Tatvam, as Guru Deva put it in Sanskrit, to go where you are not, also applies here.

We find ourselves in that deep, inner place in meditation.

Now it’s time to Nivar Tatvam. Go where you are not. Step out of The Absolute state back into relativity and engage in relative life. This stabilizes the experience of Being.

[07:31] Colorfast Cloth

We have that beautiful analogy from our teaching, you take a white cloth, you dip it into some deep saffron-colored dye, and then when you bring it out, wet and dripping, its brilliant deep saffron color, you place it in the sunshine, and the sun spontaneously fades it.

The fading of the color, however, is not to be a concern. It’s part of the process of making the cloth colorfast. After a day of fading, we place it back into the dye, and it becomes a deep, rich saffron color again. 

And then, from that deep, rich saffron color, dripping wet, we place it back in the sunshine. It fades a second time. But on the second fading at the maximum faded point, the cloth is a little more colorful than it had been after the first fading. It’s retaining color.

Now, back into the dye, then back into the Sun. Now back into the dye, then back into the Sun. Nivar Tatvam, go where you are not, and alternate back and forth.

A time is going to come when the color saturation is complete. No amount of fading any longer can fade this cloth. The cloth has become colorfast. No amount of sunshine can fade it. 

And so it can be left in the sunshine all day, and it stays a brilliant, bright color.

[09:08] Alternating Back and Forth

The bliss of Being, and then come out, after your full 20 minutes is over, and engage fully in activity, engage the senses, engage the intellect, the mind. Engage everything. That means, interacting with the need of the time.

And then in the evening, go back into the bliss of Being, then come back out again. And engage throughout your evening until it’s time to lie down and have your nap, your big long nap at nighttime. Then wake up and do it again. And like that, alternating back and forth, back and forth, eventually what happens is we are able to transcend the alternations.

What that means is that, Nivar Tatvam means, transcend where you are. If we learned, go where you are not, go from the relative world into The Absolute, bliss.

Go from the bliss back to the relative world. Then go from the relative world back to the bliss. Wherever you are, go where you are not.


What if this becomes a permanent state? Well, then you transcend the alternating. Why? Because now you are grounded in being steadfast.

That deep, inner silence is your nature, and that deep, inner silence being your nature, is looking for something. It’s looking for where is the need of the time? Where is the need of the time?

The need of the time means the world is under the same demand as we are individually. That demand is, change progressively.

Evolve. Become more sophisticated than you were before. Take your current level of sophisticated consciousness and make it even more sophisticated. Be the answer to the problems.

So, one of the things that can happen, and this is again, drawing upon our ancient Vedic tradition, one of the great masters, Maharishi Patanjali, was asked once by one of his students, “What is the greatest obstacle to being a highly-effective, enlightened person?”

His answer was surprising. In Sanskrit, his answer was, “Santosha.” Santosha means premature contentedness.

Premature contentedness is when prematurely we become content. It means that we’re content like someone is content who is driving at 60 miles an hour in the direction of the end of the road that goes over a cliff, but feeling really content because they’re listening to their favorite music and unaware of what’s coming.

[12:22] SEVA – SERVICE

This premature contentedness that we can be gripped by is what a rut really is. A rut means we feel stuck.

It’s time to break the symmetry. Time to really look at the world in which we live and to go out and serve.

We need to find a way to serve. Serve someone, anyone, anywhere. The larger the number, the greater.

But serve means you go someplace that you’re not required to go, and you perform actions that you’re not required to perform. 

This is what service is. You go somewhere you’re not required to go, and you perform actions that you’re not required to perform. 

In aid of what? Making yourself the answer to the need of the time. Making yourself the answer to the needs of others.

In Sanskrit, we have the word ‘seva.’ S-E-V-A, seva. Seva is where we get our English words, service, to serve. To serve, to be of service.

And so, whenever we’re in a rut, it may take just a little effort. In meditation, we don’t use effort, but outside of meditation, we can use a little effort to break the symmetry of the ever-repeating known. Wake up to the reality that you will be required by Nature to change. You will be required by Nature to change.

Do you wish simply to be someone who reacts to a change that is foisted upon you by Nature? Because something is going to change this ever-repeating known into some kind of a critical state.

That’s what the word crisis means. You’ll arrive at a critical state, a state that is pivotal. You’re either going to pivot into disintegration, or you’re going to pivot into integration, evolution.

[14:42] Evolve

And so, instead of waiting and being someone who simply reacts to such a change. We need to be prospective change agents.

We need to go after change and design it. We need to place ourselves somewhere that we’re not required to place ourselves, to do actions that we’re not required to do. We’re doing it because it’s helpful to others.

If only all of those in the world today were as conscious as you are, my questioner, because at least you’ve confessed and admitted to your being in a rut.

The fact is I believe that a vast percentage, a vast majority, as a percentage of the world, actually today is in a rut. But they just don’t like talking about it, and they haven’t been brave enough, as you are very brave, in having talked about it.

If only all of those people meditated twice every day and then carried out seva, took themselves somewhere where they were not required to be, and performed helpful actions that they were not required to perform, then you’re going to experience a dynamic. And that dynamic is that you satisfy Nature’s demand, which is, if it were stated in one word, it would be, “Evolve.” Evolve, this is my answer to you. Evolve.

Jai Guru Deva.

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