“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “Go with the flow” on numerous occasions. It seems those with honourable intentions are frequently advising one to sail with the speed of life. But what does it mean to go with the flow? What is flow and how do we take advantage of being in flow?
Go with the flow means offering less resistance to the currents of life. It means practising the art of allowing rather than disallowing. For example you might be resistant to the changes taking place in your life right now. Things may appear to be falling apart on the surface. This might be expressed as a distorted view of reality, since it represents an inaccurate view based on one’s biased perception of what is really taking place.
Perhaps what appears to be falling apart is actually making way for the new to enter. It has been said that nature abhors a vacuum. The old and new cannot coexist simultaneously, therefore an aspect of your life must recede in order to allow something better to fill its place.
Better said than done you might concede. I have come to appreciate that chaos is an essential part of the change process. Tension often occurs prior to a big breakthrough. It might be helpful to think of chaos as ordered chaos instead. Ordered chaos may be defined as a disorganised process leading to a significant breakthrough.
According to the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, author Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi suggests that flow is a stage of being measured by one’s state of consciousness. He proposes that we have an amount of control in how we choose to interpret external events. He highlights examples of those who have been imposed with misfortune, by demonstrating how they chose to create meaning amidst the adversity.
It must be noted that there is a distinction between the concept of ‘flow’ and flowing with life. Yet the two can exist simultaneously. When we achieve a state of flow as Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi suggests, we experience a state referred to as optimal experience. The longer we are in flow, the higher the state of consciousness is experienced. Those who experience flow include; musicians, athletes, dancers or anyone tied to their passion.
Returning back to the flow of life. As we become accustomed to stepping back from the mental drama, we allow reality to permeate through us. This requires courage, as oftentimes we are not privileged in knowing the final outcome and that in itself may be terrifying. However, what may appear fearsome on first impression may become a blessing in disguise and your greatest learning experience.
“As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” – Emmanuel Teney
Let Go of the Need to Control Life
I find surrendering control amid the backdrop of drama and uncertainty, valuable for maintain perspective. I relinquish the need to control life’s outcomes as ultimately I have very little power in how life develops. You cannot influence the forces of life. Often-times one cannot even control their external environment let alone their thought process. Life is continually subject to change in order that the universe thrives and expands.
Have you noticed how life has its own rhythm and momentum? Personally I find it too slow at times. Frustration ensues when I wish for certain processes to unfold faster than they do. Nevertheless, there is a greater purpose for the speed at which life evolves. Rather than oppose these forces, it is worthwhile cooperating with them.
If we merely slowed down to the speed of life, there would be less inner suffering and emotional turmoil. All our needs would be met if we acknowledged universal energy coursing through us. This often means getting out of our mind and into our hearts. Going within means tuning in to your heart’s desires. When there is mental chatter, the voice of the heart is drowned out by the drama playing out in the mind.
The egoic mind has a need to be heard, whereas the heart expresses itself in silent whispers. The egoic mind clings to events and circumstances in order for it to survive. Break for a moment to become acquainted with the language of the ego. You will find it is vested in the need for “more,” “not enough” or “missing out.” These are some of the ways it uses to communicate to you.
It advises us if our needs are not met, we will be unhappy. Although we are likely to be unhappy regardless, since that which is attracted to us may not meet the expectations we have on the inside. It becomes a futile battle waged against your deeper self and reality – how can you win? By minding your inner sanctuary with gentleness and compassion. As you do so, your external reality harmonises with your inner domain. You’ve heard it said before that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world.
I am not suggesting we abandon our goals, dreams or ambitions. Rather, occasionally it may be worthwhile rolling with punches by allowing what needs to happen do so with minimal interference. Life knows and sees all beyond the scope of our limited senses.
A good starting point to go with the flow is learning to transform your worries, fears and anxieties. These lower emotional states feed off one another. The more energy you give them, the greater the emotional intensity. Transforming these energies into higher emotional states allows you to make peace with them, by attending to the messages the emotions are trying to convey.
There is a hidden message contained within every experience. Delve deeper to discover what that message is and I can assure you there is a profound learning experience waiting to greet you.