“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 are no doubt familiar with the expression, “Go with the flow.” Those with honourable intentions advise us to sail with the speed of life. But what does it mean to go with the flow? What is flow and how do we benefit from being in flow? Going with the flow means offering less resistance to the currents of life. It means practising the art of allowing 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, based on one’s biased perception of what is taking place.
What may be falling apart is may be making way for the new to enter. Some say that nature abhors a vacuum. The old and new cannot coexist, so parts of your life must recede to allow something better to fill its place. Better said than done you might acknowledge. I appreciate that chaos is an essential part of change. Tension often occurs right before a big breakthrough. It might be helpful to think of chaos as ordered chaos instead. Ordered chaos may be defined as disorganisation leading to a significant breakthrough. According to the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, author Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi suggests that flow is a state of being measured by one’s level of consciousness. He proposes that we can control how we interpret external events. He highlights examples of those inflicted with misfortune, showing how they created meaning amidst adversity.
What are your thoughts? Can you recall times in your life when you were in ‘The Flow?’ How did it look and what did you experience? The distinction between Flow and the flow of life must be noted here. Yet the two can coexist at the same time. 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 to the flow of life. As we become accustomed to stepping back from the mental drama, we allow life to permeate through us. This requires courage as we do not know the outcome yet, which may be terrifying. Although, what may appear terrifying at first may become a blessing in disguise and your greatest learning experience.
Let Go of the Need to Control Life
“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
Surrendering control of how life should unfold amid drama and uncertainty, is valuable to maintain perspective. I relinquish the need to control life’s outcomes as I have little control how life develops. You cannot influence the forces of life. Often one cannot even control their external environment, let alone their thoughts. Life is subject to change so the universe thrives and expands. Have you noticed the natural rhythms and momentum of life? It may be too slow for some who prefer to ride in the fast lane. Frustration ensues when we wish events unfold faster than they do. Yet purpose is maintained for the speed at which life evolves. Instead of opposing these forces, you may find it worthwhile to cooperate with them.
If we slowed to the speed of life, we counterbalance our inner suffering and emotional turmoil. Our needs are met when we acknowledge universal energy coursing through us. This often means getting out of our mind and into our hearts. To turn within means tuning in to your heart’s desires. When mental chatter is prevalent, the language of the heart is drowned out by the drama playing out in the mind. The egoic mind needs to be heard, since the heart expresses itself in silent whispers. The egoic mind clings to events and circumstances in order for it to survive. Therefore, step back from the dram and become acquainted with the language of the ego. If you listen closely there is a constant need for “more,” “not enough” or “missing out.” These are ways it uses to communicate to you. Have you noticed this inner dialogue before?
It advises us if our needs are not met, we will be unhappy. Although, we are likely to be unhappy regardless since that which we attract may not meet our expectations. It becomes a futile battle waged against your deeper self and reality; how can you win? By minding your inner sanctuary with calmness and compassion. As you do so, your external reality harmonises with your inner domain. Your outer world reflects your inner world. I am not suggesting we abandon our goals, dreams or ambitions. What if we rolled with punches by allowing what needs to happen do so with minimal interference? Life knows and sees all beyond 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 convey. There is a hidden message contained within every experience. Delve deeper to discover that message and I can assure you a profound learning experience awaits you.
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