“Flow” is a word that is thrown around quite a lot among those who lead or are seeking more conscious lifestyles. It is also definitely a concept that is important to consider when experiencing Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, burnout, stress or exhaustion of any form.
But what is this FLOW thing?
More than likely the reason it may sound so foreign to you or that you scoff at it is that the personality type who usually experiences burnout is the same personality type who does NOT go with the flow. But why?
Flow is the very opposite of control and holding and tension and willpower. Flow encapsulates energy and ease. Finally, flow requires LETTING GO. Yes, I know that phrase too gets thrown around a lot these days like it’s something you can order from an online site, shrug it on and then move on into the world as the fashionable, free, conscious person that you suddenly become.
The thing is these concepts are so easy to throw around and so very difficult to grasp. To help you out a little, because I really do wish for everyone that there be more flow in your lives (and because it’s my current focus and foremost on my blogging mind), I wanted to share some thoughts on this flow thing. Try to listen with your heart and not your head because flow is a heart experience and not something we can think in to creation.
When I talk about flow I am referring to the flow that is life, that is energy, and that is experience. It is the thing that just happens irrespective of you and your attempts to stop it. Flow is also the space one can slip into where energy flows, things fall into place and it seems like the universe is stepping right up to your doorstep and opening your door for you to usher you through. And naturally, these two concepts of flow are connected.
We have to be open to and allow the processes of life and the ever-changing experiences if we wish to grow and develop. In fact, the joke is on you if you try to buck this process, as each of us was born with this force inside of us that is constantly driving us to grow and self-actualise. And sadly, that joke is not so much a joke as usually the resisting of life and life experiences results in chronic illness, fatigue, malaise, dis-ease and generally being so very, very tired, down, anxious and frustrated.
Consider it like this. If life is a stream of experiences coming your way and a long time ago you made a decision that life is unsafe and you need to control it (usually accompanied by an underlying, belief of “I cannot cope”) you are going to try to do your damndest to control that stream. Sometimes when things seem to be ‘good’ you will try to hold on to that experience and be the boulder further down the stream to block it and keep the experience here in the NOW as long as possible. Imagine the energy that is exerted to stop the mighty flow of that water (after all the littlest stream can form a dam ultimately). Sometimes, you may try to pre-empt life and station yourself as the boulder in the river upstream from NOW so that those ‘bad’ experiences will ‘never come your way’. But what hard work to hold that water at bay.
Basically, because we can look at life as a number of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ experiences and believe that we just will not cope with the ‘bad’ experiences because they are ‘bad’ then we spend our lives exerting willpower to control the flow of the inevitable. Which means we basically spend our lives exerting energy for nothing. We are going to go through those experiences and learn those lessons one way or another. When I see clients come to me feeling desperately tired, feeling desperately out of control and completely depleted the dams they have created are on the point of collapsing under the strain of pent up water OR the dam has already collapsed and it seems their world has fallen apart. That is when I explain that actually you are about to start the most wonderful journey down this stream and while it may start off hard it’s only going to get easier and easier! This is where the second concept of flow comes in. Picture you on an inflatable lilo (perhaps with a favoured beverage in hand) having thrown up your arms in surrender, and floating along with the flow of your life, realising that all experiences are necessary and ultimately work in your favour if you flow with that stream of life.
So, as I like to be authentic in my writing, where do I come into all of this? I have been going backwards and forwards with allowing all the experiences of life to flow through me as I learn and shift in the most profound ways and then suddenly realising that, without even knowing it, I have started to throw a few pebbles, and maybe even rocks in the water and I am actually taking strain exerting my willpower on the stream of life.
However, as I have been better able to a) understand why I try to exert control and willpower and to judge life as good or bad (which always comes down to an illusion of feeling safe) and b) trusting that I am held in the most beautiful, unfolding story that is rich with growing and shining and learning, I have been able to really let go more and more.
Recently, I have been losing myself in a wonderful Yoga Nidra mindfulness program, called Daring to Rest (this is not an endorsement but I always love to mention tools that have helped me). I have literally been losing myself as the old parts of needing to control and fear etc have fallen away and instead I have been able to just trust that I am held and supported and that EVERYTHING IS OK. I have had the amazing experience of profoundly feeling this and while I lose the feeling often, I know it is there to tap back into. Consequently, I have shifted a lot of my expectations, been open to whatever path I will be taken on (while holding an intention of what I would like to feel in life) and generally let go.
Consequently, while I allowed myself to go with the flow of life I have experienced the flow in my life. I have found I feel lighter, I feel softer, and I have more energy. The most incredible part of this flow is that everything is literally flowing for me. The synchronicities are incredible and the experiences that I may have resisted and judged as bad are the very ones that bring about exactly what I need. It is like my life is opening up and unfolding before my eyes, and not always as I expected, but always perfectly and exactly as I need. I won’t lie, it’s not always easy and with the letting go comes other physical and emotional symptoms related to release and emotional detox. However, the difference is that instead of resisting these experiences I just hold these too and it all just flows on by.
There is more about this flow experience that I want to write about – like how to honour your internal flow and the astrological flow and environmental flow (all of the natural cycles and rhythms in life that we often ignore and fight against) – but I am going to leave this for the day as it feels like the right place to end off.
Perhaps you can start to notice where you are being the boulder in your own stream and perhaps try to step out of the way. If you need to leave a few pebbles in the way to feel safe, that’s all good. It can feel quite scary to remove that boulder and stand tall in the face of what life has to offer. But I promise you two things…. You are capable and will ultimately be OK (if you trust in and remain in the flow), and, secondly, you are being beautifully supported by this ever-flowing, unfolding story of life (even the ‘worst’ experiences contains gifts).
Unfortunately, the only way you are going to find out if this is true is to give it a go….
I’ll watch out for you and your lilo as I continue my journey downstream!