Day 14 – How to Let Life Flow
“Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Today’s meditation is about learning to let your life flow without resistance or effort. Living in the flow is not something you figure out, or practice to get right. Living in the flow is a state of consciousness; it is the natural consequence of being self-aware in the moment. In that state of expansive, open, accepting awareness there is no feeling of lack or sense of threat. So there is no need to defend yourself, be aggressive, or resist in order to feel safe and complete. To live in the present is to flow with the universe.
Living in the flow is something I learned to do once I was in recovery. I learned a whole new way of life…to live from my heart, rather than from my brain. Until getting clean and sober I rationalized everything. As an intellectual human being I “thought” that the brain controlled everything, that whatever I set my mind to, I could get. My mind could not get me sober. Letting my mind go and living from my heart, in the flow, got me sober.
Welcome to Day 14, our final day in week two – How to Let Life Flow. One of my favorite words right now is “flow”. Have you ever heard an athlete, artist or musician describe what it’s like to be in the zone? They use words like tunnel vision, complete calm, or ultra-focus. Some even liken it to a spiritual experience, a state of elevated awareness where time feels like it’s slowed down or completely falls away. Most of us have been in the zone at one point in our lives. It’s that exhilarating stretch when you know you’ve found the most powerful current and everything just seems to fall into place.
In the zone brings back an entirely different experience to me. When I was still very active in my disease, I offered to babysit my neighbors’ child. When they brought her to my house I had been drinking, probably most of the day. I don’t remember. All I remember is that I didn’t babysit. I really don’t remember that as I was in a blackout. But my kids told me that they came…and they left.
I hate blackouts. Not knowing what I did is the most awful, gut-wrenching feeling. “Fishing” for clues is a horrible task. I could never say that “I drank too much, can’t remember what I did, please tell me.”
Quite a long time later when I was sober and working my steps I got the guts to visit my neighbors, to make my amends. Gut-wrenching again. Fishing again. They told me that when they brought their daughter over so they could enjoy a nice dinner together they found me “zoned” out. Thus, in the zone holds a different meaning to me.
So then, what causes us to get off track or feeling like we’re suddenly swimming upstream? Basketball legend Lebron James is considered one of the most intensely focused competitors to ever play the game. And I once asked Lebron what could possible cause an MVP like him to lose his rhythm on the court. His response was profound. He said, “I get off my game when I start playing for others rather than playing for myself.”
This is true for all of us. We fall off-course the minute our intention shifts from following our heart to responding to what we think others believe. Spiritual teachers call that mindset “egoic”. It’s that false self creeping in, constantly trying to take us down, or to prove, or to show, or to show off. When that happens do what you can to find and follow your flow again, That’s what I teach all of my girls.
Throughout most of my life I was a people-pleaser. I know now that I was not comfortable in my own skin. I did not know who and what I was. I had no purpose. I had no Higher Power. I was living from my brain and not from my heart. I did not love myself. Thus I would do whatever it took to make you feel highly of me because I didn’t. I would put you first, before my family and, definitely, before me.
Today, in recovery, I know, I feel, that I no longer have to do that. I am finally comfortable in my own skin and even love myself for who and what I am…an alcoholic in recovery who has a Higher Power, who has a purpose to carry the message of experience, strength and hope, who can live from my heart…the flow…and stay out of my head.
If you’re in a situation where you feel out of place, uncomfortable, or it’s just not coming together, change direction; find your flow. Follow the natural rhythm of your own life and you will find a force far beyond your own because you’re connecting to the force. That’s all there is.
Let’s listen to Deepak teach us to let life flow and then we’ll meditate.
Change is inevitable, as we all realize, but we accept some changes while resisting others. We push for the outcomes we like and reject the ones we dislike. We hold expectations that some major event, getting married, having a child, earning a promotion, will make everything better. And when things don’t turn out the way we anticipated we are disappointed. These patterns of expectations and disappointment stop the flow of life, as many people experience on a daily basis.
I love the slogan I learned in AA, “No expectations, no disappointments.” Going with the flow is a way better, easier, freer way to live!
The opposite of flow is resistance, pushing against what is happening right now for your desired outcome. Flow is about living without preconceptions or resistance. However, people will say, “Sometimes I have to resist if I face a situation that is harmful or headed for failure.”
But flow isn’t about passively giving in to everything and, certainly, not giving way to negativity and failure. Instead flow involves a trust in life to bring what is needed. In any given situation you are open and offer no resistance. If the present moment calls for strength, it arises. If the present moment calls for a creative breakthrough or comment that soothes tension, it arises.
Recovery has gifted me with a Power Greater Than Myself, a God of My Own Understanding. It has taken many “one day at a time”s to be able to trust, surrender to, accept and embrace this Power. But I have experienced time and time again that if I do trust and let things happen, if I turn off the self-will and control, that things do happen greater than I could ever have anticipated. I do get what I need, not what I want. It’s so perfect!
Any and all responses, including love, insight, truth, creativity and kindness, are available when you’re in the flow. There is no cut and dry response. You are as flexible in your response as life itself.
Clearly the way of life ingrained by society isn’t like this. We are trained to have automatic reactions. We feel safe behind the familiar boundaries the ego has created. Being totally open without expectations may initially sound threatening. But in meditation we experience that this open, unbounded awareness is safe. In fact, contrary to the ego the only place without fear is total openness. It is the place where the present moment can do whatever it likes because we are secure in ourselves. We don’t need to defend our ego boundaries and we don’t suffer because our expectations weren’t met.
Living in the flow is an experience that needs to be nurtured and understood firsthand. There are definite stages of letting go…working through old fears, dropping your fixed reactions and learning the art of allowing. As the ego loses its grip a more holistic way of life evolves. Only in wholeness can there be flow. Achieving this new state involves a journey into a new conception of time.
Yet another reminder from the word “wholeness”. While in a 21-day treatment program every morning in Group we were required to introduce ourselves and say an affirmation. My affirmation was, “I am a good person. I am a whole person”. Wow. This brings back so much transitioning from active alcoholic to grateful alcoholic in recovery.
I hated myself. I looked myself in the mirror every morning physically putting the letter “L” on my forehead because I was a loser; I could not go a day without drinking. I felt like shit. I was a waste of space on the planet. I had no purpose. I was so not “a good person” nor “a whole person”.
Is it odd or is it God that today much of my business comes from mosaic affirmations, motivational and inspirational quotes. And I get to share with customers and people who enter my “Dee bubble” how I got started with affirmations, if they inquire. They love it. I love it! The rigorous honesty. The openness.
As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I let my life flow without resistance. I let my life flow without resistance.” Now let’s prepare for our meditation. Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply. With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.
Now gently introduce the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi. Aham Brahmasmi.” This mantra means my individuality is the totality of life. It reveals that our present moment awareness is always in relationship to everything and everyone in the universe. Repeat it silently to yourself, “Aham Brahmasmi. Aham Brahmasmi. Aham Brahmasmi.” With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness. Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi. Aham Brahmasmi. Aham Brahmasmi.”
I let my life flow without resistance.
The true nature of myself is the wholeness of the universe.
Mahalo for your time in sharing this meditation experience with me. This is one small way I get to share my purpose…sharing my Experience, Strength and Hope. If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep what was so freely given me when I needed it most.
For those interested in my mosaic affirmations please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and have a great day!
From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.