Years ago, I remember watching the movie Forrest Gump. It started with a white feather free flowing in the breeze. It was a visual metaphor for Forrest’s life journey. His life was about someone following the flow without attachment to the results. There weren’t any “what ifs”, there was no second guessing and there was no anxiety. He dealt with what life brought him at the present moment and made the best of it. He was not intellectually gifted but had many great accomplishments. There was no ego, only life and going with the flow. It was brilliant. The movie ended with the feather continuing to blow in the breeze. Of course, because going with the flow never ends.
For years I experienced life as a struggle. I felt like I was always going against the current. As people around me struggled, I thought that’s how life was supposed to be until I learned how to go with the flow. What does that mean anyway? And how does one learn to go with the flow? Ah…life is truly about the questions.
To go with the flow means to be in the experience without judging it, without wanting to change it or control it. Accepting things exactly as they are. Easier said than done! I wish I could say I’ve mastered it and that I am beyond those learned impulses but I am not. Going with the flow is a work in progress. One thing is certain, the more ease that comes into living my life, the more ease I want.
In order to go with the flow we have to trust in the process of life. It’s an affirmation from Louise Hayes I use often especially when I’m anxious and unsure. It works! If you want to see a great examples of going with the flow watch nature shows. You will see that everything has its time. Recently I watched Connected on Netflix, in the episode called Digits they describe Benford’s Law. It shows us how there is a natural order to everything. It’s hard to consider with all of the craziness that goes on.
To go with the flow, we have to believe we are exactly where we need to be, having the experiences we need to have, in order to help us grow. Sometimes the experiences are positive other times not so much. Surrendering to all of it is hard. I’m not gonna lie. Most of us go through life wanting what we want, when we want it and how we want it. It creates a never ending cycle of never really being happy. It’s not so fun!
Going with the flow requires us to let go and let be, like the serenity prayer “…give me the courage to accept the things I cannot change”. It requires us to be present instead of reactive. In one of my favorite poems by Brenda McMorrow she says “…and may I be in allowance of others having their own experience.” Wow…how many times do we try to control the outcome? Ugh… We struggle against our own patterns of behavior. Patterns we’ve been practicing for years consciously or not, like deep grooves in the sand that keep us stuck.
Finally, we have to be able to release our attachment to the end result. This is probably the hardest. Accepting that the outcome is exactly what it needs to be. What?!? Most of us want what we want, when we want it and how we want it. However it may not be for our higher good. What seems like a big disappointment or a failure may simply be because it is not the right opportunity for us. It was not serving our higher good.
I remember when I first started teaching Zumba. I went on an audition and the owner was in the process of building this beautiful new studio with a stage etc., and I wanted to be part of her crew. I didn’t get the job. I was so disappointed I cried. Then I met people who worked for her. They didn’t have nice things to say. Her personal life was a wreck and the studio closed after only three years. Meanwhile the studio I was working at renovated their fitness room, made it bigger, more beautiful and added a stage! I’m still there today almost ten years later. Looking back I was happy I didn’t get that job.
It’s worth the effort to learn how to go with the flow. After a while life begins to feel effortless, exactly as it’s intended to feel, like a feather blowing in the wind, unfettered. I am grateful for yoga, both the physical and spiritual practice. It has been essential in teaching me how to go with the flow. It’s helped me be aware of my attachments to superficial aspirations. If my desires are not aligned with my higher good, I can feel myself struggle against the current. I am learning to fine tune my internal go with the flow barometer, because my intention is to live life serendipitously. At least now I know it’s possible.