That magical quality that allows everything to happen with such ease and grace when present.
That magical quality that leads to all sorts of unpleasantness and potential embarrassment when absent.
Flow. Something I want to experience more of in my life. And, something I’ve been intentionally focusing on for the past 2 weeks as part of my 40 Day Challenge Exploration.
I have things to say about flow.
Let’s get started. 🙂
I’m not very good at flowing.
Sidenote: I actually typed ‘glowing’ which I thought was hilarious. Because, no, I’m not that good at that either. Anyway…
I have moments. Moments when everything just clicks and suddenly, there I am, flowing along with ease and grace.
However, it just takes an instant of recognition (hey, look, things are happening really easily right now!) for me to totally lose touch with that flow. It’s as if Awareness of Flow = Goodbye Flow.
I’m much better at just jumping from Point A to Point B with little awareness of what happens in between.
Need an example? I’ll give you a couple.
(a) In my Shiva Nata practice, I feel most comfortable when I know exactly where my hand is supposed to go next.
I’m practically incapable of leaving one hand position before my brain has figured out where the next position is.
Why? Because then I might look like an idiot – just madly flailing about. Which is ironic since that is kind of the whole point of the practice.
(b) In my life, especially when something challenging has came up (perhaps a conflict between me and my boyfriend), I’m super, super, super uncomfortable just being in the flow. I want the conflict resolved. NOW.
I desperately want to get from Point A (the beginning of the conflict) to Point B (having the conflict resolved and things feeling good again) and will do whatever possible to get there the quickest.
Perhaps needless to say, this inability to allow things to flow, this terror of being in the in-between, doesn’t seem to help the situation. Crazy, I know. *shakes head*
There seems to be 2 levels to this fear for me.
The first level involves being afraid to move from one thing until I know exactly where I’m going. When I inquire into what lies underneath this fear, I find things like:
- that fear of being in between, in the unknown,
- of not knowing what’s best for me,
- of getting lost,
- of looking stupid and being mocked,
- of not appearing focused, goal-oriented and purposeful,
- of losing my center, my sense of self,
- of looking disorganized, flaky, uncertain, and…
- the need to be in control in order to feel safe.
The second level is a bit more insidious. This level is about transitions.
For instance, I just received notice that the business I rent my office space from is downsizing to a home office. This means I need to move my office by March 15.
It feels like a good and necessary change.
And yet, right now, I have absolutely no idea what I want out of my next space. I’m in the transition, in the In-Between, without a clue of where I might end up.
Being in the In-Between can be pretty scary.
In my Shiva Nata practice, I’ve noticed all the sensations of discomfort (tension in my stomach, constriction in my breathing…) that arise when I do leave one hand position before knowing the next. How horribly disconcerting it feels to just have my arm floating In-Between until I figure out the next position.
When I actually take the time to tune in, I notice the same discomfort when I think about being in my current transition.
The same is true with conflict with my boyfriend. It’s the not knowing (not trusting?) how Point B will look if I just allow things to rest in the In-Between.
I want the conflict resolved right now so that I know whether we are ok or not. The In-Between terrifies me.
And yet, it’s in the In-Between where all the magic happens.
Or, so I’m slowly learning.
It’s in the In-Between (without a set destination) where an unexpected option or solution suddenly pops up. A solution that is perfectly aligned with my needs, my values, and the qualities I want to cultivate in my life.
It’s in the In-Between where flow becomes a possibility.
Without the In-Between, there is no flow.
Without spending time In-Between, all there is is control.
It’s the In-Between where we have the opportunity to practice letting go, trusting the unknown and surrendering to flow – the flow of life, the flow of innate intelligence that surrounds us, the flow of possibility.
And, here’s the best part.
There is no need to jump into the In-Between in real life.
Everything can be experienced and experimented with through mindful movement.
Playing with the transitions between hand positions in Shiva Nata is showing me the way – illuminating the possibility of a different, more in-flow, approach to life.
What about you?
Do you practice yoga (any style)? Or internal martial arts (tai chi, chi gong, etc)?
If so, the next time you are engaging in your practice, take a moment and place more of your awareness on the transitions between movements versus the actual stances or postures themselves. What do you notice?
Even activities like driving or daily chores can become a practice in noticing flow.
Where is your focus? On the destination or the drive? On finishing the chore or the chore itself?
What happens in the space between various chores?
In short, opportunities for practice are limitless.
Becoming more mindful of the transitions, of the In-Betweens, opens a whole new world of self-understanding and might even lead to increased flow in everyday life.
Or, so I’m discovering. 🙂
Your article reminds me a lot of a recent conversation I had with a mentor: when you can feel into the space between things, not only movement but transformation occurs. I’ve made this a focus of my own meditation, and your article provides a new level of insight to this idea. Thank you. I wish you much joy on your next transition.
Thanks for the well wishes, Sarah. Great quote from your mentor as well. Thanks for sharing!
Emma McCreary says
Interesting. Being in relationship has definitely (tortuously) forced me to expand my ability to tolerate uncertainty, but I never thought of that space as “the flow of innate intelligence that surrounds us”. It makes sense though. I think I’m pretty good at being in that place with myself, and I’m just learning to trust and be comfortable with it when it involves other people.
Oh man. I so get this piece: “I’m pretty good at being in that place with myself, and I’m just learning to trust and be comfortable with it when it involves other people.”
It’s definitely an ongoing learning process for me at this point. The more I can let go and trust the In-Between, the easier it gets… except for when it isn’t. 😉
Hmmm. This is interesting. I am very good at flowing.
I have no trouble flailing around without knowing what I’m doing. In fact, I love it. That’s why I love classes with Havi; I can follow blindly without worrying about what I’m doing. That’s why I love putting on really fast music and moving my arms so fast that I really have no idea if they are even doing the right positions anymore (probably they’re not).
I am always getting lost while driving. I enjoy being lost. I enjoy the driving around without knowing where I am and seeing things I might not have seen.
It occurs to me that it comes back to trust. I don’t mind the not knowing because I trust that it will all work out fine in the end, whatever it looks like in the middle. I just need to apply this to other areas. (My thoughts here are more jumbled so I shall move to my journal. 😉 Yay. More thinking.
Ha-ha! I have figured it out. It does not exactly come back to trust in the way that I was thinking.
Trust comes with flow. When I am flowing, I am full of trust. That’s when I am the me who is full of it. The trouble comes when I block my flow because then my mind gets involved – and it starts wanting details and hows and whys and to see the whole path of the river and to know how x relates to y and on and on .. and then I forget that I can and do trust. Goodness. How clever of me to experiment with following my flow. 😉
Your comment reminds me that there are aspects of my life where flow happens very easily and naturally – like in sessions with my clients. I have absolute trust in them and their abilities to heal and in my abilities to aid that process.
Yes, I totally agree with ‘when I am flowing, I am full of trust.’ For me as well, it is when my mind (worries, anxiety, needing to know/control, etc) get involved, that I lose that sense of trust and thus flow.
Really appreciate your thoughts, Elizabeth! Thank you.
I’m kind of speechless, which should make for an interesting comment 🙂
It’s just that… like in Shiva Nata, I never give much thought to that no man’s land between positions. I’ve been thinking so much about flow and spontaneity, but this transition thing is a layer I hadn’t pondered.
I remember one class where Havi suggested choosing a color for each position, and then visualizing the blend of that color in the in-between. So if 1 = red and 2 = white, the 1–>2 transition = pink.
Now I’m SO excited to try this tomorrow, combined with your flowy thoughtfulness!
Hi Briana 🙂
What a great idea – imagining colors blending. Thanks much for sharing!
And, so great to see you here – I’m quite enamored with all that you are doing over at the Distillery. 🙂