May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
No forcing and no holding back — to me that is the very definition of living in flow. So often we try to plan or control every detail of our lives that we don’t leave room for mystery — for the unexpected gifts of the Universe. We might have very specific ideas of what our lives should be and what we should have accomplished, and we can get frustrated or feel cheated if our expectations aren’t being met. We might even put this same pressure to meet our expectations on our loved ones.
Life doesn’t happen in a straight line. It’s a winding path that is sometimes clear enough that you can see the road ahead for awhile and sometimes it’s full of brush and bramble and obstructed views. We can find ourselves very anxious in those times when it seems like our plan isn’t working or we’re stuck and have no idea how things are going to turn out. We might start pushing and forcing to try to make something happen, perhaps getting even more frustrated, or we might take the opposite approach and give up entirely, with a defensive “why bother?” attitude. Another track is to trust the Universe: to know that what you need will come at the right time in the right way. It might not be what you imagined — it might be even better!
Trusting the Universe and living in flow is a skill. It’s not always easy, but it’s not that hard either. It just takes practice and perseverance to develop a new way of being. It means to move out of habitual patterns of reacting from fear (clinging, controlling, pushing, or being too paralyzed to do anything) and allowing yourself to be open to new possibilities. We don’t have to know how everything will turn out. Allow yourself to be surprised!
Years of practicing yoga has been immensely helpful towards living in flow, as it helps me to stay connected to center and to stay in the present moment. Being old enough to be able to look back and learn from my life experiences is also a help. There have been periods of “stuckness” or what Osho called “no-thingness” in my life, just as there have been fertile, creative periods. There have even been times of great fear when I didn’t know how I’d possibly survive a situation. But in each case, no matter how difficult, I not only got through it, but I received an invaluable gift: a new knowing … a new path in life that I never expected … a new friend … a new level of peace.
Nothing is not just nothing. It is all.
It is vibrant with all possibilities.
It is potential, absolute potential.
To trust the Universe (or God, or Spirit, or your inner wisdom or any word that resonates with you) you need to be able to connect with Spirit. This means getting your mind out of your way and stilling the chatter so you can hear the voice of truth inside. For me, yoga, meditation, and being in nature get me there. For others, it could be something else. Just wait, watch, listen, and feel. And accept. If you keep doing the same thing over and over and it’s not working, trust that either you aren’t meant to do that thing or you are meant to get to it another way or at another time. Don’t beat your head against a wall. Practice surrender. Relax around the situation and use that energy to move toward what’s waiting for you. Focus on what is working in your life. Focus on the wonderful gifts that you have been given. Notice what’s good. Keeping your energy and focus on what’s lacking will keep lack at the forefront of your life. Be patient. Sometimes those gaps in between the door that closes and the door that opens can seem like a long time. Ask for guidance and keep your eyes and ears open and take action when opportunity arises. Going with the flow isn’t just sitting back and doing nothing. It’s being a partner with the Universe. You have to do your part. When you allow yourself to live in flow, you become more fully alive, awake, and aware. You become open to possibilities.