My lesson of learning to go with the flow began when I was a bit younger and staunchly rigid in my thinking. There were no hippy days for my, but there was plenty of time to learn lessons. I'll admit to being something of a control freak. It could even be a mild case of OCD, as some of my children suggest. Things like arranging my M&M's by color before eating them. And hanging my shirts by color, then by sleeve length in my closet. It's not so much that I'm controlling. I just like things to be orderly.
During a time in my life, I had a mentor whose job was to teach me to be a self-sufficient parent, who could support six children by myself. And she knew my story, my insecurities, my challenges, all the intimate details of life that I'm not comfortable sharing with just anyone. And then she retired. Before I was anywhere near self-sufficient. And the project introduced me to my new mentor, Beth Rosen. A beautiful, young woman shining with energy. She literally glowed like an angel. I took an immediate disliking to her. How could such a young, beautiful creature possibly offer any insight into my complex life, I wondered. Well, over the course of a couple of years, I learned how wrong I was.
Not only was Beth beautiful, and insightful, but she was very kind and patient, gently working with me, until I began to trust her. And one day, she quoted from a book she was reading, as I was trying to figure out the course of my life. She told me that it is easier to float downstream than to fight against the current.
I looked at her a moment, awakened by her insight. It actually is much easier to float downstream. And that brings me back to going with the flow. Surrendering yourself to what is. To many, including myself, this surrendering might appear to be giving up. Really, you are giving up. Giving up control over those things you can't control.
I will always be indebted to Beth, for much more than just that simple phrase, but that phrase about floating downstream was so profound for me, that it changed my entire way of thinking. Going with the flow doesn't imply giving up. Rather it is an acknowledgment that we do not and can not control everything in our lives.
Much as we'd like to, there are certain things we can't change, no matter how hard we try to row the boat upstream. I have another friend, who reminds people not to complain about the weather. In fact, it is a pet peeve for her, when people begin griping about the weather. Why complain? It's not as if God would suddenly say, “Oh. You don't like the snow and the wind? So sorry. Let me change that to sunshine and 75 degrees.” Of course that would be nice, but it's not happening.
What does happen, when we get frustrated or angry or irritated by things that don't matter, and thing we can't change, is we spend our time frustrated, angry and irritated. Instead of giving your emotions over to irritation, accept that there are certain things over which we have no control. And that is okay.
When you feel yourself getting frustrated by a situation, or by the weather, or by an interruption, take a deep breath. Hold it for a moment. Now, as you breathe out, smile. That is all. Just smile. Breathing in, feel peaceful, breathing out, smile. With that simple exercise, you can release your irritation, and get back to enjoying the flow of life.
Simple breathing isn't the only thing you can do, to avoid irritation, but it helps. Another thing to do is notice your anger. As you feel that frustration building, take a moment and become aware of it. Step outside of your head and ask, “Why am I so irritated right now?”
What you may discover is that your irritation has nothing to do with the circumstances, and everything to do with you. Maybe you yelled at your kids again. And now you are mad at yourself for yelling, and you are mad at your spouse for not yelling, and suddenly people are upset all around you. Take a moment, go back to the beginning and examine what it is that made you so angry in the first place. Look at why you are angry. Is this something you can change, fix or control? No? Then let it go. And apologize to your family.
Most of what comes along each day to disrupt our peace is unavoidable. External factors will always be with us, and most of them will remain outside of our control. The important thing is to remember that you can see peace in any situation. You can take useful action, while still going with the flow.
Today is an opportunity for each one of us to see the beauty of the world around us. Take a moment, breathe in deeply, and for right now, go with the flow. You might discover the view is even better downstream.
Namaste my friends