Flow


Recently the idea of rapids came up as a metaphor. A wise participant of our morning meditation reflections is quoted, “I envision me simply turning sideways in the rapids so that I’m not the obstacle facing it. That’s a comforting metaphor for me.”


I’m living in a body that holds memories no longer useful to me. What do I do with the memories? I have anger. What do I do with the anger?


For so long I ate my anger into submission. I’ve curbed my excitement for life to quell my anger. My feet stand at the rim of a great empty hole once filled with hate and it is emptying slowly, leaving me with confusion.


From Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening


“What the salmon somehow know is how to turn their underside – from center to tail -into the powerful current coming at them, which hits them squarely and the impact then launches them out and further up the waterfall; to which their reaction is, again, to turn their underside back into the powerful current that, of course, again hits them squarely; and this successive impact launches them further out and up the waterfall. Their leaning into what they face bounces them further and further along their unlikely journey. “From a distance, it seems magical, as if these mighty fish are flying, conquering their element. In actuality, they are deeply at one with their element, vibrantly and thoroughly engaged in a compelling dance of turning toward- and- being hit squarely that moves them through water and air to the very source of their nature. In terms useful to the life of the spirit, the salmon are constantly faithful in exposing their underside to the current coming at them. Mysteriously, it is the physics of this courage that enables them to move through life as they know it so directly. We can learn from this very active paradox; for we, too, must be as faithful to living in the open if we are to stay real in the face of our daily experience. In order not to be swept away by what the days bring, we, too, must find a way to lean into the forces that hit us so squarely.”


Currents – by Judy Brown


Currents pull us,

tides, crosswinds.

We come out of an eddy

in a stream, into a

narrow place,

a curve where

water has a

power of its own.


The river has its strength,

the pull of stream downhill

in whitewater, around

a bend, the power of

the seas and oceans, too,

the tides.


And we have choices still

in how we are

within that flow,

as if reed-like we float

so that the current pours

within and through us,

or else in grasping not to go

to some new place,

we lodge crosswise

and broken against rocks,

safely unmoving and

yet crushed by force

of water pushing against us.


We have a choice,

not of the current,

but of the way

we turn ourselves

within its strength.


We cannot foil the tides

but we can learn the timing

and the grace of turning

so that the force of water

gives us strength,

and helps us on our way

to some new place we

Didn’t mean to go,

yet where we can arrive

in safety, with exhilaration,

gratitude, relief,

still whole and even more ourselves

for having found a way to be

in partnership with currents

we had not anticipated.


Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you. I’ve also been thinking about the rapids and how to navigate the rapids and that image of turning to the side. Adding the image of the salmon this morning, I’m realizing that those ways of navigating the rapids are still too scary. I don’t think I have the self-confidence to survive facing it full force and turning to my side scares me too. In dream classes, we are working with elemental forces. This month is the wind. What came to me was an image of a sailboat. And in trying to move forward into something like the wind, you tack. You get the sail full of the wind but you don’t go full-forward, you go to the side and you let the wind pull you back a little. Then the sail fills again and you tack to the side. I was able to work with that image better, it wasn’t as dangerous. I was learning the timing and force, working with nature. Without the feeling of being smacked by anything or feeling swept away. There’s participation and strength and being present and managing the wind. It’s not so scary to me.

  • Thank you. What came to me was the paradox of riding the waves and going with the flow but being in control at some level. Both of those are part of the journey. What also came to me was a canoe accident I was in going down a river. When we hit rapids, the canoe went sideways and that’s when it flipped over. Talking about the safety of going sideways, I had the opposite experience. Not going with the flow of the current. It was scary and difficult but in the end, it was fine. The experience stays with me because we lost control.

  • Thank you. I immediately thought of an experience I had yesterday. As I take over more responsibilities in my life, I experience not wanting the responsibility and feeling like it’s too hard. Yesterday at our storage unit, I didn’t resist it. That image of going with the flow, I got into it and I came up with ideas for problem-solving, more with curiosity whether they would work and not so much invested in the results. I didn’t immediately go to ‘it’s not going to work.’ When I’m in that panic place, it doesn’t feel like a choice. But this felt like a choice. When something doesn’t work, I try something else. It was ease versus angst. It was going with the flow. This is the flow and how can I make it through it. Not by resisting it.

  • Thank you one and all. The reading began with a challenge to turn my most vulnerable forward and lift my energy. The sharings were with gentle forward movement. In this Covid chapter, people are making different choices, and we are in this world together. There are a few people who have made it into this boundary. I participate in it by silence. There’s a piece in letting things be. This morning, I drafted a letter to someone as an invitation to find a middle place. Sending it could be like turning myself like the salmon. Perhaps I’ll reword things. My desire is to have some level of relationship, but silence may be doing its work.

  • Thank you. The ability of the flow can sometimes be easy and sometimes it’s a real fight. Many years ago, today, I was in a traumatizing situation where I had to fight for my life. I realized it was useless, and I had to trust I’d get through it. I kept saying to myself, I have to just be here and stop fighting. The fighting was making it worse. I survived because I somehow was able to go with the flow. I went with what was. I didn’t know if I would survive. Had I kept fighting, I probably would not have survived. As a child, I loved floating on the waves in the ocean. It was a little scary. There were times I would get so relaxed and happy, I’d be a mile away from where I started. I had to learn to pay attention. But that going with the flow like that was delightful.

  • There’s a deep awareness in both situations, it’s like the wisdom part of ourselves is watching, both in the trauma and in the comfort. As hard as it is to go through these horrible experiences, our wisdom part is watching.

  • I faced the deep rapids and I survived them. Let it be, and trust whatever the outcome will be.

  • We learn from it. And we do it when we are ready. I woke up very early this morning with such body pain and I was focused only on the pain and why I have it. Then I started feeling my feelings and I cried. I had to cry, because I’m angry and sad, and I wasn’t allowing myself to feel it. There’s such wisdom in our bodies. It woke me up. And as I cried, my pain eased up. I cooperated with the flow.

  • Thank you. Thank you for being present. I am grateful for this centering, clarifying, clearing time of just being with me. I hope you all have a gentle day as we move with the flow of our lives.

Photo credit: Ezra Jeffrey-Comeau, https://unsplash.com/@emcomeau

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