In my last blog on The Huffington Post, I received numerous private emails from readers who were interested in the statement by Elia Wise, which seems to beg for elaboration between you and me. For those who did not read it, she wrote the following: "Your embrace of life, your expression of love and your aspiration to self-realization are essential to the circulatory system of All That Is. This is life feeding itself." To which I added, "We can block this flow, or we can choose to facilitate living in the Flow."
Now, you and I know that a great deal has been written the past few years about the concept and experience of Flow. Consider the last time you forgot all about time, all about place and simply were immersed in the experience of complete delight, caught up in timelessness. One of those moments recently for me was while visiting my grand girl, who is 3.5. When my husband and I drove up to their home, little Talia ran to my side, jumped so high she wrapped her little arms and legs around my torso and neck, and squealed with glee: "My nana! My nana! My nana is here. I 'wuv' you, Nana. You are my very best friend, EVER! Mommy, this is my nana!" Well, I ask you now, how could your heart not sing at a moment like this?
We can address Flow conceptually, yes. For me, a much richer way of getting to know Flow is to get to know it personally. As Wise points out, it all has to do with our embrace of the "what is" in the moment. This is the process of coming back to life! So, let's spend a little time together, today, to focus on our relationship with Flow. Let's piggyback on the wisdom words of Elia Wise, and see what we can discover and share.
Embrace of life. Recall an experience you have had with a little one that touched your heart. Children have such a way of naming their truth, their joys and their heartbreaks. When I arrived at my daughter's new home, a plane ride away, my grandbaby was seized by possibilities that would open with her "nana and papa" coming to play. Literally, she galloped along the driveway and yard, barely able to contain her joy. When we left, sitting on her pink trike, her head slumped downward onto her chest, she whispered: "I am sadder than sad, Nana. Don't want you to go. Stay, Nana, stay longer." I don't know whose heartache was bigger: hers or mine. But that is not the point. The point is to be in relationship with what is real, and we are in a mutual embrace with life and one another. Her "sadder than sad" was embracing my "sadder than sad," and our connection only deepened. We were in the Flow together, and that is not half bad.
Your expression of love. Leave it to young children to teach us how important it is to express the love we have to give, and the love we desire to receive. Notice how they dare to go first, even with the vulnerability in expressing love. For them, there is only now. For them, there are only doors to be opened for connection, discovery, amazement in being together, and the miracles that can happen when giving and receiving love. And, how is it that this is possible? Children trust their instincts. They have not yet been burdened with cultural conditioning. Nowhere is this more apparent to me than when teaching what I have come to call "The Process," which is a structured experience in which children and adults are given a safe place in the studio to be free to be who they are. It is a place and space in which all "may dwell free," as language in the fairy tale "The Handless Maiden." There is a distinct difference between how a child self-expresses in the studio, and how the adult approaches the same opportunity. Little ones are free to make a mess, to paint monsters and heroes, tigers and terrors, blood and candy canes, ghosts and princesses. They are "in their process," alive with possibilities of paint flowing onto paper and apron. Adults, on the other hand, give great pause before they are willing to "go with the flow" of what arises from their depths. Adults censor. They have learned what is safe to express "out loud," and what to censor. Adults aim to please. Children aim to find pleasure from what arises from their depths. Adults compare. Children love to love what they have expressed, in an atmosphere free from judgment. Adults fear that what they express will not "be good enough." Children delight in expressing what brings them to the Good of creating something original. Small children give free reign to love expressing Itself through them. Adults tend to harness what might bring them emancipation. Children dare. Adults doubt.
While these may seem like gross generalizations, I assure you, from teaching "The Process" for over two decades, what I share here is true. It is the exceptional adult who dares to express their love for life as freely as the child in the studio. There seems to be this unmuted zest for life, this deeply embedded longing for growth that urges the child to delve deeply into what is possible, what might be discovered in the deep waters of living naturally, free range. I was reminded of this while with my grand-girl. Regardless whether we were drinking milk, eating cantaloupe, climbing onto her slide, or running down the block, Talia's little refrain was: "Nana, this makes me be big and strong!" I do not doubt her.
Her need, and the need of little people you know, too, expresses an intense desire to become the All they were meant to be, to be in the Flow. Around every corner, into every nook and cranny, children poke and prod for new discovery, whether it is budging a spider with a stick, or standing on tip-toe to research sap pouring out of trees in autumn, or doing what they can to relocate that crystalized, golden pitch onto pinecones on forest floor. Elia Wise is correct. All of this activity and eye-of-the-tiger focus in our young reveals what she terms, the Aspiration to self-realization. When we encounter that which we did not know existed before, in quite this way, we deepen and broaden our relationship with the Mystery of life, itself. We are back in the Flow with what makes our heart sing.
What leads us to this place, this deep connection with what Wise calls the "Circulatory system of All That Is?" I am most interested in your answer! Over the years, my observation is that when we follow our instinct, when we trust our instinct, this in itself, opens the portals to a world beyond what we may have imagined as possible. As for me, in my house, if I am not operating in a sense of amazement, for at least a portion of the day and evening, I am invalidating my instinct. Consider when you trust your instinct, and it brought you to precisely what you needed. What were those times? Recall, as well, those situations when you overrode your instinct, and this caused complication you did not need. I remember the night before my son was killed, I had been thinking about him intensely, and phoned just to say: "I'm thinking of you, son, and am loving you." Twelve hours later he was dead. I remember, as well, my instinct to follow some unexpected roads when I came to a fork on the path, and those choices have saved my life. Following them, has also brought tremendous joy: like writing here, although it made no sense to my head with such a busy schedule, and yet doing so anyway, led to getting to know and love you. When we can break free from the bondage of cultural conditioning, all those "thou shalts and shalt nots" of self-expression, we enter the magical and stunningly beautiful realm of the "Circulatory system of All That Is."
This doesn't mean following your instinct is always easy. The mind is a stubborn mule when it comes to freedom. Our ego has a way of convincing us that if we want to be loved, we must fall into line, follow the way of others, in their march over the cliff into an existence of that horrible sameness that it believes is necessary to belong. It is that horrible sameness, that boredom that comes from trying so hard to be who we aren't that leads to our addictions of choice, be it, overindulgence in television, sex, gadgets, gambling, drinking, drugging, over-eating, under-eating, shopping, hibernating, avoiding, whatever. When we over-reach to be who we are not, when we try anything and everything to numb out what we really feel and need to express, we become a plaque in the circulatory system of the All that Is, blocking the Flow and doorway to discovering that truly, we are here to celebrate the gift of this life, to rejoice in the fact that we belong in the Circle of Life exactly, fully who we are, in full embrace of the Good of which we play a crucial part.
This year, as we draw closer to the holiday season, may we pause to consider, what really makes our heart sing? What if we chose, this year, as never before, to enter the Flow of Life in ways that really make our heart sing? What if we did a little experiment that goes like this: "I pledge to embrace life, to release all that deadens me. I vow to express my love in ways that are simple, immediate, and express gratitude for what is. I promise to grow along lines that are natural and renewing for me, in ways that do not harm others or myself. May my life, in these coming two months be a living demonstration that I am part of the All That Is, in Flow with what makes my heart sing, as never before."
Are you with me? Isn't it about time that we harvested more of what makes our heart sing? It is not too late, my friend. As my daughter used to say when she was 3: "Oh, boy, Mommy. Today is another brand new beautiful day!" Back there then, when we lived in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it did not matter whether we were in snowstorm mode, or sunshine. Each day was a brand new day. So is this one. To Life!
Your turn: What makes your heart sing? How could you move more in this direction? What instincts have you followed that have brought you back into Life's Flow? I'm listening! Thanks for forwarding this to all you know.
Special notice: The fourth printing of The Love Project: Coming Home is sold out. So, too, is "The Process" weekend for 2013. If you wish to be to be on the waiting list for the fifth printing, or retreat, contact me below. The next available "Process" weekend will be 1/31-2/2/2014.
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