From our Western perspective (including my own for a quite a while), and some Eastern doctrines, “going with the flow” is about indulging our sensory pleasures:
eat as much as you wish, act on your impulses, have as many partners as you want—all for the sake of having a good time.
Doing research on this subject, I looked through my library and discovered some notes from one of my favorite teachers (Edwin Bryant) on Vedanta schools lecture. I re-read an article about Cārvāka, the system of doctrine named after its founder (600 BCE). This is a rationalistic and skeptical philosophy based on logical fatalism and religious indifference.
While Life is yours, live joyously;
None can escape Death’s searching eye:
When once this frame of ours they burn,
How shall it e’er again return?
The experiences of indulging and following our endless sensual desires won’t make us happier. (And trust me on that one—I am an expert!) It’s just like a hangover after a night of drinking. It’s fun to drink, but then the morning after always comes…
Instead, consider this: “going with the flow” might mean to follow your dharma. The word dharma comes from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning to “uphold” or to “sustain.” Dharma can be considered to be a lens through which we plan and perform our interactions with the world. Through the dharmic lens, we focus on rights and wrongs and life in harmony with our purpose and our environment. Dharma is one of the keys on the path to freedom. Dharma is your soul’s flow.
Top Five Life-changing Ideas on How to Go with Your Soul’s Flow:
1. Practice, practice, but not just any practice…
Let’s consider our yoga practice. One of many definitions of yoga is to quiet the mind’s chatter so we see the reality more clearly. In a nutshell, this yoga practice should be conducted based on the kala (time), desa (space), vayha (age), vritti (occupation), sakti (energy) and icccha (liking). Simply put, your daily yoga practice is based on your age, where you live, your occupation and your goals. This type of practice will create a balance not only in your body, but also your life. Sometimes “going with the flow” in your yoga practice would mean going against what you wish at the moment.
For example, after my separation from Mysore practice, I embarked on a long journey with my daily struggle to do my home practice under the guidance of my long-term mentor and teach, Guta. It felt nothing like a flow, but a struggle. After years of practice, and many life changes inspired by this yoga practice, I was able to tune in and to find courage to discover and follow my heart’s desire.
- — Find a good teacher.
- — If you are easily excitable, probably doing hot yoga or hundreds of sun salutes would not be a really good idea. But you could really benefit from practicing more “cooling” and relaxing asana and pranayama. On the other hand, if you’re always sleepy and cold, you might consider more heating practice.
- — If you are super flexible then work on strength.
- — Very strong and not flexible then work on flexibility.
- — Always start where you are by accepting your limitations. I am a 37 years young lady with lots of strength and flexibility, but most likely won’t become a ballerina…
2. Find what’s nourishing you.
Another definition of yoga is linking. As the result of the daily practice (Step 1), you start to observe what is nourishing you or not. A few days ago, I met a woman who shared her horrific life story. From being brought up in an abusive household, to marrying an abusive man, to dealing with her horrible manager and spoiled children. Not so much the American dream as a nightmare. We are all f**ked up by our parents and then we accrue our own vices.
I, personally, became very allergic to drama. I grew up in a broken family. By the age of 16, my life was in pieces. I was sick and overweight, an alcohol addict with no direction or future. Most people gave up on me. But with lots of hard work, yoga and luck, I completely changed my life.
- — Start small, look at where your life, does it nurture you?
- — Don’t make any dramatic changes, just observe.
- — What do you eat? How does it make you feel?
- — What you read? How does it make you feel?
- — Do you watch TV?
- — Consider your circle of friends.
- — Cultivate awareness by paying attention.
Remember: nobody can hurt you but yourself.
Suffering is a choice and healing is a choice.
3. Practice (Step 1) and correct linking (Step 2) will fuel your creativity and vice versa.
From the first human who picked up a stick to beat out a rhythm on a log or draw an animal’s picture in the dirt, artists have given name and form to the mysteries. As agents of Tao, or Jesus, or “the absurd,” artists show us the latest version of the truth. They make wisdom dance.
- — Creativity is the twin-sister of reason.
- — “A.C.N.” —always carry a notebook. I have a little notebook titled “the book of ideas” where I write anything that comes to mind from “Hiking Longs Peak” to “going to South America” and many other blog titles. I revisit it now and then and some of the ideas turn into blogs (like this one) and some like “going to the moon” are crossed out (for now).
- — Don’t worry if at first, there is nothing to write about. Just jot down a few sentences.
- — I also have a dream journal. Be careful here…Dreams do come true!
- — Become more spontaneous.
- — Don’t concern yourself with what others think about you or your ideas
- — I love just to turn on some music and dance. Try it—turn the music on and star dancing!
4. Read, read and then read some more.
Svadhyaya—self-study. This often implies studying the spiritual texts. Reading and meditating on yoga sutras of Patanjalli and Bhavad Gita is a part of my daily yoga practice. In addition, I just love to read.
- — Allocate the same time each day to read.
- — Sign up for the public library.
- — Never stop learning!
5. Last but not least, immerse yourself in the natural flow of nature.
It’s the perfect place to observe the co-existence of chaos and unity, mystery and wonder. Growing up in the city, the treasures of nature passed me by, but since I’ve begun to focus on going with the flow, I’ve learned to appreciate what it can teach—how it can inspire.
- — The diamond lit the starry night,
- — The liquid crystal stream of water falls,
- — The cool green blades of grassy fields under foot, between fingers,
- — The precious subtle scents of uncut flowers.
To conclude, “going with the flow” is to follow your purpose or a goal. It could require some work and sacrifice. Mix that with play, and life will provide what you’re really looking for.
Things fall into place, people come and help, you feel synchronicity and you just “know” it…
So, go with the flow, the correct flow!
Please share your flow ideas.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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