Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zen and the art of flow

Actually I know absolutely nothing about Zen! hahahaha!

Being an evangelical Christian can kind of cramp one's style when it comes to investigating other faith structures ... so of course I've "avoided" a lot of things from eastern philosophical standpoints over the years. :)

I think Zen has something to do with calmness and non-self’ness! (Not sure if that’s even a word really, but it’s the best I can do to describe what I mean). It’s about a kind of emptying of everything about the body including emotion and feeling, thought and physical presence.

So what am I trying to say about this in relation to flow?

Actually! What IS flow?

For me, flow is about process. It’s about a quality or state of being that isn’t defined by deadlines, by duties, by responsibilities or other externals. Flow just is. Flow is Life. It's everything and nothing that happens in a minute, in an hour, in a day, in a year, in a lifetime. Flow is time stretched. Flow is time expanded. Flow is the result of peaceful, soulful, contented non-self'ness.

Life cruises by us at sometimes alarming speeds and we do our best to slow it down at every turn. When it does slow down, we find ourselves wanting it to speed up. We’re never really content to let life just “happen” to us. We get all hot under the collar trying to make life be a certain way for ourselves instead of having an easy calmness and acceptance about the stuff that makes for a life.

Just as river….flows… by some inexplicable force of gravitational pull, the art of developing flow in ones life, between all the pieces that make up that life, requires that we find the source which provides this gentle irresistible pull.

To find that irresistible pull requires that we do not resist it. We need to not focus our desires on it but rather “empty” ourselves of requiring it so that it is able to come naturally and easily without urge or requisition.

When we struggle to find flow in our lives, we are doing just that… struggling! Our struggle actually creates the dam walls that prevent flow from happening. We need to let it go…stop, breathe, let the stream take us to its own inevitable destination and just be in that stream enjoying the ride. We need to take on that leaf-like characteristic of just “going with the flow” instead of trying to be like salmon leaping up against it.

Okay! That’s all well and good as a philosophical construct of flow, but practically????

Yeah! That’s where it gets hard! To find the practical “Zen” thing about flow when ordinary life butts up against wanting to be creative, organised, efficient, and idealistic, can be a real trial and error combination of blood, sweat and tears. That is exactly the opposite of flow. Blood, sweat and tears are not flow… that’s the stuff of salmon story and we are all too good at that!

Prayer creates flow. It calms the mind and sets it loose to be creative. If you don’t want to pray, then do that meditation thing. Empty yourself of the desire to be a certain way and just BE! And yes! It doesn’t make sense because language is difficult like that.

BE as you are right now in the moment. Forget about worrying on tomorrow – that’s salmon stuff again. If you can’t work, then rest until you can. If you need to work and can’t, then make the work interesting enough that it will inspire you to want to do it. Break tasks up, make the process small, make it simple, cut the corners that can be cut and don’t waste time over-thinking preferred results. Just do what you can do right here in the now of your being You.

So - this whole “Zen” thing? I’m not telling anyone to go out and become a Buddhist aficionado in the school of Shaolin! No! No! No! But what I AM saying is that, that kind of thinking about emptying oneself of struggle, will give your body, mind and spirit permission to be as it is in the moment and that can only be better for you in the long run.

If you’re content and fulfilled you will find flow and that will help you to get things done in the future. The more we try to struggle against the flow, the less we end up doing. The less we try to move against flow, the more we achieve down the line.

Flow is about movement. Not just letting life drift by, but embracing life and living in it as it is without forcing it to be anything more.

We live in the present; the present is a gift; a gift is to be opened and appreciated. Don’t sit this gift on the mantel, unwrapped, and worry about what might be inside!

Don’t fight the river by swimming upstream! Enjoy the view instead as you go with it downstream! See where it takes you and just allow everything to be as it is. The less it is about you, the better your flow.

Fill your soul with good things that make you know faith, hope, love and joy. Therein lay the greatest reasons to go with the flow.

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