I’ve been thinking a lot about resistance and flow lately. This demonstration from Teal Swan and Frederick E. Dodson’s description of flow in Levels of Energy have been really challenging me to rethink how I see things.
This past week I’ve had a very real and vivid realisation that I want to share with you. But first here is a paraphrasing of the metaphor Dodson uses to describe life.
“ Life is a stream. This stream always flows. It flows whether you like it or not. Resist the flow and it overwhelms you. Swim with the flow and you can use it to your advantage. It was already flowing before you arrived into it. It always reaches the destination its meant to reach. This stream diverges into several different streams and converges from several different streams. Each stream represents a different reality.
“ You are sitting in a boat that is flowing with the stream. You have been given oars to paddle. With these oars you can try to go against the stream or paddle quicker with the stream. None of these two are necessary to reach the destination that is perfect and natural for you. Merely and merrily sitting in the boat will suffice for you to arrive exactly where life has ordained.
“ Paddling against the stream (upstream) is what most people call „life”. This type of resistance and struggle is ultimately a complete waste of energy and does not lead you to your most ideal and natural and happy destination. Instead it slows your progress to what is good and natural for you. If it has any benefit at all, then that is that it makes you stronger. The only reason someone would paddle upstream is because he does not trust that the river is taking him to the right places speedily and efficiently. He has lost his basic trust in life, the universe or „higher forces” and feels the need to paddle elsewhere. Another reason for paddling upstream could be because he was taught that resistance will solve problems. This person will exert himself until he becomes so exhausted he gives in to the natural stream again. Many people believe that where the stream is taking them is not to their liking and that life must be struggle and fight. But most people are somewhere in between. While they go with the flow to some extent, they put on a lot of brakes with their oars because they don’t want to go too fast. Going too fast they think they’d be unable to enjoy the current surroundings or they think that they would crash into a stone sticking out of the water. “
When I read and listen to this the first thing that pops into my mind is that song iI learned in preschool, Row Row Row Your Boat.
Here are the lyrics for anyone who doesn’t know them:
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream
The next thing I think of I how much resisting I’ve been doing in my life. Something about his metaphor struck a chorde in me.
Last week I went to a pool where there was a circular stream flowing counter-clockwise. I got into it and followed what everyone around me was doing. Going with the flow. I was focusing on my internal body sensations. They were becoming intense. I was much more aware than usual. Progressively my awareness softened and I found myself feeling the flow of the current around me, feeling it before it moved my body. I could feel the temperature differences in the water and between the water and the air. I could walk and jump quickly. I could go slow, go fast or even stop. I could go left and right and wherever the hell I wanted. Everything was easy, light, effortless. I was having fun. The people around me were smiling, talking, swimming and some were kissing. Then I thought back to this metaphor of life as a stream. I decided to observe what would happen if I intentionally when against the flow of the current and observed how my state of mind and experience would change. So I did.
Here is what happened.
When I turned around and started to go against the current the first thing I felt was the resistance. It was sudden. It was total. I was hyper stimulated by the water rushing against every part of my body. My footing was unstable. I couldn’t go where I wanted to go. The only path available to me was the path of least resistance.
Then I noticed that I couldn’t feel my inner body anymore because my body was overwhelmed by the stimulus coming from the current on my skin. Everybody else was flowing in the other direction. Everyone was against me. I was alone. But I had to persevere and push through. Step by step. The current constantly pushing against me. I tried going to zones where the current was stronger but I would loose balance and would keep defaulting to the path of least resistance.
The world seemed to be against me. I noticed how I started getting more confrontational and aggressive in my thoughts. No pain, no gain, you gotta suffer to get what you want, just keep pushing, step by step and keep persevering.
I can’t tell you how absurd these thoughts seemed to me as I was contrasting them to the previous ease and flow I was experiencing moments ago.
Then quite synchronistically an older man who was going with the flow engaged me:
“ Gegen den Strom danach die Quelle “ he said smiling. Quite literally “ Against the flow then comes the source “.
Those words seemed so profound. He was the only person I talked with while at the pool. I made so many parallels with Source perspective and Subjective reality it was unreal.
Yes … the source can be reached if you go upstream, I thought, but it can also be reached if you go downstream. The cycle of water is such that it will always come back to the source. And yet, one way is easy the other is hard. Is it possible I’ve been living my life the hard way?
After a few rounds of me going on like this against the current, I crossed this man once more.
“ Did you find the Source? “, he asked.
“ Yes, “ I replied.
“ Good. It takes a long time to find the Source, “ he added.
I felt like I was in one of those movies where a wise old man tells you deep secrets of the universe in simple phrases. There again he was right. It does takes a long time. In this circular pool it actually takes about five times longer to go countercurrent than it does to go with the flow. And going with the flow is basically effortless. It also takes a long time to figure out that you are in Resistance in the first place, and then to find the real Source.
After having absorbed the essence of this resistance I decided to go back with the flow and contrast it some more. It was so easy in comparison I couldn’t help myself but laugh. And this is what I’ve been missing all this time?
And so here I am today. A bit confused. A bit surprised. A bit more conscious. A lot more curious to see what I discover next !
How often do we find ourselves in Resistance without even questioning it? Do we really need to make everything so hard all the time? What if we could live with more flow? How much more experience and enjoyment could we get out of life?
Now I can’t stop asking myself: Am I in resistance right now, or am I in flow?
The answers are very insightful.
What do you think about this metaphor?
Where are you in resistance and where are you in flow?