You know flow when you’re in it. It has a sense of ease and grace, of effortlessness.
Flow is a state of openess, flexibility, creativity, and unlimited possiblilty.
And it is our natural state of being.
What’s amazing about this is how often, and easily, we get derailed.
There are many things that shift us away from flow, and some powerful ways to get back into the magic of it.
What Takes You Out
One of the big derailers is letting life circumstances dictate our feelings.
When we believe we’re at the mercy of how we feel in response to the events of life unfolding – we are pulled all over the map, and it can seem like a wild roller coaster ride. If we think we have no choice in how we feel, then we’re along for the ride whether we like it or not.
By allowing our emotions to be in charge, we move out of alignment with flow and into the energy of feeling limited, closed, rigid, blocked and stuck. Nothing feels easy or good, in these moments everything has the quality of struggle. Hard. Uphill. Overwhelm.
Getting Back In
A way to get reconnected when you’re caught up in this is to get clear about how you WANT to feel, and then make feeling that way a priority.
When we intentionally choose how we want to feel – and make that the most important thing, we naturally align ourselves with flow.
I’ve been test driving this approach to living for a while now, and it has been my experience that it absolutely works. Danielle La Porte has found a fantastic way to access this truth and created a great structure for applying it. If you want to really roll up your sleeves and get into it, I highly recommend the roadmap she lays out for you in The Desire Map.
I’ve come across this essential truth in other teachings as well, and the heart of it is this:
Get Clear How You Want to Feel
It starts with doing some homework to uncover how you want to feel in your life. There are some great places to look to gain some clarity about this.
One approach is to consider your goals. How do you imagine reaching them will make you feel? Keep looking around in here until you feel you’ve landed on the core feelings you believe achieving them will create in your life. This is actually how you want to feel now (not later when you achieve ticking the goal off your list).
I came up with my 5 “Core Desired Feelings” about a year ago, and they continue to evolve. In the first week of 2015, I decided to focus my attention on one in particular: Delighted.
Good thing, because I got to test drive it early on.
Notice When It’s Not Happening
One evening after a busy day of running errands with several jaunts in and out of the car, I had to make a phone call and realized that I didn’t have my ($100) bluetooth headset.
I remembered back to leaving the house that day. I had dog cookies in my right coat pocket and had put the headset in my left one to avoid getting crumbs in the port. And then all day long I used the same pocket for my car keys.
Keys in, keys out, keys in, keys out. Little ear hook on the headset primed for getting caught on the keys and going for a ride – out of my pocket into the big wide world. Landing in any one of a gazillion places. Pretty much needle in a haystack scenario.
My first ‘feeling’ response when I connected these dots was a mix of aggravation, frustration, self flagellation, attachment to things being different, and a big dose of scarcity.
This of course led to the physical reponse of my blood pressure rising, a tightening in my stomach, and heat that started building as I began feeding the primary feelings with a story: “How could I have been so careless? It would’ve taken me one moment of mindfulness to realize what a dumb move that was and put my valuable headset in a better place. Can’t believe I lost a $100 headset, there’s a $100 I could’ve have spent on x, y, z…” – etc, etc, etc.
In the past I would’ve continued fuelling this story, and all the toxic feelings it generated, for several days.
But now I was armed with a new strategy, and it was time to implement.
Commit to Feeling It
Yes, you get to be in charge of this. Don’t let old stories or conditioning tell you otherwise. That’s garbage. Unless you have a real mental illness, you are always in charge of your emotional state. If you’re not feeling how you want to feel, you have a decision to make.
1) Awareness: I’m creating inner chaos and disconnecting from flow. I’m definitely not crazy about the feelings that are here now.
2) Digging my heels in a bit: (never seem able to skip this stage…) What desired feeling was I working with this week? Oh yeah, Delighted. Hmmm…well, let’s see – nope, I am pretty much not delighted right now. In fact, I can confidently say undelighted is what’s here.
3) Choice: I can stay here, or I can shift. Since delighted is how I want to feel, it’s time to lean in.
Trust That it’s There – and That You Have the Power to Access It
Once you’ve decided how you want to feel, know that it is available to you. We are never limited to a narrow range of feelings, it just seems like that when we are focused on that particular collection.
All feelings are available to us in every moment. More on that in another post, for now just play with it as a working theory. What you want to feel is there, and your job is to get creative about how you can connect with it.
In this case the way in was gratitude. I had just started a work out, and in looking for delighted, I realized how grateful I was to have two fully functioning arms and legs, and a healthy heart and lungs, so that I could engage in physical exercise that supported my health and well being.
That led to my next thought: it was -20 and dark outside and I was in my warm house with lamps glowing and nowhere else that I needed to be but tucked in here. It was really delightful to have this cozy sanctury to curl up in.
Finally, after finishing my workout, I went downstairs and kissed my sweet dog on the nose and thought, I am so delighted to have this little being in my life, and that she is healthy and happy.
These things together were enough to get me there, I had walked myself into feeling very connected with delight, and could now clearly see that losing a $100 headset was not even remotely worth being undelighted. I was back in flow.
The next day, Sunday, I called everywhere I’d been. The vet was closed, but everyone else was open, and no one had seen a headset. I got in my car and drove back to all the places I had been to look in the parking lots and on store floors.
I wasn’t in a ‘need to find it’ state, but more of a due diligence place. And when it didn’t turn up anywhere, I easily let it go and moved on with my day.
On Monday afternoon, I remembered that I still hadn’t checked with the vet so I called them. “Yes,” the fabulous woman at the vet’s office said, “we do have a headset here.” “No way!” I said. “Way!” she said. “Yay!” I said. “Yay!” she replied, “We’ll hold it here for you.”
Might as well be delighted.
What About the Hard Stuff?
Of course this was a relatively easy experience to practice with. There are times in life when delighted is not what’s called for. This is when you want to have other desired feelings to create from, such as wise or courageous or connected…
It’s great to have 3-5 on your list, and to play with each of them in different situations so that you become intimate with the nuances of how each one serves you in working with your life – instead of against it.
The Art of Flow
If you want to dive into a deep exploration of what takes you out of flow – and create a powerful toolkit of skills you can use to create some wizardry and get yourself back into alignment with ease and joy – join us for our
“The Art of Flow” 6 week online course. We run the course a couple of times a year.
Good to ponder:
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept is as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.” – Eckhart Tolle