At our retreat in early December, I was exploring an over-riding intention for the year ahead. ‘Effortless Flow’ kept popping up to see how I felt about it. Is it possible, I thought, just to flow along, without effort? Doesn’t that mean that I wouldn’t be trying hard enough, working hard enough? Would that mean being passive and getting swept away by other people’s demands?
When I just explore the words, I feel restricted by language. Yet when I take this idea into daily life, and into my yoga practice, it contains a potency that has helped to bring me back to the joyful wonder of human existence. There is a sense of navigating around obstacles, flowing with a force that is bigger than my narrow-minded, ego-centric focus. I am reminded of my time in Thailand, floating downstream in monsoon floods, and as long as I relaxed, I wasn’t bumped against the rocks, I could flow round them, past them in an energising, exhilarating, yet effortless way.
You see, I can get very serious and anxious at times, particularly about things that feel like my responsibility. Late last year, I was waking at 4am, worrying about a role that I play. Except it didn’t feel light, like a role, it felt heavy, like a weight. It felt that it was about ME – the me that had to solve the problem, the me that had to work even harder to make things right, the me that needed to put in yet more effort to shift the blocks and allow things to flow again. I trusted that flow was possible, and that this was a temporary moment of stagnation, yet I couldn’t believe that the block in this particular drain might actually free itself, without me having to call in the spiritual version of Roto-Rooter.
I did what I could, then collapsed in exhaustion. And after that collapse, of course, good news came, finances improved, shifts happened. Harmony seemed to re-establish itself. Why did I have to exhaust myself in the process? Why couldn’t life be without so much effort, so much heavy sense of responsibility?
In my yoga practice I feel this too. Once I start breathing, and realise that the breath connects me with the atmospheric band that surrounds this planet, I feel supported. I feel I can breathe deeply in and through my knotty places and release them into a vast holding space. When I reach my arms into Warrior II, I can either focus on the aching of the muscles, or I can imagine energy flowing from my heart centre (our yang centre of action) along my arms and out of my fingertips. Suddenly, holding the pose requires less effort. This begins a process of being invited forward, of wanting to dance through my yoga session, of feeling in flow.
It requires practice though; a continual returning to the bigger forces we are in contact with; gravity, air, the earth or maybe that vast sense of potential, which exists beyond our ego-centric self. Our small mindedness can keep us trapped and blindfolds us from something so much more exciting, yet with much less effort involved.
‘Effortless flow’ will be my New Year intention for now. What will yours be?