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Are You Going With the Flow or Just Drifting With the Current?

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you have had an interesting and insightful week, and that your life journey has been unfolding smoothly!

This weeks article takes a look at the often quite subtle difference between going with the flow and drifting with the current in life. It is a subtle difference but a crucial one, and I hope the article is able to shed a little light on how to tell the difference…
The article below is a complementary one to last weeks  offering; “When you have to go against the flow”.

Yours in the spirit of the strength of flow,

Are You Going With the Flow or Just Drifting With the Current?

Going with the flow is seen as a desirable quality; a relaxed leaning into the process of life that enhances our happiness and wellbeing, helps us to achieve more by doing less and allows synchronicity and other larger powers to function more freely in our life.
In contrast, drifting with the current means allowing ourself to drift unconsciously with whatever currents there are in our life without distinguishing whether they are good or bad; we just allow ourself to be moulded by circumstances, habits, fears and so on.

So, what is the difference between going with the flow and drifting with the current? The challenge is that they can look and feel quite similar, and as a result it can be pretty difficult to discern which is which. Let’s take an example:

Drifting with the current
Let’s say I have an issue with my partner that I am feeling emotional about. We sit down to dinner one evening and there comes a natural space in the conversation which would be an ideal place for me to bring up the issue that I wish to talk about. However, because I feel uncomfortable and apprehensive about the subject matter, I simply allow myself to direct the conversation toward another less challenging topic, thus avoiding the discomfort of bringing the issues (that I need to talk about) into the open. This is an example of drifting with the current; I allow my fears and apprehensions to steer me away from that which needs to be said in order to avoid the short term discomfort.

Going with the flow
Now let’s take the same situation; I have an emotional issue that I wish to talk about with my partner. We sit down for dinner, and the flow of the conversation creates a natural space for me to bring up the issue I am concerned about. As this space opens up I feel the discomfort within myself, the fear and resistance to bringing up my emotional vulnerability. However, instead of allowing this discomfort to make me drift away from what needs to be said, I consciously flow with the discomfort and bring up my emotional issue with my partner and we talk it through.

From this we can see that going with the flow does not mean that we avoid the things that make us uncomfortable, rather it means that we flow with what is there, and consciously direct that flow toward a benevolent end.
Going with the flow can be a way of gently confronting the difficult challenges in our life. It is not simply avoiding anything in our way that seems difficult, or allowing our fate to be determined by outer circumstances; that is drifting with the current.

A practice: “Am I going with the flow or just drifting with the current?”
Over the next week or so ask yourself this question a couple of times a day, or whenever you face a choice in your life. Are you using the gentle strength of going with the flow to move forward in the direction you want to go, or are you just drifting aimlessly with the currents in your life?

© Toby Ouvry 2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website