go with the flow

go with the flow

The last several weeks I haven’t felt like myself. I feel stuck in slow motion. Everything, from getting out of bed in the morning to deciding what I’m going to have for dinner, takes so much energy. I suspect it’s because I’m off my routine, which now that I think about it, I haven’t really had a routine in a couple of months. I like to think of myself as a whimsical and fun person, but the truth is I’m really not. I crave scheduling and checklists. I like to know exactly what I have to do and when I need to do it so I know exactly how much time I have in between. I can plan to be spontaneous, but it is hard for me to go with the flow.

I can set out for a run with no route, I can teach a movement class without a lesson plan, I can even strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, but I cannot just go with the flow. It drives me crazy to have “tentative” plans. I manage a lot of activities/hobbies/jobbies and my perception is that I’m far too busy to just “kick” it. This perception is precisely why I feel so listless after weeks of enjoying myself and earnestly trying to go with the flow.

Since September I’ve been out of town a lot, some for work and some for personal things. I’ve run a few races, I’ve visited with my friends. I’ve really had a lot of fun! I am an adult so that means I am in control of my own programming. I chose to make all these plans for myself and break my routine, so why do I feel so exhausted?

I had the great fortune of taking a yoga class with a dear friend

and gifted yoga instructor Cici recently. It was a “Yin” style class that included mostly passive stretching poses. I’ve never practiced this style before, but I knew it would be different than what I was used to. The objective of poses in a “Yin” sequence is to create sensations in the body; to stimulate relaxation by putting the muscles on a deep stretch.

 Cici and Erica co-teaching an outdoor yoga class

Cici and Erica co-teaching an outdoor yoga class

What that means for a person like myself, (a compulsive mover who self-medicates with exercise and pot cookies), is that I am encouraged to slow down. To get the full experience of each pose, Cici instructed us to go to 60% of our max and that let our breath carry us the rest of the way. That probably sounds kooky, but it resonated with me. As I entered each pose, I was careful to leave some “room”; by the last few breaths I moved deeper in some of these stretches than ever before.

It was a pretty amazing experience. I didn’t do much other than choose to be present in the moment. I noticed the subtle changes with each breath, took inventory of how I was feeling, and when it felt good, I let myself go a little further. With Cici’s calm energy guiding me, I was totally “getting it”, and feeling so proud of myself for this awareness and intention. And then, she shared a quote with us, “Going with the flow is choosing to yield to life’s changes instead of fighting against them…”   

Suddenly, it hit me: I have been doing a lot of fighting against the ways and whims of the universe.

By trying to have a routine and add in all sorts of other things, I confused “going with the flow” with “being on the go”. I’m finding these are remarkably different philosophies. “Being on the go” means that I’m bogged down with obligations; doing one thing, but already thinking about the next, or worse lamenting something that didn’t go well earlier. When we live like this, we aren’t fully participating in life. We miss the present.

 spontaneous handstands during a run in downtown Atlanta, GA

spontaneous handstands during a run in downtown Atlanta, GA

Truly going with the flow doesn’t mean you say yes to every single activity.

It does not mean that you plow through life at recklessly high speeds leaving little time for rest or recuperation. Going with the flow means living one day at a time, remembering that today is new and different than yesterday, and appreciating that tomorrow will be new and different all over again. Going with the flow is deciding to take a walk instead of going to the gym because the weather is nice. Going with the flow is seeing an old friend at Target and making plans to get together THAT MINUTE instead of saying you will text them sometime.

If I take a step back, the dissolution of my routine did not result in a universal catastrophe.

I was not careless with my time or dismissive of my responsibilities. In fact, I planned all of this craziness months in advance. I had a sneaking suspicion it would leave me feeling overwhelmed, yet I did it anyway (tips on making better choices to come in a future post…maybe.)

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I over-commit, overextend, and overwhelm myself, but now I have a little more clarity when it happens. I can accept that I can’t have my routine and disrupt it at the same time. I can accept that there are only 24 hours in a day; that once they pass they are gone forever. I can choose to be present, to own my time and how I choose to spend it, WITHOUT FEELING REGRET!

There will be times where the routine falls off, where we must choose between what we *believe* should do and what we want to do.

In those times, we will do well to remember the choice is ours to make how WE SEE FIT. If we only focus on deficiencies, on what we could be doing instead of what we are doing, we miss the present. When we allow ourselves to get excited about what lies before us , even the little stuff, everything changes. After all, being present is a choice.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Bill Keane (or more importantly from Kung Fu Panda 3):

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, which is why they call it the present.”

If you guys have not had a chance to flow with Cici at 110 Yoga, take her class. It’s a real treat!

Namaste,

E

 sea animals are experts at going with the flow

sea animals are experts at going with the flow

Just Ask

Just Ask

thankful, grateful, restful

thankful, grateful, restful