Mandala Meditation: Flow

mandalaflowWhen I color a mandala, I don’t usually choose the colors. I pick random markers and then look for patterns in those colors to form a meditative thread about the piece.  It’s amazing how there is typically a theme to the colors that I blindly pick out of the silk bag that holds my illustrator pens.

In this one, I felt the thread was “flow.” The colors here are very subdued – purples, blues and greys. It’s evocative of the smooth pebbles at the bottom of a lake.

Go with the Flow

“Go with the flow” is advice that we’ve all received and probably given at some point in our lives. It’s not something that comes easily to most of us and certainly not to me. I often equate “going with the flow” to giving up.

I think many of us do this and that’s why it is so hard for us to relax. In fact, we equate relaxing with giving in.

Really though, going with the flow and relaxation are not about giving up. They are about simple acceptance of the things that you cannot change. Life deals out hardships and we often rage against them. We try to change their outcomes. But some outcomes cannot be changed.

I’ve learned this lesson repeatedly – with the worsening of my vision and with the recent passing of my brother. I cannot change these things. I have to accept them, regardless of how much I want to deny them.

Denial Leads to Struggle

We often equate struggle with strength, but unnecessary struggle is a waste of time and energy. It prevents you from doing the things that you should be doing.

I can only speak from my own experience here but I know that, for me, when I try to change an unchangeable circumstance, I end up in a worse situation. For instance, denying that my vision was getting worse is likely what lead to my increase in migraines & even my partial seizures. I should have been wearing light filtering glasses years ago. But I didn’t want to take that step. I wanted to deny that I was going blind. But in doing so, I probably caused myself more harm than good.

Had I accepted and dealt with what was going on, I could have saved myself so much hardship.

Work with What You Have

When we find ourselves facing unchangeable circumstances, going with the flow is the only positive and productive way to cope. But it doesn’t mean you live a passive life. Instead, you look at what you can do with what you have.

An example, of with which many of us are familiar, you lose your job. You send out application after application and nothing comes to fruition. There have been many studies released that people simply stop looking. They dive into depression.

They don’t go with the flow, they drown.

It’s easy to do this, but it’s better to take stock of your life. Take stock of what you really want and what you’re really good at doing. Ask yourself who you want to be and what small steps can help you make that a reality.

Listen to Yourself and the Flow of Your Life

It’s really easy to tell someone to take stock of their life, but it’s a bit harder to put that into action. That can be a dangerous thing, leading to people focusing on regret and missed opportunities. But that’s flowing backwards.

So, pulling this back into the realm of meditation, when I say “take stock of your life,” I mean listen to yourself. Are you happy? If the answer is no, then why are you doing things that make you unhappy? If it makes you unhappy, it’s against your flow.

A few years ago, I was working at a job that filled me with stress and anxiety.  Although I enjoyed aspects of it, it was far from my dream job. I went to New York to be a writer, after all. I learned valuable things in my time there, but the job was against my flow.

When that job ended I didn’t see it as an opportunity. It filled me with anxiety. I had so many medical bills – that was all I could think about at the time. I was frozen in that thought.

At some point, and I don’t know when exactly, I thought to myself “Well, you’re eating ramen. You’re not making any money. So you really have nothing to lose. So why are you going for jobs you don’t really want? Would you rather be in a stress filled job that makes you money but doesn’t make you happy? Or, would you rather starve but get to write?”

When I asked myself that last question, the answer was clear. I’d rather write. Even if that meant that I had to subsist only on coffee. Once I figured that out, once I got on track with my flow, everything started to fall into place. It didn’t happen overnight, it happened slowly, but now, I’m a writer and an editor.

It’s very strange to say that, but it’s also glorious.

So, if you constantly feel at war with your own life, maybe you need to take a step back and stop fighting your situation and yourself. Do what you want and do it with the situation that you have in front of you.

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