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Follow the Flow and Flex Resilience

One of the greatest skills you can learn is to adapt to the flow around you.  Life will throw curve balls and when you shift and move with what is happening, versus against it, you develop an incredible capacity for resiliency.  Through resilience, you become less thrown off-course when things don’t go as planned, and you may even start to see the gifts of unexpected circumstances.  Much of this comes from giving space to allow things to unfold versus forcing an outcome.  And while diligence, dedication and planning help you anticipate what will happen, there needs to also be room for improvisation, rallying when called and easing off when needed.

When you flex the muscle of resilience, you become better equipped to handle situations when they feel out of control or take an unexpected turn.  This week, I was given the opportunity to practice adaptability and moving with my environment; while house-sitting for a puppy, I still wanted time for my yoga practice.  The outcome could have been frustration, yelling, constant reprimand of the puppy, or even putting him away in his crate.  Yet instead, I shifted my approach, embraced the mutual needs of the puppy and adapted my practice to include poses where he could sit with me, take part and be included in the movement.  Not only did the puppy feel cared for and welcomed, but by including him, it enriched my experience.  It was the sweetest yoga practice, unscripted, impromptu, and my heart felt fuller than I could have imagined! 

What I practiced this week was adaptation and re-routing, rather than getting stuck in resistance and trying to force the situation to unfold differently.  Living with greater flexibility puts you in a natural alignment of vibration with everything going on around you. It becomes about welcoming the current situation instead of being resistant to it.  In the end, I still had a wonderful yoga practice, and the puppy’s needs were also met.  This created a far more synergistic relationship and yielded an experience I couldn’t have tried to create.  I will share that living this way has taken time and courage.  At other times in my life, I lived with strong resistance to most anything happening.  I wanted life to meet my expectations, to bend to my will, and to offer what I thought was best for me.  The result was an overwhelming feeling of being pulled by a river, and all I wanted was to plant my feet in the sandy bottom and stop the flow around me.  If you’ve ever spent any time in a river, you’ll know that it does NOT stop, and the more I tried to dig in my heels, the stronger my resistance grew.

The reality is that life continues around us, no matter how we feel about it.  Sometimes, when you’re in flow, life feels easy and you’re moving with the river.  Yet other times, you may want to speed up or slow down.  I read an illuminating article from Flowgenome Project that talked about the ‘craft’ one chooses when navigating the ‘river of life.’  There are innumerable metaphors to be derived when thinking about this, but I’ll paraphrase the focus of the article: there are those who prefer to let the river take them where it may, generally seeking milder waters, taking time to soak up the day and accepting they’ll deal with what may come – these are the inner-tubers.  Then there are the kayakers, charging headfirst into the rapids, making the most of their journey, seeking challenge and relying on their skills to right their ship when it may have gone upside down.  And then there are the rafters, those who choose to ride the river in companionship with others, able to paddle as needed, sharing in triumphs as a collective, and knowing there is ample support if things go awry.

I’ll bring this back to resilience: at different points in your life, you may find yourself to be the kayaker, or perhaps at another time, you need a more reassuring ride in the raft with others, and sometimes you yearn for the freedom and abandon of being in an innertube, letting the current of life take you where it may.  When you are resilient, you understand when you need to change crafts; you become accepting of what challenges are thrown at you, and you choose how to ride the current.  Life will not stop moving, you cannot dig your heels in and force things to be different than they are.  You may elect to sit on the bank for a moment, to take a break and observe life as it happens, but eventually, you will need to get back in.  How you get in and the way you decide to manage the river is all up to you.  If you find yourself in a section of horrible rapids, you can lean on your strengths and skills and be that kayaker.  When you need the support of others, you can rally a raft and invite people to travel the path with you.  And don’t forget to recognize when you’re in calm waters and be sure to take a moment to breathe and enjoy the ride!  As you build these skills, you may even find yourself being the one to support others through their rocky journeys.  By being adaptable and willing to allow what is happening, by leaning into the moment and not forcing an outcome, you give space to live in greater harmony with the world around you.

Going with the flow is about having acceptance for where you are and embracing what life is giving you rather than resisting and trying to make it something it’s not.  Learning to recognize and assess where you are, making note of and understanding what is happening around you, allows you to navigate challenges with greater ease.  When you force things to be different or beyond what they are capable of being, you create stress, discomfort, dis-ease and feel an overall discontentment with life.  When you’re in flow, life just feels easier, more fulfilling and you can dream of new rivers to travel.  There’s an old saying to ‘make lemonade out of lemons,’ and it’s not about finding the silver lining – rather, it’s about the choice to make something sweet and pleasing from a sour or bitter situation.  This is the embodiment of being resilient.  By flowing into the situation around you, just like I did with my puppy yoga practice, you come to learn to enjoy the ride, even if it looks a little different than the one you expected.

By Jennifer Rizza, Founder of Newtown Wellness Collective, Healthy Living & Lifestyle Coach, Reiki Master, Yoga Teacher

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