Part 4: Flow and Rhythm

Listen to this post NOW on Beyond Everything Radio!

At this point, you should be recognizing an increasing numbers of wave-forms and their patterns in life. I will point out what seems obvious, each wave-form has a rhythm or a pace. For example, we breath around sixteen times a minute, our hearts pump around 60-70 times a minute, the earth goes around the sun once a year and completes a revolution every 24 hours, traffic lights change every couple of minutes, etc…

Keep practicing this exercise of identifying wave-forms. Try and become aware of all the wave-forms within wave-forms or within various dimensions of life in which we are simultaneously engaged. It’s amazing as you begin to see them stack up upon each other. Continue by adding the not-so-easy to recognize ones. Emptying the dishes. Mowing the lawn. Shoveling the walk. Laundry, Shopping. Filling the gas tank. If you find yourself frustrated, or angered, or beset with pain, struggle, confusion, try and remind yourself that you are in yet another wave-form.

As the rhythms become harder to recognize, like those of our relationships, our compulsions, our emotional patters, then they are harder to appreciate and receive. We drift rather than flow. When I coach people through challenges or difficult spots in their lives or relationships, it’s really common for people to say something like: “My spouse and I have this ongoing struggle and he or she is always telling me they will try and do better, and yet here we are again, and it’s not better. I guess all that progress was a big lie, or total BS because he or she is not changing.” It’s easy to miss the fact that relationships are in flow too. Relationships have a rhythm. Going through a rough patch or having the same argument again doesn’t negate any progress or peace since the last time. We wouldn’t say, “It’s winter again, we are right back to where we were last year. This whole year has been a waste.” While it’s true it may be winter, it is not the same winter. We are not on the same year. We don’t breath the same breath. We are not stuck on a problem. We are progressing through it, with it, along side it. We are in flow.

Understanding flow frees us from seeing the world in a binary framework. You are not either inhaling or exhaling. You are not either getting to your destination or stuck in a standstill. Both are necessary components of the single journey. The delay is the flow of the journey.

The Ancient king Solomon had access to everything one could imagine and was completely depressed. He could find nothing that had any meaning.

“And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.  Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

Then somewhere between chapter 2 and chapter 3 everything changes. Instead of seeing life as dis-integrated, meaningless wastes of time and energy, he began to INTEGRATE things he had previously viewed as separate. He began to flow.

“a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:2-8)

The dance is so good, because the mourning is so bad and vice-versa. There is a range of experiences that each have a flow and rhythm. If we enter into an experience we don’t want, Solomon points us to an amazing piece of wisdom.

“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I’ve seen this profound wisdom echoed in countless traditions. Being able to see that “everything is beautiful in it’s time” is the goal and purpose of flow. This isn’t just labeling bad things as good. While that may ultimately be true it may not be true right now. In music, the perfect chord is beautiful but only in it’s right time and place. The events of our lives, like the perfect chord, are beautiful in their time. Wisdom or flow is the ability to see and receive all aspects of the wave-form as each comes and to open our hands as it leaves. In Buddhism this is taught as non-attachment. While helpful, I think we need more proximity not less.

Once we are able to join each moment as it comes, without judging it, without worrying about a later moment, without fretting over a previous moment, without diminishing exactly what is taking place right now, then our world begins to integrate. Richard Rohr taught us in the Living School to take a breath and say, “Ok, now I will receive this.” Eckart Tolle would say that we eventually learn to see events in our lives are neither good nor bad, but only events and when we place upon these events our emotional pain, baggage, confusion, expectations, worries, demands and judgements, we develop a “pain body.” When monotheistic religions talk about trusting God, giving it to God, or accepting reality as “God’s will” they are receiving each moment and trusting that even if the present event is undesirable, it is still going to work out for the best.

It is possible to “be with” this moment by receiving what is transpiring now. Rhythm is closely related to flow because once we understand every moment and event of life unfolded in a rhythm, we can much easier be with those things that we don’t want because we know they too are unfolding into things we do want.

To quote Carl Jung; “No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.

If we want to succeed in any endeavor, we must learn from failure rather than self destruct nor lash out. It is impossible for true flow, or convergence, or integration, until we become free from seeing our world from a dualistic perspective.

May we not be afraid to face our darkness, our sin, our evil, our pain. These things are not unnecessary. These things are not derailments, these are schools of self-awareness, these are the teachers which unveil a larger reality, these are classes from which we must graduate if we will finally learn to flow, or join Ultimate Reality, or walk with God.

Yes our world is full of pain. I believe it’s because it is mostly ignored or avoided. As Richard Rohr says, “We transmit the pain we don’t transform.” This means that we are all empowered, gifted even, to exercise our creative power to design our life. The key to healing and progress, is to design or plan to be with the down portion of the wave-form. Then when it comes, it is seen for what it is, the dance, not the derailment. That my friends is healing. May we all begin to experience the healing which is offered through our deepest, darkest, places of existence. Only then, can we become the architects of the New World.