Each week I’ve been gradually teasing out the details of a very simple position, namely that FLOW is Integration within the whole of life. The Hebrew people called this Shalom. The modern mind might think of it as living a life of peace. If you’ve been paying attention, then you know I have diverged from the common misunderstanding that FLOW is a state of mental focus which views shalom (or peace) as the life which is devoid of pain, suffering, or struggle. I’ve shown how FLOW is more like a video rather than a photo, a symphony rather than a note, and it includes all wave-forms, and all aspects of all wave-forms. Since flow is a dynamic way of being, it is not out of reach of any of us. We need only to become conscious of our place in it.
What does it mean when all the dimensions of our life rotate around a single axis point? I call this integration. The dis-integration which abounds in our lives, is a result of disconnecting all the dimensions of our lives and allowing each constellation to possess its own orbit and gravity, which pull us one way or another. Like a busker spinning plates on multiple sticks, FLOW is ignored due to the stress of keeping everything going. If integration brings all things into a single orbit, then convergence is that process of bringing order from disorder, it is bringing form from deformation, it is the journey from a garden unto a city.
My position thus far has been that all people are always in flow and can never be completely out of flow. Our FLOW BIAS reflects our default mode at the time we took the quiz. The barnacle lives, and is sustained, fed and protected by the flow surrounding it. The jelly fish drifts along in flow and is sustained by flow in much the same way, but moves about in life more than the barnacle, but both lack the will, skill or muscle to live beyond their state of total dependence. The fish has power and the mind to choose a direction, it can avoid capture by swimming away, and it can gather subsistence by pursuing it. This is power can now either go with the flow or against it, but it’s life is trapped in a binary where if misses the opportunity beyond hunting and being hunted. The dolphin is more integrated. It has a higher consciousness. It possesses social skills. It can hunt, it can hide, but it can also enjoy its life. These are experiential metaphors which mostly hold up in our self-reflection.
Like the ocean surrounding all aquatic animals, Flow is bigger than any one of us and cannot be limited to a state of focus. What we would describe as pain, suffering, confusion, or degradation of life, (loss of Shalom) is the disproportionate imbalance created by giving one aspect of the wave-form of flow more gravity than another. The off axis imbalance occurs by our own physical, emotional, moral, and spiritual resistance to our most pressing wav-form. Dis-integration is our inability to correctly weight all things in life. We turn our 2’s into 8’s and our 9’s into 4’s. We make mountains out of mole hills or we minimize. This inability to see (spiritual blindness) reveals our binary predisposition, and is a dead give away that we prefer to live at a lower level of consciousness. We intuitively know when life is out of balance.
For example, if we break a bone and can see that it’s clearly out of its axis, we know that healing is the process of converging two bones back to the single integrated bone. It’s a little more challenging to align axis points if we are oblivious to the subtle areas of our dysfunctions. The default mode of all life forms is to maximize convergence (satisfaction) and minimize dis-integration (pain), but our solutions to our problems are often too small or short sighted. We have so compartmentalized our lives, that our solutions are like trying to make progress with two pieces of bone instead of returning to one integrated life. Countless systems offer us perspective about our problems (therapists, spiritual directors, coaches, friends), but too often they default into strategies which take us out of pain rather than take us through it.
Here’s a personal example. I have always had to struggle with some measure of anxiety. As I sought out solutions, each offered a slight benefit but none offered a real cure. Some saw anxiety as a bio-chemical imbalance. Through a healthy diet and exercise program I have seen a benefit. Some view anxiety as a psychological problem. Through cognitive behavior therapy and neuroplacticity I was told I could rewire myself, but it only works so much. Still others saw anxiety as a spiritual concern where I was being oppressed by dark forces and the solution is ritual which keeps the evil at bay. While each offered something, so long as anxiety was the thing from which I was seeking to avoid, I never truly understood flow nor integration.
Once I began to see anxiety as a necessary aspect of a wave-form which is required in my life, I began to invite it to the table, to be seen and to be known so that I could be with it, step into it and be taught by it. Thus anxiety was my refusal to step into my best life, or my inability to see it as “beautiful in its time.” It’s far more than an irrational fear of speaking, planes or tunnels. Anxiety was the byproduct of refusing to be with what is and speaking, planes and tunnels became the concrete, incarnated, attachment points where I was refusing to step into myself. Anxiety, is the tangible reality of the love of God incarnating in my life as anxiety. Anxiety was the answer to prayer, not the thing to pray against. Anxiety is the proximity of my best life, my truest self, pressing into right now.
Can this really be true?
I can now fly on planes with almost no anxiety and with a minimal of ritual because I have resolved all fear of death by going into and joining my future death. With the exception of one tunnel, I can cross through the luminal space into my life awaiting me on the other side and be one step closer to my deepest desires for life. When faced with speaking, instead of ramping up with the butterflies, I join them as the physical embodiment of saying something meaningful. Anxiety is not absent in my life by any stretch of the imagination, instead, anxiety is the metaphor of experiencing THIS moment. It grounds me to Presence when I’d much rather escape. If anxiety terrorizes me in the middle of my sleep, it is not disabling, I don’t fret being tired, I go with it, I watch my physiological transformation, I watch myself be awake, I sit with darkness and learn. I can do this all because I know that as a wave-form, it cannot exist as a state, it is the benevolent love of God rising up in my life and incarnating as this moment. It is but one more way to know and personally experience an aspect of the axious Christ.
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26: 39)
The undesirable side of each wave-form is the required moment for us to become our truest self and to meet in a tangible way our true soul and its Maker. That self is not a self free from anxiety, but the self shaped by it. The down wave-form belongs on the axis of our life.
No doubt your pain, suffering or confusion has a different face. While it may be debt, addiction, relationships, despair, hatred, anger or any other wave-form it is nonetheless a vital aspect of what will create us. Just as we cannot become our true self by giving ourself over to the gravitational pull of these impulses, so we cannot become our true self by their avoidance. This is how moral convictions can mislead us when they are there to bring healing and protection. Those whose behavior is externally correct, but whose inner posture is wanting prove this point. Convergence is the path forward.
If you are curious about this path to healing and integration, please know that it requires a lot of deconstruction. There is a necessary dying process to all those gravitational orbits which create our own personal galaxy. If we starve our addiction, something deeper comes to the surface. It will take courage overcome the fear which erupts when our pseudo safety net is dismantled. Plates will drop. Plates which you think you need or truly value will smash. Think of them as an exchange. You are trading your sacred cows for authenticity and freedom. As they come down, one by one, you will be better able to see and join the single primary axis upon which everything turns (Omega point) and as all things are oriented toward its gravity or glory, then everything in our life is correctly integrated in time, and becomes beautiful. Nothing is missing from each moment. All of life itself becomes an experiential metaphor for truly living.
The next discovery is realizing that every single one of us can orient upon the same single axis and each of our galaxies become the necessary wave-forms which flow in concert with all other wave-forms. We never lose our distinctive identity, but it is transparently grounded and manifested among all others. This is what it means to co-create the New World. This was the original design behind community, a gathering, or the church.