I’ve been trying for a while now to write a post about flow; explaining what it means to me and how I believe it plays into my life. There are numerous attempts sitting in my drafts folder but none ever seemed to express what I was really trying to say.
This morning it occured to me that perhaps I can’t tell you about flow without first talking about edges.
This past weekend, working on creating ceremonies with a lovely group of people in Matlock, we were all encouraged to try new things and adopt roles and responsibilities we aren’t usually attracted to. A lot of people took up the challenge admirably and in the debrief after our group Lammas ceremony, many people commented on how uncomfortable but empowering it felt to be pushed up against their edges; the parts of themselves they weren’t confident or certain of.
It is neccessary of course to sometimes meet and push against our edges if we are ever to learn and grow, otherwise we remain safe within our comfort zone and never expand beyond that. For some the comfort zone is enough but many of us find ourselves becoming restless and disatisfied if we aren’t able to test our edges every now and then.
It can be a painful and difficult process though, meeting and testing those boundaries that we have created for comfort or safety’s sake. It is always best to be in the right situation before pushing certain edges; particularly those that challenge you on a deeply personal or emotional level. You do not have to be in this process alone, much learning can be done surrounded by the support of friends, family or even a group of like-minded individuals who are holding space with you. A meditation class, a crafting workshop, a walking group, a group of celebrants… all can offer safe ground for you to test your edges knowing that there is a structure surrounding you that will hold whatever comes of it and bring you back to your Self at the end.
Often however we are forced to face our edges alone, because lets be honest most of us don’t enjoy or feel comfortable with exposing ourselves in such a vulnerable way around other people. There are ways to manage this process safetly – including, but not limited to, being in a safe place, arranging to have contact with someone else at some point afterward and always, always, always being kind to yourself – but often we find ourselves pressed against our edges when we least expect it.
Mood swings are supposedly a woman-only domain but anyone who has lived with a man for any length of time will know that isn’t true! We are all human beings, all feeling and complex creatures, who can be triggered into an unexpected place at a moment’s notice. When I find myself pressed suddenly against an edge – often feeling overwhelmed by everything I have to get done in a day or a sense of low self-confidence – my immediate response is to batten down the hatches. I surround myself with the pre-conceived ideas I have of who I am, what I am and what I should be. This feels like a safe and sensible response; by reaffirming who I am I can better face my discomfort. But in truth by doing this I harden my edges making them rigid and even more painful to press up against.
What I should be doing is an old chestnut of advice that I’m sure we’ve all heard (and railed against!) at some point: Letting Go.
Letting go can feel impossible when the edges are that close and feel that impenetrable. I used to think it meant letting go of the feelings I was holding within myself – the doubt, the anger, the fear – and as you will probably know this is incredibly difficult when you’re that tightly bound within yourself. What I have only recently come to understand is that it is the edges themselves we should be letting go of. All those ideas about who and what we are and should be in that moment – good and bad – need to be released; only then do we have the space to feel and finally flow through what is happening to us and out of the other side.
I have always assumed that my edges are the thing that will save me at moments when I feel lost and uncertain. Now I realise that they are actually the thing containing me, holding me back and causing me pain as I press up against them with all my human, feeling might. What I need most at times of uncertainty is the total openess of possibility to be and do anything. To let go of my edges and free my Self to be whatever I need to be in those moments. Without the edges I can ebb and flow with the feelings, allowing them to carry me where they need to until finally they run their course and desposit me – safe and sound – on the sandy shore of my Self. When I manage this (and believe me it’s not always!) I find myself refreshed and relaxed, not bruised and broken from the constant battle with my own edges.
By learning to flow emotionally, allowing my feelings to shift and dance and weave through the whole gamut of human emotion without trying to control them with edges, we come more into line with the nature of the World itself; which ebbs and flows to its own rhythms leaving space for everything and anything to occur. It has no edges, not really, so why should we?
1) Katherine Dowson, My Soul