Flow

FlowAs a stream runs between quiet evergreen groves in Yosemite, tourists along its bank suddenly find their usual excited chatter has all but disappeared. No one has spoken for several minutes, but simply walked and observed in silence. At some moment no one clearly remembers, the urge to speak, to question, to comment…vanished.

Is it the clean air…the long, lovely, sunny walk from the bus? In reality, it’s likely both of these things and more. The stream flows easily, with the subtle sound of water making its way over countless pebbles. The sun’s rays are in no hurry; they simply make their way down to warm skin and muscles in their own time. Most of the vacationers have likely discovered that uneven trails are easier to walk – and the sights around them easier to enjoy – if taken slowly. Even the gentle breeze carries the scent of life taking its time…trees that grow cell by cell for years until they are taller than most buildings. When every sense experiences flow, we’re often inclined at very deep levels to participate.

Flow retains much of the quiet clarity of space energy and the groundedness of water, and introduces movement through that medium. This is why the vacationers in the above scenario didn’t just stand there or sit there despite being in a very tranquil state; they still felt an urge to move, but to do so quietly and freely.

Why are yoga studios such quiet places? Stretching is a way of increasing the flow of energy, of blood, and of lymphatic fluids. To do this optimally the body must be allowed to take its time and be aware of its own reactions to movement and position; flow has enough stillness to act as a blank page with few distractions, but enough vitality and movement to act and communicate. The body and mind are aware of deeply embedded subtleties of sensation that are normally tuned out, and this awareness guides the intensity and duration of the stretch. In this state there’s little if any room for talk.

Why do massage clients sometimes cry during sessions? Because the flow of massage invites the flow of tears. Crying is a way of nurturing ourselves; acknowledging feelings. It’s a very vulnerable thing because it’s a pure expression; it isn’t an action toward changing anything. In its purest form, it is embracing enough stillness to sense who and how we are, and bringing in enough energy to express it in the physical realm.