Curiosity & Honesty: Entering Into Divine Flow (Part IV)

This is the last in a four part series on Entering Into Divine Flow, the Loving, Creative Spirit-Energy of Existence. If you missed the previous posts, click here for Part I on Adaptability, here for Part II about The Divine Feminine, and here for Part III on Attuning.

Part IV: Being in Divine Flow

Everything is practice. I’m learning this. Over and over again.

What have you been learning the last few weeks during your exploration of Divine Flow?

  • What are your names for Divinity?
  • When you attune your senses to your surroundings and to yourself (both outer & inner), what do you notice?
  • When you attune your heart to Divinity, what sensations arise in your body?
  • What do you feel like when you feel connected to Divinity?
  • Why do you keep practicing?
    • (The answer to this is your intention, your sankalpa, your dharma, your heart’s desire, your vocation, your calling, your purpose – your reason for getting up each morning and moving through the moments of your life.

Dear Sweet Heart,

You are Divine. Divinity does not exist only outside of you. Divinity exists within you. And within me. And within that person neither of us likes very much. And even within that person you and I can’t stand to be around because what they say and do boggles our mind and makes our stomach hurt. Divinity flows through generations of our families, both yours and mine from the beginning of Time, and even through all those families who make us angry because we haven’t yet begun to understand their behavior.

When we experience Divinity within us, we are living Divinity. Our bodies are verbs within which we live our lives; we are embodied, and we are continually being our bodies. Our hearts & minds are verbs, too. We are continually flowing through thoughts and emotions as they arise, remain, and fade away. We notice them as sensations in our body. This is our felt sense of our lives, and it’s happening throughout every moment, throughout all of time.

We get to choose, most times, how we experience our living. Slowing down, noticing, attuning, and connecting helps us make the choices which will bring us into a vibrating aliveness that sometimes feels sparkly & magical, heavenly & blissful, and – yes – divine.

I have experienced heaven on earth. Have you?

Heaven on earth for me is when all things align for the good. For others it is the kingdom of God at your hand. For others it is stepping out of modern society and into nature for moments, days, weeks, or a life at a time. I experience heaven when in my awareness pain is less and beauty is more. When I can walk and laugh with the people I love the most while they’re also able to walk and laugh.

I have experienced hell on earth. Have you?

Hell on earth for me is when all things align for the death of ease, trust, and security for an extended and completely uncertain length of time – and most especially during which time I can not see any end. For others it is separation from Goodness. For others it is pain beyond the ability to laugh, walk, stand. sit, connect. I experience hell when in my awareness every single thing hurts beyond my capacity to sense goodness. And I hurt this way when I sense the same dissonance in the people I love the most, too.

Photo by ALS

Connection

Slowing down, noticing, & attuning allows me to listen deeply to myself and others. It is in this practice that I connect to my truest self – the self that exists without labels, roles, and duties. For me, some of those are: student, mother, change-maker, wife, friend, sister, teacher, writer, encourager, daughter, poet, seeker, lover, beloved.

Underneath the labels, roles, and duties, I am myself. I (just) Am.

Some of you know “I Am” as the name God offers for God’s Self.

This is your name, too. And it is the name of all those people and families neither of us understands.

I have experienced disconnection. Have you?

Disconnection for me feels like blocked energy, pressed down, compacted, congested/ There was flow, or could be flow, but it’s not happening. The possibility of flow makes the blockage worse. There are also sensations of pushing and pulling, which tell me I’m craving, longing and grasping. For others disconnection feels wavy with anger and confusion. For others it feels like stabbing, sharp jaggers of injustice. I’m going to guess that for all of us, disconnection feels like isolation. Isolation is hellish.

I have experienced connection. Have you?

Connection for me feels warm; it is firm-comfort from beneath & swaddled-ness from all around. For others connection feels like giggles, like floating, lightness, weightlessness. I’m going to guess that for all of us, connection feels like being seen and being heard. This is heavenly.

Photo by ALS

Connecting to myself has given me insight into what other people experience. This has allowed me to connect to others in ways I wouldn’t be able to if I didn’t spend time practicing. What I’m practicing is feeling my body’s sensational responses to my inner & outer surroundings, as well as to my own thoughts and emotions – and I’m getting to know what I really feel beneath all my labels, duties, and roles – what I feel at my core – at my I-Am-Ness. What I feel rather than what I think, Then I investigate what my feelings, sensations, and emotions are trying to tell me about what I value. And chances are, what I value as an embodied human being is the exact same thing you value: trust, safety, security, ease, peace, joy, and probably that thing we all call love, that beautiful mix of kindness, respect, generosity, gratitude, empathy, & compassion.

This way of being connects me to myself, my own divinity, and to you, and your own divinity.

It also connects me to all those people that annoy, irritate and frustrate me. And it connects me to all the people I want to move away from – literally, pack up my home and family and

move

away

from.

Being in Divine Flow is a way of being. It is less about the nature of Divine Flow and more about how I relate to the Loving, Creative, Spirit-Energy of the Universe,

Photo by ALS

Relationality

Many things happen in relationship: love, bliss, hurt, pain, trauma, resilience, nourishment. How people relate to one another is what creates community. We also experience all these things in relation to ourselves. For instance, there is my mind, my heart, my spirit, my body, and my own awareness that observes these aspects of my being. Relationship is happening all the time. Our own experience of relationship or relationality depends on our desire, willingness, skillfulness, and ability to connect to ourselves and others. This is why people say “be the change you want to see in the world,” and “creating peace within yourself is necessary before creating peace with others.”

Blocks

Some of us were never taught how to relate to ourselves or others. Some of us were not nurtured and did not learn through experience what healthy, loving relationship feels like and how it comes to be. Some connections weren’t formed in our early life, and we have to intentionally form them now.

For all of us, I think one of the biggest blocks to connection and relationality is pain and fear of pain. I know I put up blocks when I’m afraid of getting hurt, being betrayed, and not receiving the same kind of trust and care that I offer. The behaviors are mostly subconscious, but I know this now, after a lot of inner work and honest reflection.

Other blocks I have spent time with are perfectionism and control, which are fear of pain in other forms – the pain of “not enough-ness” and the possible pain that comes with uncertainty and the unknown, which could cause us harm. Of course, uncertainty and the unknown could also cause us great joy, but our biology and physiology are built to err on the side of less-risk-more-survival. This is possibly why some of us find ourselves working ridiculously hard at trying to control everything (and everyone?), subconsciously or otherwise.

Photo by ALS

Finding the Way Forward

I’ve had some amazing teachers over the years, One friend whom I consider my teacher shared with me her self-check when interactions between people are hard: “Am I kind? Can I be kind in this situation and still speak my truth?” Another teacher offered this self-check: “Will your words or actions drive connection or disconnection?” And still another teacher asked, “Do others have to be in full understanding and in agreement with you for you to act or speak rightly?”

When I’m confronted with especially challenging interpersonal situations, I will pause and ask myself some variation of these questions:

1) Am I intending to drive disconnection, or am I intending to move toward connection?

2) What do I need to do to be both honest & kind?

3) Can I speak and act rightly, even when others are not in complete understanding of my position, or in complete agreement with me?

If I don’t know the answers, I don’t speak.

Many things happen in relationship, and one of my greatest hopes is that I move toward connection and supportive community building. Being in Divine Flow helps me do this.

For Practice & Experience

To practice & experience being in Divine Flow, first take some quiet time to journal or draw your answers to any or all of these prompts that appear at the beginning of this post:

  • What have you been learning the last few weeks during your exploration of Divine Flow?
  • What are your names for Divinity?
  • When you attune your senses to your surroundings and to yourself (both outer & inner), what do you notice?
  • When you attune your heart to Divinity, what sensations arise in your body?
  • What do you feel like when you feel connected to Divinity?
  • Why do you keep practicing? (The answer to this is your intention, your sankalpa, your dharma, your heart’s desire, your vocation, your calling, your purpose – your reason for getting up each morning and moving through the moments of your life.

Then, over the next few days or week, pay close attention to how you relate to yourself and others. Are you able to pause and slow things down?

Second, if you like, journal or draw your responses to any or all of the prompts below, and notice what is revealed to you about yourself. Try to respond from your truest self, without all of your labels, roles, and duties.

  • What feels like heaven to you?
  • What feels like hell?
  • In what ways do you experience connection, and what does connection feel like for you?
  • In what ways do you experience disconnection, and what does disconnection feel like for you?
  • How does curiosity show up in your life? How do you feel when curiosity is your dominant quality?
  • In what ways are you honest about what you need and want? How does it feel to be honest with yourself and others?

Then, over the next few days or week, pay attention to the ways in which you step into and out of Divine Flow.

Notice the times you are aware of Divinity and the times when you realize you had not been.

Experiment with allowing life to unfold, rather than trying to wrangle each event into a super-specific, picture-perfect moment of amazingness. Try savoring the good in each experience, rather than wishing it was something else. It might be really difficult! It might be kinda okay! It could be easy…?

Start with just one 20 minute block of time. Allow 20 minutes to unfold and go with the flow. Then try an hour. Then 1/2 a day. Then a full day. Experience ease, allowing, and unfolding in small moments and in small ways. Feel what it’s like to be carried for a little while.

Bonus Practice:

Notice the ways in which Divinity is already present waiting for you. Notice any amount of longing to connect and be in community, to belong. What does it feel like to connect with yourself, with others, and with Divine Flow? .

(Photos from Pexels.com unless otherwise noted.)

Curiosity & Honesty:  Entering Into Divine Flow  

Curiosity & Honesty:  Entering Into Divine Flow
Or
Svadhyaya & Satya:  A Path to Connection

This 4 part series is an exploration of themes and concepts related to Yoga practice, spiritual practice, and life practice, a rambling through a tangled, muddy wood of experiences; it is a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other adventure into curiosity.  When we are curious, we learn what it means to suspend judgment and step into Divine Flow, the Loving, Creative Spirit-Energy of Existence that moves through all of us.  What it feels like.   What it looks like, sounds like, smells like, and tastes like to allow unfolding, unfurling, and to feel this happening in the moment.

Part I:  Adaptability

In 2000 when I first enrolled in yoga teacher training, I learned that there were “different kinds” of yoga, and really only two:  Hatha & Ashtanga Vinyasa.  The lead Ashtanga teacher at the studio took one look at me and, with her characteristic smile said, “You’re athletic?  You’re coming with me.”  I didn’t know a chaturanga from a chakrasana; I figured she knew best, so I agreed, and experienced a resonance.  It actually brought my worlds together:  Primary Series in Mansfield, Ohio?   Primary Series in Mysore, India.  Holy Mass in Mansfield, Ohio? Holy Mass in Rome, Italy.  It was a fine fit, and through all the years bore all kinds of good fruit, not the least of which was the little website, blog, and small fundraising site The Catholic Yogi (now The Catholic Yogis).

I loved the physicality of the Ashtanga practice.  I loved the pattern and routine.  I couldn’t perform all the postures perfectly or do every single vinyasa, practice 90 minutes a day, 6 days a week, but I sure tried.  And when I failed, I buried my head in the sand, pretended it was fine, told myself it was okay, and didn’t believe myself one bit when I said it.  I had four babies by c-section over the course of 8 years, did more pilates than primary series, didn’t have a separate meditation practice, didn’t have a separate pranayama practice, told myself it was okay that I wasn’t “doing all the practices exactly as prescribed, super-correctly, most auspiciously,” and I didn’t believe myself for one second when I said it.  

 I didn’t even know to look for 

and uncover my own needs.  

I thought I had to want to try for perfection

in every single thing.  All The Time.  

Throughout those eight years, lots of “other kinds” of yoga started popping up all over the place (thank you collaboration and The Internet):   “Mindful Yoga,” “Vinyasa Yoga,” “Yin Yoga,” “Power Yoga,” “Hot Yoga,” “Restorative Yoga”  – the list is seemingly endless.  But I didn’t really feel I could dip my toe into any other water. It just wasn’t even an option for me. It was all or nothing.   I was stuck in a cycle of “Not good enough; can’t leave.”

Some of the reasons I was not able to practice The Primary “as prescribed by ‘tradition’” was because I was a householder, a person with female bone structure, hip dysplasia, chronic inflammation, subacromial compression in the shoulder, and chronic pain.  Not to mention limited physical access and financial resources.  My beginning was “before the internet” or at least before its current iteration, and offered so much less access than the abundance of online resources we enjoy today.  

It is important to note, too, that I didn’t realize much of this when I was young.  I thought I could do everything, and so I should do everything – with or without access, finances, support, accurate information, knowledge, experience, mentorship – should (lots of moralizing there).  In fact, I didn’t know until just three years ago when I suffered an end-range-of-motion injury in ardha chandra chapasana that my hip sockets are, in fact, not “fully formed.”  (Totally the reason my hips never seemed to “open” beyond my “this is always the way it is” baseline arc, no matter the hours of practice over years of effort, and completely the reason my body always recoiled from kapotasana.  Now I am thankful it always felt dangerous enough for me to shake my head and back away.)

I share all this to say that when I was younger, I didn’t know.  And, unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it.  Or until a wise teacher shares it with us of their own accord.  Because, guess what friends:  I didn’t even know the questions to ask.  I didn’t know it was okay to not try to do “the full thing,” to not try to reach for and achieve some version of “perfection,” to not be hard on myself for not already knowing everything about everything.  “Accessible Yoga” didn’t exist back then the way it does now.  And even if it did, I probably would’ve given it the “side-eye” and been all judgy about it.  I didn’t know it was okay to adapt postures or practices to take care of my needs.  In fact, I didn’t even know to look for and uncover my own needs.  I simply thought I had to want to try for perfection in every single thing All The Time.  “Needs” were irrelevant.  

Yes.  This Was Exhausting.

It’s important to acknowledge here, too, that even if we can do something, our explicit ability to do that thing does not imply that it is a wise thing to do.  That’s right.  I said it.  And now you can, too, in case you felt alone in that.  And now we can say it together.  

The first step in cultivating adaptability is giving ourselves permission to do it. Once we allow ourselves to adapt postures and practices, the next step is to experiment. And a healthy dose of curiosity & honesty helps with that.

Curiosity & Honesty

Sometimes honesty is about clarity.  And sometimes clarity is about truthfulness.  When it comes to practicing adaptability, svadhyaya (self-study & study of sacred texts) and satya (truthfulness) are necessary.  We need self-study, the study of sacred scriptures, and truthfulness to get at the heart of our own beliefs and be honest with ourselves about them:  do I believe I must strive for someone else’s, or a certain lineage, tradition, or institution’s concept of perfect, ideal, or full?  When we look at the specific situations and circumstances, are we seeing clearly?  Are we looking to confirm our own biases, or to uncover the truth that takes all perspectives into account?  We need more than asana to practice Yoga.  We need more than someone else’s practices to walk our own Spirit-Path.   So it’s necessary that we get curious about what serves us.

Before we dive into a study of self, scripture, situation, and circumstance, curiosity must be present or we’ll keep banging our heads against the walls of ignorance, judgment, and condemnation.  Curiosity opens the doors of truth.  The desire to learn and understand opens the gates of sectarianism and leads to a path of connection.

When adapting postures, positions, and perspectives, what are the most important pieces?  

  • Knowing you have the permission (from yourself)
  • Knowing you have the blessing (of Spirit that lives in all)
  • Knowing you have the wisdom (within your heart and body) 
  • Knowing you have the ability (to make it happen)

Then?

  • Gathering the courage
  • Accessing the creativity
  • Collecting the support
  • Receiving & Enjoying the benefits

For Practice & Experience

To begin to practice and experience Divine Flow, consider experimenting with these invitations to contemplative inquiry:

  • What do I already know about Divine Flow?
  • What do I wish to learn or experience about Divine Flow?
  • What am I ready to know or experience about Divine Flow?

Alongside curiosity and compassion, take these inquiries into your meditation or savasana practice, then write or sketch your mind’s, body’s, and heart’s responses and impressions.  Notice what you are ready to be curious about, be honest about, and what you are ready to adapt, modify, change, or allow.  Are there non-negotiables?  Are there non-negotiables that are desperate to negotiate?  

What is true for you?

Entering into Divine Flow is a practice of connection. It is relational and requires effort & effortlessness, offering & receiving, allowing & attentiveness.  Remember your most important pieces:  permission, blessing, wisdom, ability, courage, creativity, support, receiving, & enjoying.  Just because we can keep our heads buried in the sand, doesn’t mean it is wise to do.  And just because we can lift our eyes to the horizon, doesn’t mean it is wise to do.  We must do our own inner work with curiosity and honesty, svadhyaya and satya.  Then we can make our own wise choice.  This is the first step.