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

This is the third part 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 and here for Part II about The Divine Feminine.

Part III: Attuning to Divine Flow

How did it go last week?
What was it like to unburden yourself, even just a little bit?

Was it awkward? Strange? Lovely? Weird? Revealing? Blissful?
Whatever it was, were you able to be kinda okay with it? Cultivating “okayness” is part of the flow; and so is attunement.

Attuning the Senses

After wrapping our minds around being allowed to adapt our practices, and then experimenting with different names for Divinity and laying down some burdens, we’re ready to practice Attuning to Divine Flow.

Attuning to Divine Flow means becoming aware of Divine Movement, or, how Divinity flows through you and around you, and then being receptive to that movement.

For me, attuning to Divine Flow requires presence and the ability to pay attention, to stretch my awareness, and to be tender and playful. Remembering that Divine Flow is relational, I put forth effort to engage and notice, and then release effort and allow. In other words, I acknowledge Divine Presence by being present to whatever is happening in and around me, by saying hello in whatever way feels right, and then offering my gratitude or my burdens or both. When something is heavy on my heart and mind, and I’m trying to plan for the future or make big decisions about my career or family, I often ask to be swept up, surrounded, or swaddled: Ah, I am thankful for all the things. And I need swept up in your divine flow. Sweep me up and swaddle me. Then I wait.

In these instances, sometimes I wait so long, continuing to go about my everyday life, that I forget I’ve asked to be in the flow until a curious occurrence or opportunity jog my memory. And then I think, Huh, that’s interesting. It’s as if letting go creates the space necessary for connection, coming together, and alignment. Some people might use the phrase “let go and let God,” and refer to this as “allowing God’s will to be done in your life.”

Other types of difficulties are more immediate. When I’m approaching a specific, challenging situation, or a particular situation I don’t have answers for but need to try anyway, I’ll offer words like these: May your divine flow be with me. Or, Lord, let your divine flow be present in and around me. And then I move forward with confidence that I’ll get some kind of direction. I keep myself awake and alert to new thoughts, ideas, and actions. I practice being receptive to these things, which involves slowing down, pausing, and waiting – even and especially when I’m in conversation with another person.

Being present and attuned means I notice and am aware of all the information coming in from my outer environment through my five senses, as well as information coming to me internally as I scan my inner environment: the quality of my mind & thoughts, my heart and breath rate, my emotions, and the wide variety of body sensations that tell me how my biological systems are doing (interoception), where my body is in space (proprioception), and how safe I feel (neuroception).

Then I wait and allow. “Allowing” in this instance means that instead of filling in gaps with extra words, I just wait. Instead of trying to control, change, or fix, I just “be with.” This isn’t always easy, but it isn’t always difficult either. In this waiting I keep on noticing myself, but I’m also aware of the other person or people. I’m paying attention to their words, facial expressions, body language, and energy.

There’s a tenderness in slowing down

There’s a tenderness in slowing down and in waiting. It’s in direct opposition to the pervading sense of time urgency in our daily lives and the driving sense that we need to do everything as quickly as possible. Slowing down and waiting is an offering of space and time, not only to myself, but also to the other person.

The playfulness comes in when I get a silly idea, or an idea that seems out of character for me and decide to go for it. Sometimes when working with young students as a resilience coach, I get stuck, really at a loss for what to do or say next. In these moments I’ve practiced being aware enough to ask, Come on divine flow…. Then wait, allow, and receive ideas like, play a game, don’t talk, create something together, be silent, sing, do a little science experiment, try puppets. It’s a letting go of seriousness. Then movement happens, words flow, ideas come, suggestions are offered, and I’m out of stuck-ness. I’m in flow.

Attuning the Heart

Other times, attuning to Divine Flow is a shift of my energetic heart – my unwounded heart. There is sometimes a warmth in the center of my chest when I concentrate on creating connection, on loving and being loved, and stepping into Divine Flow. When people and life and circumstances are impossibly complicated, allowing my mind to be quiet, moving the soft light of my attention to my heart brings me into a place where words are unnecessary.

Then there’s just the felt sense of warmth. I don’t offer or ask anything with words, but my heart-energy sings loudly. From my heart’s core connection to the unstruck sound, the Loving, Uncreated, Creative-Spirit-Energy of Existence responds with its own movement inside me. It’s like a pull and a longing to be in connection with Divine Flow and others, and to move through the world as kindness.

When both the senses and the heart are attuned in this way, I feel an ease and an acceptance. So that even if the outcomes are not what I had wished or hoped for, I can be okay with sensations of disappointment swaddled, wrapped up, and comforted in Divine Flowing Presence.

To Practice & Experience

  • Choose a day to practice attuning your senses.
    Set an intention to slow down and to notice how it feels to be alive, how it feels to be you. Take time to look deeply, listen fully, smell thoroughly, taste completely. Experience what it feels like to be connected and present to what is.
  • Choose a day to practice attuning your heart.
    Say hello to Divinity. Set an intention to be present to Presence. Shift your heart-energy toward loving-kindness & connection and be open to new thoughts, perspective, and ideas.
  • Choose a day to practice attuning to Divine Flow.
    Set an intention to notice Divine Movement & how Divinity flows through you, in you, and around you. Notice sensation. How does it feel to be alive, to be you, and to be connected to the Loving, Creative, Spirit-Energy of the Universe?

Making Space for Presence

This post explores the science of emotions, the research on social aspects of teaching, as well as the work of embodiment and how it can support us in moments of difficulty or overwhelm. At the end you’ll find an offering to create space for empathy & compassion for yourself & others.

Emotions
Dr. Eve Ekman is a contemplative social scientist and teacher in the field of emotional awareness and burnout prevention.  She defines emotion as “a process that is triggered in 1/25 of a second, lasts only about 30 – 90 seconds, and helps us respond to important challenges.”  Emotions get our attention and remind us of our values.  Being aware of our emotions allows us to acknowledge them without criticism and make wise choices about our role in what comes next.

Teamwork

Community 
Community spaces are filled with people, and as such are filled with emotions, as well as lots of triggers!  This is just as true for digital interactive spaces as it is for in-person events.  Whether you’re a leader, participant, student, teacher, parent, child, or all of these and more, spending hours each day in social environments creates an opportunity for emotional exhaustion

Research in education shows that practicing mindful awareness can help decrease burnout and increase an overall sense of well-being.  Because this is true in K-12 learning environments, we can reasonably extend these findings to include a variety of other group settings, such as professional and corporate offices, fitness centers, child care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, and community events – basically, anywhere there are facilitators and participants, anywhere there are people(!)     

Practicing Presence
is the
Seed of Empathy.

Compassion
Practicing Presence within community requires a certain amount of non-reactivity.  Being able to notice and observe our own emotions allows for a space between what activates us (or triggers us) and our next thought, word, or action. The space allows us to respond skillfully rather than react choicelessly.  It also creates pathways to take care of our own needs in the moment.  This practicing awareness of our emotional process gives us insight into the experience of others, precisely because all of us are human. Happily, that new information we gain inside that moment of presence increases the likelihood that we can, and will, envision ourselves in someone else’s situation. 

These are the seeds of empathy.

Teamwork

Empathy leads to another key aspect of mindful awareness, the active partner of non-judgement:  compassion.  What’s great about compassion is that it’s for everyone, including yourself, and it can really help guide challenging conversations and all manner of interactions. 

Compassion allows us to see our life-partner, who is “letting the housework go” and seemingly choosing to not asking us about our day or our needs, as a beautiful human being who is fatigued and out of resources – not just someone who doesn’t care.  Compassion also allows us to see the student melting down in front of us as another human, just like us, in need of support.   Compassion can even bring us to a new perspective on the behaviors of our co-workers, family and community members, as well as complete strangers (and even people we might classify as the manifestation of enmity and animus – our enemy). 

Everyone is a human being – just like us. This fact is an excellent reminder that, perhaps most amazingly, self-compassion allows us to see our own selves as deserving of gentleness, acceptance, and encouragement, too ~the hallmarks of empathy.  

SPACE
We experience emotions on a broad spectrum.  There’s a wide range of ways we can know anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and enjoyment.  And knowing that the initial emotional reaction only lasts 30 -90 seconds, it benefits us to wait it out, seeing if it subsides or changes before we say the thing we really want to say (that thing we feel absolutely justified in saying).  The magic in this moment is patience. And one support for practicing patience is to go ahead do something.

Teamwork

Here’s an embodiment practice for that. I call it SPACE because I love talking about, thinking about, and accessing spaciousness as a pathway to loving and being loved.  It’s a way of being present in my body that allows me both to notice and observe my emotions, as well as wait for them to change or subside before I choose my next thought, word, or action.

  • S – settle
  • P – pause
  • A – abide
  • C – center
  • E – expand

Basically, SPACE creates space.  And space allows for compassion. 

First, I settle into my body by feeling my feet and noticing gravity. 
I pause and breathe. 
I abide in the present moment. (Rest.)
I find my center.
And then I expand from there – breathing in and growing my ribcage in all directions. 

By expanding, I’m creating physical space inside my body, bringing about sensations associated with happiness, freedom, and joy.  I’m also creating intangible space between what is said and done, and what is understood and experienced.  No one knows I’m doing this.  I can settle, pause, abide, center, and expand while I am listening to another person speak or while I’m experiencing their actions.  This embodied work allows me to feel grounded and gives me the space to choose what I will say and do, as well as what I will not say and what I won’t do.  

Spaciousness

KEEPING ON

Continue practicing awareness. 
Keep non-reactively observing. 
Carry on with feeling your body and making space. 

If nothing else, the next time you notice a strong emotional reaction, let that be your cue to press and settle into your feet and expand from your center.  The breath will happen.  You will pause and abide, and you just might find yourself and others surrounded by the spaciousness of compassion. 

Your Practice

While you are moving through your unique morning ritual, practicing asana, concentration, or meditation, consider practicing spaciousness:

  • Settle into your body by feeling your feet and noticing gravity
  • Pause and breathe
  • Abide in the present moment
  • Center yourself
  • Expand and grow your spacious heart

Then, take this wisdom with you, out of your practice space and into the world!

(You don’t have to have a ritual that seems fancy or mysterious. Rituals can be practical! You can practice SPACE quite effectively, and beautifully, while you are brushing your teeth or enjoying a shower.)

With Love, Empathy, Compassion, & All Things Spacious

Amy

Universal Yogi

Photo by Diego Madrigal on Pexels.com

Photos credits: Photo by Maria Lindsey Content Creator on Pexels.com, Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com, Photo by Kevin Blanzy on Pexels.com

Honoring & Releasing

Hello, Yoga Friends, Happy today!

Here’s an offering of practices for you.

This class is Yoga for Body-Mind & Heart: Practices for Honoring & Releasing. It was inspired by my teacher, and begins with seated centering, followed by a meditation of honoring and releasing. And then gentle moving, stretching, and opening the front body using the floor as a yoga prop.

Gather some pillows, blankets, or towels and a yoga strap or scarf. These items are not necessary but might make things feel more supportive.

To the casual observers, it might look like we’re just rolling around on the ground, but we’ll know the good playwork taking place. Expect opportunities to stretch the shoulders, chest, hips, abdomen, back, & sides. When you feel like something’s missing. Just add it in!

May you be covered in the blessings you most need right now,

Amy

The Universal Yogi