How to Let Things Go with a Metaphor for Flow


Learning how to let things go is aided by entering a flow. When things change ... when one thing flows into another ... we do well to change and flow too. Trying to hold on to the past in the face of future change puts us in a precarious position. We become frozen, immobilized. We fall out of sync with life. Learning how to let go and flow helps us regain our footing. This living metaphor can help to flow and let go ...

The River of Life and Obstacles In The Way

The flow of life can be likened to the flow of a river. The flow of water in a river and the flow of energy in life have a lot in common.

How is a river shaped? It is shaped by the 'obstacles' it encounters along the way. Meeting an obstacle, the flowing water changes direction to flow around it. Thanks to obstacle after obstacle the form of the river takes shape.

So it is with our lives as we become better at learning how to let things go.

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Changing with Change

Throw a boulder into a river and what happens? Without missing a beat, the water changes directions and flows around it. This is the secret of flow - the secret of changing with change. If the boulder is large enough, the trajectory of an entire river may be altered to accommodate it. 

The water is never hurt by the boulder that hits it, no matter how large or menacing the boulder may appear to be. The flexibility of the river is so complete that it seamlessly assimilates the obstacle. The boulder becomes an inseparable part of the river itself - a partner in its shaping.

The water and river are masters of survival thanks to their adaptability - thanks to their willingness to flow and change. They are exemplars of changing with change.

What happens when the river freezes? What happens when the river is no longer able to flow? What happens to us when we simply hold on and refuse to let go?

Is It Strong to Hold On?

What happens when a boulder hits the icy surface of a frozen river? The ice shatters. The bigger the boulder, the greater the damage.

As is with the river of life, so it is with us.

The tighter we hold on ... whether it's to an unhealthy relationship, internal negativity or a past long gone ... we become increasingly brittle - not strong. Instead of flowing around the rocks of life, we splinter and shatter.

Letting go requires a flowing mind.

When our adaptability is lost ... when our flowing mind freezes over... we become vulnerable. Ice is hard and rigid, yet it doesn't offer us the kind of protection that flowing water can provide.

So how do we develop and maintain flexibility for change? How do we let go of the old and let in the new? How do we learn to let things go and flow?

Get the Rain to Fall ...

The flow of a river is kept strong through plentiful rainfall and a hot climate. No rain spells dry river beds; and cold weather spells frozen ones.

How can we create an equivalent environment that would be conducive to a flowing, rather than a rigid, mind? What is the mind equivalent of plentiful rainfall and a warm climate?

Rain is a source of renewal. It's main function is to replenish.

If our energy is running low we won't have the vitality necessary for flow.

Like priming a mouse trap - we need to invest energy to charge the spring. Once this energy is released, the trap snaps shut. So it is with our mind. Maintaining an open, flowing mind requires energy. When this energy is depleted, the mind clamps shut.

Instead of teaches ourselves how to let things go and release, we end up clinging and holding on.

If our energies are being depleted through fear, worry, anger, over-thinking or pushing ourselves too hard, we need to find equally powerful sources of renewal to replenish our vitality. Once again, we'll be primed to let go and flow.

Regular exercise, relaxation, giving yourself some solitude and spending time in nature provide some excellent choices. Meditation and other mind-body disciplines are powerful ways to release and recharge as well. 

The first thing that happens as we engage in any of the activities above is that we stop worrying about how to let things go. Once we stop trying to let go, we free ourselves to actually do it. With the restoration of energy and vitality, letting go happens.

So we've covered the rainfall. Now how about a warm climate? How do we bring a warm climate to the mind?

... And Turn Up the Heat!

A warm climate for the mind is generated through compassion. Inhospitable thoughts and emotions contribute to cold inner weather. Continually being hard on ourselves and/or on others is simply not helpful.

Exposing the river to the radiant warmth of the sun encourages its flow. Bringing the heartfelt warmth of compassion to the mind has the same powerful effects. Self-care and self-love are essential ingredients not only to a balanced life, but to a sensible one as well.

By bringing heartfelt compassion to the mind, we can mend. Even as the river of the mind freezes over, and the ice shatters on impact with rock, the pieces can be melted back into a flowing whole with the heat of compassion.

How to Let Things Go and Flow

By revitalizing your energies and bringing heartfelt compassion to the mind, you can melt away obstacles to flow. As you do so you'll find yourself being able to increasingly let go. The ultimate self help skill of flow is your worthy goal. Changing your life a day at a time is another way to practice letting go and entering your flow.

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