Posts

Living in the Flow of Life: Connect to Source

Yoga. Dance. Surfing. Diving. Writing. Meditation. Running. Climbing. Swimming. Chanting. Painting. Breathwork. Hiking. While distinct in form, practices like these (and many others!) have one powerful thing in common:  – from the inside-out – with the sensuous, circadian rhythms of life. Flow experiences can catch us at any time, in virtually any environment. Those vibrant moments of connection between the body, spirit and surroundings that bring us into closer communion with Divine. The ultimate high that requires no external substance – only breath, mindful presence, and the free-form flow of energy moving in and through us, reminding us just how thin our skin actually is when we allow our physical selves to exist as vehicles for the alchemy of energetic creation, expression, movement and release vital to our existence, wellbeing and co-evolution as human-animals living this collective life-world, together.

Cover Photo: Jennifer Harter

Flow is a transformative encounter with transcendence, where the perceiving and physical bodies blend into the ether of the natural environment, through the beyond-conscious energetic experience of sensation and absolute presence. Living in flow, as a collective, we become, in the words of David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous, “a community aware of its place in an accompanying cosmos.” While we can’t always plan for the moment when a flow experience will find us, we can cultivate a lifestyle based on free-form experiences that connect us purposefully to an ego-transcending existence, bringing us a little bit closer to living in the flow of life.

Living in a state of flow isn’t rocket science. In fact, once we begin to clear our lives of all the everyday distractions by committing to and crafting our personal practice, we find that experiences of pure presence become almost second-nature, bridging the ethereal sacred with the quotidian mundane by getting out of our own way and letting energy move through us. Living in the flow of life is where we re-connect to the divine magic of Source, manifest in our natural surroundings, our relationships, and in the pure light that burns within each of us. And if we’ve chosen a spiritual path, that’s the sort of Source-connected life we desire to live, am I right?

So how do we get there?

Photo: Michelle Rodriguez

In the rush and hustle of everyday life, devotion to your personal practice as a central part of a flow-based lifestyle might feel like a pipe dream, at best. Sure, you make it to the Vinyasa class at the gym a few times a week, but truth be told, between work commitments, family, travel and a social life, intentional flow experiences often take a backseat. Still, carving out specific time during the day to prioritize your daily practice – whatever that looks like to you – holds a world of benefits for achieving greater peace of mind, managing stress and living more intimately connected to nature, the elements, your inner wisdom and divine purpose on the Planet.

In the words of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience: “It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.” In yogi terms, he’s talking about our commitment to our Sadhana spiritual practice, and the way we live the ethical philosophy of Ishvara Pranidhana, our surrender to the current of life beyond the distractions of the ego. Cultivating a life aligned with practice, purpose and presence, we live more fully in the flow of the more-than-human life-world and the universal cosmos of which we are an integral part.

So how can you bring more flow into the work of art that is your life? As someone who has crafted a personal and professional lifestyle around a purpose-driven commitment to the movement and flow experiences of surfing, yoga, writing and dance, I offer these practical steps to support you along this journey of great freedom, discipline, trust, discernment and deep surrender.

Four Steps for Living in the Flow of Life

Step 1: Identify the practices that pique your interest and connect you mindfully to a state of flow. For those of us choosing a yoga-based spiritual path of connection, liberation and evolution, it’s important to cultivate a Sadhana practice based on the free-form experiences that speak most powerfully to who we are. Experimenting with different styles of yoga, nature-based activities, meditation techniques, breathwork, journaling and movement modalities can help narrow down the world of flow-based possibilities to the experiences that resonate most deeply. Keeping an open mind as we differently navigate our senses, states of consciousness and energetic expressions is a practice of surrender in itself, trusting our body and spirit to connect with the flow-based practices that will best support us in shedding the sticky parts of our ego-conditioned selves, opening space for both subtle and powerful energies to move in and through us. Once you know what resonates with you, choose one practice and go deep, or compose your personal sadhana by selecting a few.

Step 2: Commit to creating your sadhana and sticking to it. Be realistic! Surrendering to the flow of life in alignment with your spiritual purpose doesn’t mean succumbing to nihilism, apathy or inaction. In fact, committing to your sadhana requires the discipline of a valiant will, drawing from the strength of your solar plexus – the wellspring of vital energy you’re projecting out into the body through your practice, and beyond the self, into the world. Depending on the experiences we choose to incorporate into our flow-based lifestyle, our sadhana might be rigid in daily repetition, or it might look different each day, each week or each month. And we can always remove elements that aren’t working and add others that inspire our curiosity. Sky’s the limit! For example, my practice most days includes an early morning surf, followed by a hatha-based asana flow and 30 minutes of free-form journaling. Lately I’ve incorporated open-ocean swimming and long beach walks a couple of times per week, a morning Kundalini class every Thursday, an ecstatic dance celebration at least two Fridays per month, kirtan whenever possible, and a sweat lodge ceremony at least twice per year. Both discipline and enjoyment keep me in integrity with my sadhana, and when my body is aching for a break, I’ll skip one or two of my regular activities, but not all of them. Writing, for example, is the one everyday practice I’m rigidly disciplined about. Be sure to leave room for rest, and women will want to adjust your practice to attune to the regular changes of your moon cycle, as well. Get creative and stay realistic with your commitments to keep yourself on track. Even twenty minutes per day is an important place to start!

Step 3: Rearrange your life, as much as possible, to prioritize your flow-based practices. For some of us, embracing a flow-based lifestyle might mean quitting our 9-to-5 jobs that don’t align with our sense of purpose or fulfillment in life, so that we can make time for all the things that do. Or it might inspire us simply to trade Saturday nights at the bar for sunrise meditation and an early hike on Sundays. But for most of us, the realignment in our life priorities can be a gradual shift with profound results for our long-term sense of wellbeing. This is the time to take a genuine inventory of the ways we spend our days, who we spend them with, and toward what purpose in life? Surrendering to a flow-based lifestyle can be powerfully transformative to the point that we are willing to be completely honest with ourselves and take full responsibility for the way we wish to show up in our lives. Prioritizing free-form and flow-based experiences is a practice of deep truth in alignment with purpose and an embodied presence of being that requires our deliberate action and intentional awareness each step of the way. As we know, our daily habits become who we are. What are you choosing? What are you ready to replace? What will you prioritize in your life today? What about tomorrow?

Step 4: Embody a flow-based lifestyle. This doesn’t mean selling all your possessions and moving across the world to become a monk. (Though for some of us, it might!) Embodying a flow-based lifestyle is the natural progression of your sadhana becoming the foundation for your life. The more you’re able to clear away life-defeating distractions and prioritize the flow experiences that bring you into communion with Source, the easier it becomes to access a regular state of flow, even in mundane activities like walking the dog, making breakfast or folding the laundry. Engaging with mindful presence in your sadhana practices creates a level of deep awareness with important spillover effects for daily life. The more you endeavor to embody a flow-based lifestyle, the more connected you become to the natural world in your ability to listen intuitively to the signs around you and receive Divine guidance, express and move energy through your body, and live more boldly in a place of truth beyond the ego. Sure, our sadhana takes us on a fast-track to encountering the flow states we desire, but living in the flow of life is more profoundly about connecting the everyday moments we live outside of our practice with the same mindfulness, purpose and presence we cultivate through our intentional flow experiences. And as we change our lives from the inside out – on and off the mat, in the ocean and on the land, dangling from a boulder or digging our hands into the dirt, on the dance floor and in the dreamscape – we recover our essence as an integral part of the more-than-human earth community, an entire life-world bound together in the sacred flow of universal energy and cosmic evolution. We are the dreamers and the dream.

As we step more fully into living in the flow of life, may we endeavor to fulfill the prophetic vision of David Abram, that: “the recuperation of the incarnate, sensorial dimension of experience brings with it a recuperation of the living landscape in which we are corporally embedded…. [A]s we reacquaint ourselves with our breathing bodies, then the perceived world itself begins to shift and transform.”

And so it is.

 

 

Tara Ruttenberg is a writer, surfer, and yogini based in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Tara created Tarantula Surf (www.tarantulasurf.com / @tarantulasurf) as a space for authentic story sharing and engaging with new social living paradigms.

 

 

 

 

 

Join Tara and FLOW This July:

Wake Up & Write!

A Writing Immersion for Planetary Wellbeing in a Changing World

 

 

Strengthen your Core with Power Yoga

To me, yoga isn’t about looking a certain way, getting a better body or being a pose master. Yoga is about reconnecting with your mind, body and soul–and if physical changes accompany that, it’s a bonus. One of those sweet extras is a stronger core. I teach power yoga and practice it religiously. While all yoga practices increase your overall strength, I find power yoga to be especially effective at targeting your middle.

Besides some light ab exercises done during the practice, most of your core-strength building comes from holding poses. Doing isometric exercises is one of the best ways to strengthen your abdominals. Isometricsphoto-3-2 are static exercises or a type of strength training that isolates muscles without movement. Basically, the muscle length and joint angle do not change during contraction. An example of an isometric exercise in power yoga is holding plank for 5 or 10 breaths, while you engage your triceps, core and quads. Conversely, concentric and eccentric exercises involve dynamic movements with a range of motion. Sun Salutations would fall under the dynamic movement category. Power yoga uses isometrics in many postures, especially those that target your core and back. Your flexibility and balance comes from your core, so it’s crucial to condition this part of the body in yoga. To add in a little more try out a hot power yoga class for extra warmth, which helps relax your muscles while releasing toxins from your body.

Sometimes I like to start off my practice with some ab exercises, if my body isn’t already warmed up. Otherwise I’ll teach abs after the igniting, or back bends series. My favourite is to do 100 bicycle crunches or hold Navasana (Boat Pose) for several counts a few times. I’ll also make sure I do some abdominal work if I get the urge to do an inversion like a handstand or headstand. The core is a crucial part of keeping you up in the air, so it’s important to warm it up before you go there. However, the best time to work on your core in yoga is ALL THE TIME! Work on hugging in your lower belly and sucking in your core whether you’re standing in Mountain Pose, lowering down to Chatarunga or lifting up into Wheel. Put your focus on your core, send your breath there and that’s where you’ll build strength and flexibility. Forget the six-yoga-hairpack and go for core strength, full-body flexibility, mental power and spiritual health. That’s a combo yoga has to offer!

Eryl McCaffrey is a Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher from Toronto, Ontario. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Visit her Blog at: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com

Gratefulness- Kṛtajñatā

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day, we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Don’t take your life for granted lovelies! No matter what you are going through, remember there are millions of us who are experiencing either the same or even worse in their life’s right now. Think of a couple of kilometers away from you, there is a child dying because he or she didn’t have enough water to drink during the past days. We on the other hand, move a single finger and have water pouring down on us for hours and hours! Did you have breakfast today, showered and got dressed for work? You’re lucky! Not everyone has that chance. Hardly even proper clothes for their job or even a job at all. You think your job is hard and you don’t like it? That is fine, quit! Do something you really love to do but be happy you ever had a job.

We are all loving humans, no matter how you express your love but do be aware of the things you take for granted. Don’t take you friends for granted, once they’re gone you will notice what you are without them, or the water you can simply buy in a supermarket. Don’t take your body for granted, every step, should be considered. What if, you wake up tomorrow morning and find out you can’t move your legs anymore? What would you give to just have one more day with them and really, really appreciate them? Go for a run, swim or walk through town with them.

So yes, this might sound “dramatic” and maybe you’ll think “I know, I know, I know, I’ve heard it all before” but have you really been aware of it? Have you changed your thoughts towards gratefulness?
Have you woken up one day, looked in the mirror and said one thing every day which you are grateful for…? So, don’t just sit around and think you are grateful. Say it out loud, even if its just to yourself, write it down, make it real!

After reading this, take your note book or a piece of paper and write down 10 things for which you are grateful for. It can be anything at all. Then, keep it somewhere safe and now, every morning you wake up photo-42and step out of your bed, tell yourself one thing which you are grateful for, for this day.

Love & Harmony

 

 

Danae Borsani a German/ Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate blogger (soulseekergirl.com) about what she does best; The Art of Food, Fashion, Travel, and Health. She inspires her readers towards a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.