Flow and the Art of Meeting Barriers

Lately I’ve been inspired to work with the focus of Flow.

Flow is so directly associated with water, fluidity, adaptability, breath, cleansing, and an ushering out of the old and in with the new. Flow creates continual renewal by respecting that nothing stays the same–there is a natural “current of change” that is an essential part of life.

What I discussed with my class on Saturday morning was the analogy of the body as a stream. Mountain streams are an exquisite example of flow because the downward motion caused by both the angle of the ground and gravity ensures that so long as there is water, movement will happen. At any given point, a giant boulder or tree trunk can abruptly fall into the stream, temporarily changing the course of it’s flow. Yet what does the water do? The water meets the barrier, then flows over or around it. Water does not stop and demand that the barrier moves, nor does it pretend the barrier does not exist; It just finds another way to do what it is inherently designed to do: flow.

Meeting the barrier, in a more transpersonal kind of way, means staying in the flow of life, taking in information, and even harvesting wisdom from the obstacles that I encounter. It’s the difference between playing Aikido or Tae Kwon Do with a barrier. The flow of Aikido creates a harmony that allows both myself and the barrier to be what we are without having to compete. By choosing to meet it, I get to dance with it, learn from it, receive insight, and go on my merry way.

Bringing this concept back to the body, when we discover a barrier–such as pain, tension, or injury- we are faced with an important choice: Will we “meet” the barrier, choose to fight against it, or just plain ignore it?

Interestingly enough, much new research on the science of connective tissue shows that one of the best techniques for relieving pain is not to “land” directly on the epicenter of the pain–what MELT Creator Sue Hitzmann calls the “victim”–but rather to meet the barrier by investigating and stimulating the tissue around the painful area. If we looked at a picture of a bull’s eye target, this would mean hanging out toward the outer rings of the circle rather than going straight for the red target. Applying light tension and compression in this way, we can create a fluid exchange that hydrates the connective tissue around the painful area without ever having to cause additional pain. Increased hydration, in turn, can reduce pain and create healing.

Water has flow and so do we. Barriers in the body and life are inevitable. Sometimes barriers are so big they feel like cement walls that are fifty feet high, insurmountable. Yet by focusing on flow, I look to my right or left, and what I discover are 50,000 ways to move with a given obstacle, rather than against it.

Barriers feel fixed; I am filled with flow. By connecting to this sensation, my choices expand and, just like a mountain stream, my vital life force energy is free to flow in the direction it’s destined.

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3 thoughts on “Flow and the Art of Meeting Barriers

  1. Hi Al,

    This is beautiful. I’ve starting facilitating Kai classes which deal with the elements of nature. You speak so poetically in this blog about the flow of water…thank you!

    Jill Campana

  2. Thank you Al! I actually can now imagine my Flow. I like the tree and mountain analogy, very visual, which helped put a different spin on “going” with the flow – which sometimes feels abnormal. Visualizing staying in “my Flow” I can overcome all obstacles staying centered like this.

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