Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finding and Riding the Flow of Life

Relaxing into my first soak in the storied hot baths at Esalen and I heard a cry out from a young woman surrounded by several naked soakers.  She said, “What does your tattoo mean?”  I explained and she said, "Oh yes.  I too am a follower of that.”  A few minutes passed while I gazed out to the undulating Pacific Ocean and its forest of underwater kelp.  Then a different young woman says that she too was a student of that certain spiritual philosophy.  A lively and animated conversation developed and before I knew it she was suggesting a visit to a restaurant where she works in Berkeley.   My response, "of course" (while in my usual indecisive, non-committal mind I was thinking maybe). 

Downtown Berkeley BART station
Energized and clear after a week at Esalen, I drove to Berkeley and planned to spend one night.  The next day I went to the Café Gratitude where the young woman in the tub worked.  My friend on this ride was challenging, "Why do you want to go there?  Are you hitting on that girl?”  In my mind there was no further thought than to continue a positive connection begun in the baths.  The Café Gratitude is part of a chain of seven which has a serious commitment to supporting positive and healthy living through affirmations on the walls and menus and fully,organic vegan food.  The food was excellent and the vibe even better.  Well worth following the ‘sign’ from the tubs.  Later that day after meeting some Berkeley friends for drinks, we were debating where to go:  San Francisco or Berkeley?  Standing at the BART station we were about to drop into a familiar pattern of manly men:  whose will shall prevail?  Appearing out of the dusk was the young lady from Esalen and the café, and she was on her way to San Francisco to do an art performance.  Seizing this clear direction, we went and had an exciting and fun time in the Mission District and its nouveau hip ambience and later at North Beach and its mix of strip clubs and post-beatniks.  City Lights Bookstore still serves up a healthy dose of authentic paper books of poets and other counter-culturalists.    While the “Hungry I” on the other hand paraded a string of luscious young ladies in skimpy attire and big smiles.  Both were satisfying.

illustrating the famous scarab 
Noting and responding to such 'coincidences' is a long standing practice of mine.  The undeniable existence of such correspondence is now called synchronicity.  It is a term coined by one of the two towering (along with Freud) figures of psychology in the 20th Century, Carl J. Jung (Swiss 1875-1961).  Jung’s investigations into the occult and Eastern thought led him to develop the outlines of a theory of acausal connectivity.  In his framework, connections between places, things, and people may be non-linear or acausal.  Their relationships may be understood as parts of a field as opposed to a linear cause and effect.  It is relationships in the web that we experience in those moments of (in Jung’s definition) ‘meaningful coincidence.’  We have all had them; the phone call from someone just after we thought of that person or the sense of deja’ vu of some place we have never been.  Accessing and using this field is alien to most trained in the Western mind set of scientific Newtonian/ Cartesian thought.  Lines and edges of analytic thinking were softened a bit by the communality of Esalen.  Trusting and tapping into this field can rewarded me with serendipitous experiences and less stressful decisions.  I was ready to see the synchronicities that happen in daily life.   

Seeing the flow of life and surrendering to its clear messages is my new growth edge.  I am not naturally intuitive and my tendency is to analyze an issue, then do a cost benefit analysis, and flip a coin and then begin the process all over, with doubt and remorse.  Needless to say this approach can be time consuming, may not lead to the best outcomes, and encourages second thoughts.  Fed up with analysis paralysis, I resolved to note the signs, feelings, omens, and then as Nike used to say, “Just Do It.”  Each day offers clues to the natural flow and trusting in that direction makes life so much easier.  The next day for the first time in forty years of traveling, the hotel was booked for that night and we had to leave.  Nearby hotels were booked or exorbitant.  With ease and minimal analysis, I said it was time to leave to my rolling partner and he protested, “How come, you are too easily swayed.”  I know me and my stubbornness and my strength was to trust my guidance.  We left town and that felt right on time. 

Finally, to naysayers of trusting the flow:  You are the one who gives it meaning and it would not have occurred to you, if it weren’t coming from your deeper, sub-conscious self. 
Next in this series:  Honing your skills of perception and alignment.

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