Flowing Around Obstacles

When I was working at the University, I would teach safety to each of the undergrad classes.

For me, part of teaching safety was helping the students find a mental space where they could act in a safe way in the lab.

Every time that I made a serious mistake, or I was hurt at work, it was when I felt time pressure, that my emotions were high, that I was rushing.

I talked about a few tactics to help with reducing the tendency to rush, including the importance of proper preparation and planning. Even as the people running the lab, proper preparation and scheduling during the lab turned a 4 hour marathon into a much more manageable 2.5 hour run. Having all of the participants also being prepared would only help this further.

Perhaps knowing that not all students would have prepared for all of the labs they would encounter, I also talked about general tactics for dealing with strong emotions in a setting where they could prove dangerous. Interestingly, looking back, it shares a lot in common with how I now think about meditation[1].

I would tell that what I did when I wanted to deal with strong emotion in a setting where that was not useful was to take all of the emotion in, to experience it fully, and then let it go[2].

I internally sometimes use the analogy of “water off a duck’s back”, but I think a far more apt analogy is how a cat feels when you accidentally do something to it. It feels the emotions immediately, reacts, and then goes back to sleeping or cleaning itself, or whatever else it was doing.

Fully experience the emotion, then let it go.

This brings me to the title of this post, ‘Flowing around obstactles’.

Last time, I wrote about writer’s block and the obstacles of tiredness and the fear of not doing justice to the topics that speak to you the most.

I talked about flow, the idea that you know that the obstacles are there, but you aren’t letting them affect you emotionally. It’s not a rigid or brittle ‘not letting’, more of a ‘letting them flow around you’.

Growing up, I focused on the concept of “don’t let it affect you”, which is effective at pushing things aside and allowing you to focus on the thing in front of you, but it isn’t very helpful at helping you to determine exactly what should be the thing in front of you.

More recently, with my life coach, we worked on relaxing into working through obstacles[3].

This feels similar to letting emotions flow into, around, then out of you.

You acknowledge them, but they seem to have no power over you. You have your essential self that you have found parts of and are piecing together, and the obstacles are of no moment, and you can flow around them, or they flow around you.

It’s not that the obstacles disappear, or are non-existent. It’s not that they don’t matter emotionally. You can see that you have emotions about them, but you can flow through that to the state where you can focus on solving the problem. It’s similar to understanding how your emotions or hackles can be raised in a situation, but it has nothing to do with the person in front of you[4]. You notice this, you flow around and through the emotions, you find the root cause, and you solve the problem.

Good examples escape me right now, but I think you get the idea. Either way, comment below!

Next time, we’ll talk about forgiveness and the essential self. Stay tuned!

[1]And the Flame and the Void, which some people have tried in real life, with interesting results.

[2]Experienced readers will note that this is an interesting counterpoint to how I was raised, which was to ‘not let it affect you’, with subtle but important differences.

[3]Somewhat similar to re-incorporating your shadow, relaxing, and becoming more whole.

[4]It’s probably the patriarchy.

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