When we live moment by moment we naturally notice that life is a constant flow. Everything is flowing, changing, moving, touching and … gone, whether we like it or not.
How do we relate to this flow? How do we move within it? How are we part of it? And how consciously are we affecting the flow of the river that is us? At times it might seem as if there is no way we can influence this, there is no choice. At other times we are suffering from the many decisions we have to make during a single day. In some way we can’t affect anything and yet seen from another angle we are affecting everything. Sometimes we might feel like swimming against the stream and at other times it feels like we are following the progression of things with great ease.
When I was a young student a professor told the story of a frog who lived in a tiny pond. He was one of only a few frogs there and they were too many for the food available. The frog had a dream of an ocean, a body of water that had no end. He asked the other frogs if they knew where that ocean was and they laughed at him. So he left and went to find it. After not too long he arrived at a little creek where a bunch of frogs where playing in the currents and catching flies. He asked them about the ocean and they thought he meant their little creek. The creek was the only thing they knew, and they also knew that the creek was tricky and could carry them away in its current if they weren’t careful. None of the frogs that had lost their balance and were carried away had ever come back. This was just what our frog was waiting for. He jumped in and let himself be carried until he found bigger and bigger bodies of water, letting himself be carried further and further until he finally arrived at the ocean.
This story inspired me quite a bit. I thought about all the information, all the science I’d learned, bigger and bigger bodies of water but that hadn’t yet carried me to the ocean of truth. Also I understood that essentially, no one I could learn from knew the final truth. We all only know what we have learned so far, and we can decide to learn and grow from where we are, or not.
After I heard that story I got curious about my next steps. I did not feel anymore that life is determined, but that it can be a flow of finding out more and more. I learned to travel this adventure according to my own abilities and kept my natural curiosity alive.
I felt the need for safety, friends, familiar places and a home. Rather than towards inner needing, wanting, or fearing, I found my mind turning towards the many moments happening in my outer environment. I found that each moment held a lot of beautiful things that I wouldn’t have seen if I remained only within my idea and plan for the day. I also found that in the river of the many moments and experiences there can be islands of stillness, longer times of continuity and stability. I learned to love those as well.
In practicing meditation we can connect with this flow. We can notice the breath and the minutes moving by and we can again and again find stability in this constant change. This brings us closer to the reality of our lives. If we look back on our lives we can see how this river of our life came to be. If we look into our vision of the future we can see how we wish (or fear) it might continue. If we look into our reality right now we can see where we are between all the large and small events, people, and places in our life.
Finding relative stability in this flow can be a life-changing experience. Without even speaking about the idea of finding absolute stability, we can sense something in the present moment that is stable, even while the flow continues. We can sense our breath, we can feel how our body touches the ground, the air, our food… This relative stability is available in every moment, no matter where we are and what we are experiencing. Living within the truth of the river that our life is can allow us to experience and love the flow instead of fearing it. It can allow us to relate to and grow with our experiences in a more conscious way. This again can determine how far we’d like to move on towards the vast ocean of absolute truth.
With a trained mind we can find our home within the movements of the river.
Enjoy the flow,
(Photos Toni Sager)