Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.    ~Lao Tzu

What does it mean to go with the flow? Is going with the flow always a good idea?

I’ve noticed a pattern in the clients I work with as well as in my own life– Many of us are confused with the idea of going with the flow and what that means.

What I’ve come to observe is that there is a difference between going with the “flow” and going with the “Flow.”

Let me explain…

We can look at going with the flow from the perspective of our personalities and relationships and/or we can explore the same idea from the perspective of aligning with the Flow of the universe.

Getting confused between these two very different meanings has a huge impact on how we make decisions and the choices that we make.

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two. I have a sense that I’m not the only one that has struggled with this.

When our personality or ego tells us to go with the flow it’s usually to keep us in our comfort zone and to avoid discomfort or conflict. It is that inner voice that tells us that it’s best to go along to get along.

It comes from the place of not wanting to rock the boat or appear selfish.

If you take a closer look at your motivations it is often associated with avoiding conflict or not wanting to go against the grain. What results is a sense of having lost one’s self.

We may be so outwardly focused on other people’s needs, desires and expectations that we’ve either never established our own or we’ve lost touch with them.

In other words, the message to go with the flow that arises from our conditioned small sense is purely concerned with living a contained, controlled and safe life. And not only does it result in us living a less than fulfilling life- it is often an indication that we are living someone else’s life.

In these situations, we use the idea and resulting action or lack of action of going with the flow as a reason (often we’re not even aware of it) to not take responsibility for our own lives and get clear about what we want or need.

We go with the flow– but if we pay close attention we may notice that it’s someone else’s river that we’re flowing in.

We may still accomplish a lot and not appear to be flowing through life- but we are allowing other people’s agenda’s to dictate our flow.

Going with this type of flow undoubtedly has a person floating in the river wondering, “Who am I separate from my roles? What do I want and need to thrive? Why do I feel a sense of anger or resentment percolating just below the surface?” It often feels like a sense of emptiness and like we’ve lost our voice and sense of our self.

This is a dangerous kind of flow.

We become bystanders in our own life because we’ve bought into the idea that we’re meant to go with the flow. We have spent a lot of time either fitting into the flow of others or watching others lives unfold.

For some people going with the flow is the worst possible thing they can do to thrive in their lives.

For the conflict-avoidant, people-pleasing types their spiritual practice is about being mindful of their intentions behind going with the flow. And not going with the flow is where their growth happens as they connect with who they are at their core.

The other side of the flow coin is when we go with the Flow and the result is getting in synch with the natural intelligence and Flow of the universe. It means understanding and using spiritual laws in our lives to co-create based on the higher needs of our soul.

It is a Flow that arises from becoming intimately aware of who we are at our core and what the universe is asking of us. In this case, it is the universe making the “demands” and not giving in or flowing around other people’s demands, requests or needs.

For many of us, the universe is asking us to overcome our fear and take the risks to grow and evolve. For others, it’s about letting go of the need to try and control everything and everyone.

Just as an acorn is meant to become an oak tree, we are meant to become a certain type of human being. Getting in the Flow allows us to do that.

Going with the Flow is about creating awareness, space, and practices that enable us to tune in to what the messages are and then honoring what we hear.

Honoring what we hear for the benefit of our personal growth often results in being uncomfortable, overcoming fears and making some changes. This is what going with the Flow is about from a spiritual perspective.

Here are a few daily practice tips that may be helpful for tuning in to Flow that nourishes and honors the deeper levels of your soul:

  1. Begin to notice the intentions behind your desire to go with the flow? Remember it’s not what we do that matters, it’s why we do it.
  2. Create a daily habit of communicating with an intelligent life force through prayer or “divine chats.”
  3. Keep a journal and make brief notes about intuitive insights, coincidences, dreams or synchronicities that arise.
  4. Learn to distinguish between thoughts and feelings that arise from your Small Self and your Essential Self.
  5. As part of your daily spiritual practice begin asking: What is my heart’s desire? What inspired action arising from my soul am I meant to take today?

What are your thoughts and experiences of going with the flow?