I was in a very hot Switzerland recently and being land locked the Swiss make the most of their lakes and rivers. They even swim in the Rhine along with all those huge boats! Instead of complaining that they have no seaside they simply use what they do have and everyday, past our office, people are either in little boats, floats or simply swimming downstream. For the energetic ones they swim upstream – it is like having one of those machines that you get in swimming pools to swim against – except this is the natural version. It is one of the most fun things to swim in the river and be taken by the current – a lesson in letting go.
Lessons from the River
I went with some friends on a three-hour river float. We got our oversized rubber rings, dropped the car off down stream and then drove back and launched ourselves three hours upstream from the car. Up until that weekend I had only ever swum in the lake or the river, never done a long float, and this river was a fast flowing river – and it had rapids! (not as in white water rafting rapids I hasten to add!) As we turned the first corner there was the white water churned up by the rocks below and for a moment I felt a frisson of fear. But we were moving so fast I did not have time to do anything but go with the flow and relax and let the river take me through.
Once you let go and let the river take you the fun kicks in
As soon as we entered the rapids it was such fun, like a fair ground ride and we were all laughing out loud. We carried on down the river, some sections were slower and more gentle, others were fast and again we encountered more rapids. What we learnt was that even though the river was taking us downstream we could actually paddle and control our passage to some extent. Sure we had to always keep on going forward, no point paddling upstream, but we could pick our passage and avoid the few rocks that were near the surface.
As we went downstream the front floater would point out hidden rocks and we would navigate our way around them and we continued like this for three hours. It was such fun, and taught me a lot about going with the flow and letting go.
Many people I speak with have been experiencing some kind of challenge around letting go. Letting go of expectation, letting go of outcomes, letting go of an image of themselves, letting go of doing things in a certain way or like myself, letting go of being the doer. So as I contemplated my float down the river I began to see that it had some valuable lessons about letting go.
Lessons from the river
1. There is simply no point in paddling upstream, fighting with ‘what is’. It gets us nowhere and is simply exhausting. Instead save your energy for when you need it.
For example when we were approaching the rapids we needed to position ourselves, that was the time to expend our energy and give ourselves the best possible ride through the rapids. However even in that situation there was a letting go too, once we had done all that we could we had to simply let the river do the rest. How often in life do we try to over control the outcome rather than trust that all the effort we have put in has positioned us in the best possible place. In the Passion Test we talk about Intention, Attention and No Tension. Intention as in deciding which part of the river we want to be in, Attention – paddling to get there, and No Tension as in trusting that we have done enough and the river will take us through the best route. How often do we forget the No Tension part of life?
2. it was useful to have a front runner, someone who has been there before you – the first one of our group pointed out any rocks under the surface so we could navigate our way safely down the river. This ‘front runner’ changed and we all played that role for each other. It made our journey so much easier and showed how important it is to have others on the journey with you. Identify your front-runner – someone who either knows the way or can help you see your way.
3. Don’t try to hold onto the side and stop the flow – you won’t be able to and even if you do catch a branch it will probably hurt you. Before you get into the river it looks scary as it is flowing so fast but once you are in it you are traveling at the same pace as the river and so you can relax and enjoy the ride. Even in the rapids we learnt that they might look like a rough ride but in fact they were fun to go through. Things are not always what they look like.
Whatever is happening in your life if you try to hold onto the side it will hurt, so instead trust yourself and the river and go with it. When you do that you become one with life and you will navigate it with so much more ease. It is only the ego which wants to grab back control – the inner you, that part of you that is unchanging loves being in the flow of life, so tap into that part of you and enjoy the ride.
Do you have any questions or comments about the river of life? If so I’d love to hear from you. And if you feel you need some navigational tools to find your best route in your river then definitely let’s have a Discovery Session to see how I can be of support to you. Do drop me line or give me a call on +44 (0) 203 239 6155
What is your life showing you right now? Maybe this has resonated with you, or maybe you are wondering about things that are happening right now in your life. If you feel you’d like some help deciphering your life’s journey then let’s have a chat. You can email me or give me a call on +44 (0)751 891 4604