“As you get older, you are more set in your ways and harder to be in a relationship with” I’ve heard many people utter. Perhaps this is true for some. But I started to think about the WHYs. Why do we say that? When we say it, do we say it because someone stated this as a truth we accepted, or do we truly believe it, or is it an actual truth and if so, why is that our truth? And if we accept this as a truth when we’re in our 20s or 30s or 40s, do we take it on and manifest this rigidity unconsciously? Where does this rigidity come from? And perhaps more importantly, are we fully aware of it?
During this contemplation, I chose to reflect on my own experience of rigidity. In my journey thus far, I’ve observed great changes in my body – normal weight, overweight, underweight, overweight, normal weight – sort of in that order. I firmly believe that the changes in my body reflected the status of my inner world, and of course my family, friends and coworkers easily observed the physical changes. However, what no one could fully perceive was the lack of flexibility, or the energetic heaviness of the rigidity and stiffness in my mind and spirit, which was reflected in my body, but only fully experienced and felt by me. Of course, I also created it. I created it with my thoughts, choices, words, what I chose to do and not do. When I look back on those spaces in my life, I realize that I was not allowing the natural flow of my being to navigate the spaces I needed to manoeuvre, or make choices which served me, or even think thoughts which were of my own contemplation and discernment. Instead, I was either fighting my true self in order to conform to, or ignoring my intuition and rebelling against, something that was set out as ‘right’ by society or my family and culture. That constant push and pull, building walls, crossing lines, running away, keeping busy for distraction, created an emotional, spiritual, and mental paralysis in the extremes, was reflected in my body. Physical pain, stiffness, rigidity/lack of flexibility, tightness, being blocked, congested, and isolated from the enjoyment of life and others, were my personal experiences in my body as a reflection of my inner world. I found glimpses of joy and beauty and even calm during this experience but they were just that – glimpses. I did not know how to fully engage in anything other than the stagnant state of being I had experienced up to that point. It was not until perhaps a few years ago, when I finally began to open up and allow the natural flow of my being, my intuition and spirit to guide my healing, that I began to experience joy, beauty and calm more fully and consistently. But I do not consider my experience to be unique or isolated.
Since I was a child, I’ve been an observer of everything and everyone around me. This served me greatly when I began a daily meditative practice over a year ago, for meditation is a space of observation of our inner world, of the status of our soul, our mind, our heart, which we enter at that moment in time. Having worked in healthcare for almost a decade now, I’ve interacted with many human beings and I’ve observed some things which I am not intending to use as examples to generalize anyone’s life or existence, but rather as patterns I’ve observed some humans engage in.
I’ve observed that as we get older, some of us take on things we accepted to be true in the early years of our life and development, which restrict our flow. We don’t question things our child or teenage or 20-something-year-old self accepted to be true, though our experiences and observations thereafter suggest otherwise. For example, as a child, the experience of my parents suggested that relationships must have the experience of X, Y, and Z, and they must lead to A, B, and C, in order to be ‘real’ relationships. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that that experience of relationships may have been true for my parents but that is not necessarily a reflection of the flow of a relationship that may serve me. Often, in conversation, people will reveal that their ideal relationship is that of their parents or grandparents or a couple they saw in a movie or met when they were on vacation, and that they are working towards having a relationship like that, but they don’t actually take the time to figure our what best serves them as an individual. And I’ve observed, myself and others, to be addicted to relationships in search of the IDEAL we decided on when we were 12 or something, as the experience we want to have, rather than being present and discerning, in the experience that we are actually having. I’m not saying that in every case the relationship that we decided is our ideal does not serve us. I’m just saying that we didn’t take the time to figure out for ourselves why it does (or doesn’t). As a result, many of us find ourselves somehow ‘stuck’ in a relationship or friendship where we aren’t able to grow or learn or be ourselves fully and completely. And we project the rigidity we experience in that friendship or relationship, onto others or it gets extended in our habits, schedules, rituals…‘the way that things MUST be’, rather than allowing.
I’ve also come to understand that EVERYTHING is in constant flux and motion so much so that we change every day, yet we stick with things we decided we liked when we were kids. For example, we may have decided when we were five that our favourite colour is red and as adults have maintained this without exploring the experience of other colours – whether in the decor we chose for our homes, our clothing, our art etc. – and because we immersed ourselves in that one colour our entire life, the lack of exploration of the energetic quality of another colour is simply lost on us. Perhaps the calming quality of the colour blue would really serve us in the space we are presently exploring, but we don’t allow it to become a part of our experience because when we were five, we decided that red is our favourite colour and the only colour we want around. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with red, I’m just saying that there are so many other colours we have the privilege of experiencing, yet we decided when we were five that for the next 75/80/95 years, we are going to stick to red and only red without asking why. We also may have decided that we only like one type of music, and we only listen to that genre and never explore others, thereby limiting our music experience for our entire life. Though there is something beautiful to be found in stimulation of every one of our senses, I’m not saying that we are going to love all colours or all genres of music but that there is value in allowing ourselves to explore.
It has become apparent to me that our inner world is also constantly changing. Think about how differently you feel each morning you wake up. Some days you wake up feeling energised and ready to take on anything that may cross your path, and other days you just want to stay in bed and not talk to anyone. Yet most often, we ignore how we feel and push through our day without acknowledgment of where we are, of how we feel, or of what we need in order to find our centre and balance. What serves us most may be finding the stillness, movement or flow to navigate the newness without judgement or imposing boundaries we fought against or accepted when we were younger. For example, maybe when we were younger we decided that our discomfort gives us permission for everyone else to experience it and project our own emotional states on others (think of a toddler in the grocery story isle having a meltdown because their parent is not giving into their ice cream request), rather than being accountable for the understanding of why we feel/think/act the way we do at this moment in time. After all, it is our own personal experience so only we can answer our own why, and finding our centre in the spaces of meditation, yoga, reflection, contemplation, creative or other practices, may be ways that can help guide our inner exploration. When I was in high school, I remember going to school while having a temper tantrum which had nothing to do with anyone but me, but I had decided that it was acceptable for me to act out and take it out on others for months until someone told me that my behaviour was unacceptable. I was projecting the discomfort of my inner world outwards, however, not only did it not calm my inner, it also created chaos in my experience of friendships. It is not anyone else’s responsibility to sort through or experience the discomfort we may be feeling but our own. And at some point, we have to get comfortable in being uncomfortable in order to grow, learn and elevate.
In my healthcare practice, I’ve dealt with adults of different age groups and I have observed that age does not play into how difficult it is for me to navigate the unfamiliar space the patient is about to experience. I’ve interacted with 20 year olds who are more set in their ways and stubborn in what they feel they should receive from me, than some of the 90 year olds I’ve interacted with. I truly believe that getting older does not mean we become more difficult to be around or set in our ways, but that it is a choice. And I think that choice is as much a reflection of what we have accepted to be true, what we have decided we should experience or how we should experience something, than it is of the reality of our actual experiences. It is true that we are born with things or born into situations we did not choose, but no matter what, as an adult, we have a choice in what we carry, how we perceive, react, act, think, speak.
I believe that the experience of our body and the state of our physical world, which we can perceive by the limitations of our five physical senses, is a reflection of our inner, spiritual and mental state. I believe that the interconnectedness of mind, body, spirit is a reflection of the interconnectedness of all things in the universe and across universes, for what’s in the one is in the whole and all things in our universe abide by the same laws (of physics, mathematics, energy, quantum mechanics, balance, reciprocity etc.) the universe itself abides by, and the same laws the atoms which make up our cells and our bodies abide by. Each entity/thing/being/energy is not separate from another. Specifically for human beings, there is a continuous flow of creation as a response to a thought, a choice, an emotion, an action or a lack thereof, which is being directed by each and every one of us. And those choices can further support or hinder our own flow.
What supports your flow?
What hinders your flow?
Be kind to yourself and others.