Living in the Flow

By being observant of your own emotional life and perhaps getting in touch with your own unconscious, you might become aware of your psychological blockages to experiencing grace and mercy. Try to feel, especially in your body, when you are tight, emotionally stingy, constricted, and in a withholding state—and when you are “in the flow” without any holding back or reserve. If you cannot distinguish between these two inner states in your own self, you may be able to notice them in others. There are numerous nonverbal cues most of us learn to read very early. Even children can sense the difference between cold and warm people.

The cold person lives from a place of scarcity, invariably protecting and defending what little they think they have or are. A person in the flow neither protects nor guards their inner source, vitality, or emotions—any more than necessary to maintain a needed sense of identity. You can tell when someone is in the flow, when they trust that their very life is given freely; you may see it in their smile.

The natural flow of grace is largely impossible when we are “sucking in”—when we’re stingy, petty, blaming, angry, playing the victim, or in any way offended. When we’re recounting what people did to us or what they did not do for us, we’re pulling back and sucking in. We need to notice when we’re in this constrictive state right away before it takes hold of us.

I believe that’s what morning prayer is for: to bring me back in alignment with the Divine Flow so the Infinite Source can once again flow into me and through me. Great love, great suffering, and some form of contemplative practice are the usual paths that help me get my small, false self out of the way and become an open conduit for the gushing stream of water that God always is and that the believer always becomes (see John 7:38). This is the abundant life that Jesus speaks of with so many metaphors and stories (John 10:10).

People often ask how long they should pray. As long as it takes you to get to yes. If your heart and emotions are still saying “No!” to the moment right in front of you, don’t leave your place of prayer until you find “Yes,” until the flow begins to happen and the constriction (which often feels like pettiness) begins to lose its hold on you. Then you’re abiding in a place of abundance where you know there’s more than enough of you left over, and you don’t need to be stingy, guarded, or hold on to even minor grudges. You can let a quiet love flow; you can let grace happen—to you and through you—toward all the world around you.