Follow the flow.
Although a simple principle, following the flow of life can be extremely difficult.
I'm sure you have heard it a million times, and still found it difficult to do. Me telling you isn't going to make it any easier, either.
Nonetheless, it's still one of the few principles in self-discovery that actually works, so when someone tells you to “follow the flow”, it makes sense listening to it.
It helps, though, to understand why this specific piece of advice is so hard to turn into reality.
To do that, let's look at the philosophy most connected to the principle of flow.
I am referring to Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosophy allegedly formulated by Lao-Tzu in 500 B.C. in the book, Tao Te Ching.
It's based on the concept of Tao, which is a cosmic force that flows through all things and binds them together, even when separated.
According to Taoism, the key to life is to always go with the natural flow of this cosmic force, since it's how life manifests itself.
Going against it will only lead to suffering, which again will lead to disillusion and destruction.
In other words, life will give you friction unless you go with the natural flow of life, called Tao, and ultimately unite with it.
Yin and Yang
The question is, how do you do it?
How do you find the way (Tao means way), and why is it so difficult without experiencing friction?
To help us understand that, Taoism gives us the concept of Yin and Yang – the dualities of life. They are a result of the Tao splitting itself into two opposite parts.
The only way they can come together again is through a constant interplay to create perfect balance, and in doing so, they unite with their source, the Tao.
In Taoism, this is the process we experience as life, so when we have friction in it, it's because we are not balancing the Yin and the Yang properly.
Flow comes from balance
To put in another way, flow arises as a natural consequence of balancing the dualities of life.
Meaning, that if you put your mind to just one end of the spectrum, you will never experience flow.
The opposite of your focus will always present itself as a natural way for you to balance the two.
As an example, it's what happens when you focus entirely on happiness. It's only a matter of time before you start feeling miserable.
Or, transversely, when going deep into your pain, you will start to experience a release of it.
That doesn't mean you should just maintain focus on the negative to achieve the positive.
It's never either-or, but always both. You want your mind to be present in both dualities at the same time in equal proportions.
The key is a constant and dynamic interplay between them with both your mind, energy, and body.
That's how you balance them – and follow the flow.