On New Year's Eve 2009 I boarded a flight to Delhi. I had a plan.
I'd just left a 9-year relationship and had decided that if I didn't want the house, the mortgage, the dog, the 4WD and the white picket fence, then I had to ask myself: What DO I want?
For me the answer was easy. I wanted a spiritual life.
I set off to India and made my way to an ashram in Rishikesh where I spent two months studying yoga, mantra, Ayurveda and the Bhagavad Gita.
Those two months were filled with life changing experiences, many of them small and simple, others vast and wide.
One lesson occurred as I was sitting on the banks of the River Ganges. The river, as you can see in the image above is still as it curls under the Ram Jhula bridge, but by the time it flooded past my ashram it was rapid and forceful.
In that moment I had a realisation.
We are all like Mother Ganga. Our flow shifts from stillness and clarity through to wild and brusque. We are deep and shallow. Light and strong. Whatever we are, we are part of the flow.
Every living moment, we are just like a river. Moving towards a destination.
We might know what that destination is. We could say it's death. But in the moment we are unsure, simply travelling.
On the last day of our yoga teacher training we had to submerge ourselves in the Ganges and drink some of her Holy water.
We had to hold onto a large chain in order not to be swept away downstream.
Holding onto that chain I recall marvelling at the natural power. Mother Ganga looked calm yet she was ferocious. She didn't care if we were ready for her or not. Anyone brave or stupid enough to enter her stream did so at their own risk.
That risk is the risk we take every time we choose to awaken.
Each moment when we pause to reconnect with our Truth we become reunited in a new way with Life's flow.
The rest of the time we are like debris, bobbing along with no awareness.
Lack of awareness leads us into materialism and escapism. We are still in flow but we are no longer connected. We've become separate and lost. We begin to rely on people and things to make us feel whole and loveable.
Reconnecting with the flow brings us back.
And that's a worthwhile endeavour because not only do we feel full again, but being able to surrender to whatever Life throws our way gifts us with resilience and inner strength.
Just like the River, Life will not ask us if we can handle it, it's up to us to understand the currents so we don't unwittingly get swept away. Life won't ask us if we're ready to have cancer or to die. It will just be there.
Being in tune and awake to Life's flow procures us for What May Come.
We might like where we land, or we might resist. We can find ourselves kicking and screaming, retaliating with all our might. Either way, Life carries on. It doesn't need our permission or approval.
Life is whole and full, complete with every experience and emotion imaginable. We too, are full and whole and yet we can often find ourselves small and unsure. We question whether we're on the right path? Have we made the right choices?
These thoughts lead to worry and concern. They require a correct answer. Right and wrong are judgements. Fortunately, Life doesn't judge us if we drown or slip, it just carries on Life-ing.
Therefore, a more pertinent question is Who Are You? And Why Are You Here?
Take a look at your life for a moment.
What does it all mean? What are you doing that feeds your heart and soul?
Whose flow are you following? Are you creating your own?
Do you feel like you have choices or do you feel stuck, as though you're trapped in a bottle that's being hurtled into the rapids and god knows where you'll land?
Many of us are locked into patterns of behaviour that we've been participating in for 20+ years. We resort to what we know without considering that we, and the world around us, has changed.
We talk about who we were instead of allowing ourselves to get present and become the witness.
Examining our lives in this way is vital if we want to feel grounded and purposeful. Our lives are not frivolous, they are precious. It's helpful for us to check in and ask … Who Am I? What Am I?
How much of this Life is a pre-recording and is there another way?
Does the metaphor of the River Ganges hold any new truths for you or are you content within your current slipstream?
These are the questions of our heart.
We don't need to know the answers but asking opens us up to new possibilities. We only need to look around to see that something is changing, which means we also are changing.
Into what? Towards where?
Can we become patient enough to listen and let go … to allow ourselves to meet Life where it's at and let the estuary of grace be our truth.
Or, are we determined to keep paddling upstream, not recognising that Life is an unknowable mystery. Not believing that if are were willing to open our hearts and learn to soften our minds, we might enter a cascade of limitless Love that surges within and around us, always.