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My wife, Beth, and I have developed a shorthand reminder we say to ourselves when feeling anxious and overwhelmed. When we find ourselves braced, irritable, and furrow-browed because of parenting, finances, the news, the dog ripping up the screened porch or the myriad of other stressors, we say to ourselves, “Trust Flow.” Those two words are designed to be a gentle stick in the spokes of functioning in egoic auto-pilot, a default mode of operating where everything is up to us.
Without effort, I easily fall into the belief that I am on my own and everything is on my shoulders like some cosmic orphan alone in a scary world. “Trust Flow” is the reminder that I am not alone, I don’t have to push the river, and I can rest into Divine love and presence. Most of Jesus’ imperatives were not about doing more but actually letting things be: “Don’t be afraid,” “Don’t hoard,” “Do not worry,” “Abide in me.” But it takes practice to actually let things be!
By choosing to create intentional space, even a few minutes a day, we strengthen the muscle of resting and abiding and letting be. Over time, as we practice trusting flow, we experience a shift from braced to relaxed, from anxious to inner-quiet, from isolation to connection. To trust flow is to see the world through the eyes of Christ.
Spiritual practice, according to Andrew Newberg, MD and neurologist, can decrease activity in the right frontal lobe (while not changing the left frontal lobe area). This right frontal lobe is associated with negative thinking and worry. When the right frontal lobe activity decreases, this signals less pessimism and increases overall improvement in emotional health. Joy and bliss arise from this biological activity in the brain.
Richard Rohr, Franciscan friar and teacher, provides additional insight into how we might open ourselves to this shift in our mental and spiritual health. Rohr said: “Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.” This week’s spiritual practice, with the blessing of the science of the brain, invites us to experience our lives as a flowing river and stay in the current of trust each day.
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