Flow vs. Clench
“Flow” defined: to move along in a stream; to circulate; to well forth; to issue from a source; to proceed continuously and smoothly . . .
“Clench” defined: to close tightly; grip; to grasp firmly; to knot up.
Examples of flow: breath is long, slow, nurturing, conscious. It’s felt deeply in the belly.
Examples of clench: breath is short, quick, without thought. It’s trying to survive.
Flow . . . softening. Striving for nothing. Rejecting nothing.
Clench . . . trying or expending effort. Attempting to stay ahead of one’s self. Defending against what might be coming next. Trying to figure things out before they happen. Hoping to stay “safe” by staying ahead.
Even the judgment that flow is better than clench is a form of clenching. We learn through the experience of contrast. It is impossible to know or understand light without experiencing darkness, happiness without sadness, flowing without clenching.
Is it possible to simply notice? Notice the shortness of breath and then choose to deepen the next inhale without making up a story about it, notice the tension in the body and choose relaxation.
Sometimes the noticing is followed by a judgment: “Oh my God, I’m barely even breathing and my shoulders are so knotted up and I’ve been lost in my thoughts and criticisms all day.” Which in turn is followed by a judgment of the judgment: “That’s not being very accepting or living in the moment. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t even know how to breathe right or to trust. And God knows what ‘surrender’ is. Maybe other people don’t have as many responsibilities as I do. I’ll never get this right.”
On and on. We create layers upon layers of harshness where flow and presence are hard to imagine, much less experience.
Remember every moment is new. It’s a chance to begin again. It’s an opportunity for softening – striving for nothing, resisting nothing, proceeding forth from a source, moving along in a stream. Deep, slow, conscious breaths come and nurture one. They allow the mind-body to relax and find peace.