Be Like Water

DenaApril 5, 2011

My new mantra came to me during my Monday morning meditation: Be like water.

It was during my first reading of the Tao Te Ching, that I realized the true supremacy of water.

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. —Tao Te Ching

I think of this quote often, but have not done enough to live this wisdom in my own life. The miracle and strength of water is that it does not resist. Resistance is the source of much sickness, weakness, & unhappiness. I have found that when I resist, I suffer. When I accept, I live true happiness.

Many things cause us to resist. For example, I tend to resist when I am having a disagreement with a loved one. I want to fight back, defend my stance. Yet this resistance serves no purpose and only causes me more frustration. However, when I accept the disagreement; state my purpose; and then move on—I experience no frustration. Another example of how I resist is housework. Often when I know that I have housework to do, I become extremely resistant and rigid. I act stubbornly and put off doing my chores. I cause myself unnecessary turmoil. I may even develop a headache or stomach ache because I cause myself so much stress. Yet when I stop resisting, and just do the housework, I feel fine. If I play my favourite music while working, my housework can even be enjoyable & fulfilling.

These are minor examples of resistance and acceptance; but there are also much larger ones. As I’ve previously mentioned, I lost my cat back in October. Recently, the pain of her loss has resurfaced. I cried for nearly an hour on Sunday morning. Again, I was resisting. In my resistance, my mind grew irrational. I even thought of going out to the yard to dig up her body just so that I could hold her one more time. This resistance caused me extreme emotional pain. The emotional pain caused me physical pain, too. My head and stomach ached. I was pinned down to the bed unable to move for awhile. I know that I should have allowed acceptance to enter my heart. With acceptance in my heart, I could rationally understand that Mika is at rest now; that she was brought into my life to show me love; and that she has now entered another phase in the cycle of life: which is death.

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. —Tao Te Ching

Water is the supreme example of acceptance. It never struggles, it simply flows. It does not resist its path. It does not resist The Tao or the way. It just is. And even though water is the most humble of things—offering no resistance—it is also the strongest of things. By simply flowing, it is capable of wearing away even the most solid rock.

The Grand Canyon

When we practice acceptance—when we act like water—we are capable of being our greatest selves. We embody strength and grace at once. Take a few moments to reflect on the things that you are resisting in your own life. What are you resisting? Is your resistance serving you? Or, would it benefit you to behave like water: to accept & live happiness.

In love & light,

Comments (5)

  • Kristin

    April 5, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for sharing, Dena. This is such an important (yet whack-your-head-against-your-desk simple) principle. Sometimes, however, there is a cavernous disconnect between wrapping your head around something and actually integrating it into our behaviors, huh? I wish it wasn’t so, but it seems to be a natural human handicap.

    I agree, that to simply do things is the best approach. Every Sunday, I make a “to do” list for the week in the list of priority, with the biggest projects and soonest deadlines at the top, and mere “I might like to do this…” items at the bottom. A lot of times, I am so thrilled to do the very last items that it makes barreling through the most important ones seem easy (even if previously I had thought how in the F am I going to get all of this done? I know there is a reward at the end, much like the ocean at the end of the river. Or at the end of a turbulent tributary, there is a bigger body of water that is fresher, cleaner, colder, and moving with purpose towards its ultimate destination. And even when it gets there, it keeps moving. That is the beauty of it, and of us!! 🙂

    1. Dena

      April 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

      @ Kristin – So glad you liked the post, Kristin. 🙂 You are right. It is a very simple, but incredibly useful philosophy. I have often wished to tattoo the word accept on my forehead or maybe my wrist. With all of the strife that I’ve been through in my lifetime, I have never found one where acceptance did not help. The challenge, though, is remembering to accept. It seems that our primal instinct (especially those of is with some anxiety!) is to resist.

      It is a learned behavior. I hope that adopting “Be like water” as my current mantra will help me along the path.

  • Anonymous

    April 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Water adapts. It takes many different forms: ice, rain, clouds, and becomes many different shapes as well. Bruce Lee said, “If you pour water into a tea kettle, it becomes the tea kettle”, we ARE water.

  • Tony

    June 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

    My wife is a perfect example of this, once a goal is placed she seems to have a uncanny ability to wander and wear her way towards it. I have the nasty habit of analyzing almost everything, and that frequently leads to over thinking. Both methods provide their problems. There is a danger in flowing towards a goal that is never questioned, This is how driven people find themselves in a great job with an unhappy life.

    I think the trick is to be able to question, and then flow. Only question for a set amount of time, then with this new redirection flow towards it… set points of reflection and redirection, and then again flow.

    1. Dena

      June 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

      @ Tony – Thank you so much for stopping by. You are absolutely right it is so important to establish that balance between thoughtfulness & free-flowing acceptance. I am like you. By nature, I tend to over-think rather than just flow. My fiance is more like you wife, constantly flowing. It is healthy to have the yin & yang in the relationship, always balancing one another.

      Thanks again for your comment. Have a beautiful day! 🙂

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