Wu-Wei: Going with the Flow

“By listening carefully within, as well as to our surroundings, by remembering that we are part of an interconnected whole, by remaining still until action is called forth, we can perform valuable, necessary, and long-lasting service in the world while cultivating our ability to be at one with the Tao. Such is the power of wu-wei, allowing ourselves to be guided by the Tao.” Ted Kardash

Have you discovered the power of doing absolutely nothing? As an extrovert with a ‘type A’ personality, it’s taken me a long time to accept my own need to occasionally just stop and take a moment to breathe; to go with the flow, and to just allow myself to stand still together with time in a place without expectation and results.

We tend to attach a great value to the concept of “busyness” in business. I am consciously aware of the number of people who ask me if I am “keeping busy” as though it is a signal of my success. I am compelled to fill my time with obligations and to-do lists. I am compelled to keep moving.

In my work with the horses, one of the concepts that I’ve come to value is the Taoism concept of “wu-wei” or the action of “non-action” or “non-doing.” In his article on Taoism and the “Wu-Wei” principle, Ted Kardash notes that a key principle in realizing our oneness with the Tao is that of “non-doing.” He writes: “Wu-wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one’s environment. It is not motivated by a sense of separateness. It is action that is spontaneous and effortless. At the same time it is not to be considered inertia, laziness, or mere passivity. Rather, it is the experience of going with the grain or swimming with the current. Our contemporary expression, “going with the flow,” is a direct expression of this fundamental Taoist principle, which in its most basic form refers to behavior occurring in response to the flow of the Tao or the flow of life.”

As part of The Mane Intent’s facilitated equine experiential learning program, we introduce clients to the concept of “wu wei” or “creative quietude”. Simple in nature, it is actually a difficult endeavour for many people who have not yet mastered the art of ‘going with the flow.’ Participants are each assigned to a horse at liberty in the field and are directed to simply “be” in partnership with that horse. There is no talking and ideally, no touching. Just letting go of any expectation of what is “supposed” to happen or judgements and just “being” with the herd. In doing so, we learn that not imposing our intentions is an art.

This ‘activity’ or the action of ‘non-action’ has become one of my own personal favourites as it forces me to stop and just be, enjoying the presence and peacefulness that emerges in the presence of these powerful yet peaceful beings. It allows me to create space in a full-mind to stop and listen to my inner voice and the ‘voice’ of the natural environment around me in a non-interfering, receptive way. In this way, I am learning to rely on more than just my intellect and logical mind to gather and access information. I am also developing and trusting my intuition to achieve a greater sense of personal and professional balance.

In Peter Economy’s blog titled “The Remarkable Power of Doing Absolutely Nothing”, he notes that “Doing nothing gives us a chance to grow. Being alone without obligation – without the nagging feeling that we are doing less than we should – allows us to look inward. Without an activity to distract our minds, we must think about ourselves.” Peter suggests that the secret to success in business and in life, is actually finding the ability to be comfortable just being.

Have you ever questioned why you do everything you do? What is it that makes you passionate about your work? Is it time for you to just stop and ponder what you need to connect to greater possibility? How can the practice of Wu Wei be helpful in your life?

The Mane Intent creates unique learning experiences for individuals, couples, small groups and teams interested in exploring what’s possible in life and work with a little horse power. Programing includes Leading With Intent — Horse Assisted Coaching. Book your session today at www.themaneintent.ca

 

The Mane Intent

June 12, 2015

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