Everything in our world works with an ebb and flow - times of moving out and times of pulling in. We see it in our seasons, cycles of plant life, our breath, cycles of wake and rest. Ebb and flow are critical to the function of our lives, our world.
Ebb and flow also exists in other, more abstract areas of life -- our moods, career success, relationships, finances, self-esteem, self-awareness, etc. However, we have more difficulty acknowledging the ebb and flow in these areas. Our culture values flow - being constantly "on", constantly producing, pouring out, extroverting, progressing in our jobs and careers, becoming more and more financially stable. We have missed the value of the ebb - the times to pull back, rest, reflect, restore. Our culture sees the ebb as "less than" - shy, lazy, unfocused, apathetic.
IMPORTANCE OF THE EBB
The ebb is important through all of nature. It is a time to reset. During nightly rest, our bodies reset, run a systems check, and restore chemical balance in our organs and our brain. When rest is interrupted, the reset and restore is incomplete, and we begin the "flow" of our days from a place where we are physically not ready. This can manifest in nausea, cognitive impairments, dizziness, decreased alertness and productivity, and less ability to regulate moods. Ebb in conversation is also important - a time for us to listen, to draw in and reflect, which is necessary to maintain the conversation.
Ebbs are also necessary in other areas of life. A romantic relationship cannot always be fireworks - there must be some times of peace and rest and genuine relating and even disagreement. Our moods cannot be constantly euphoric - we must have times of more stable moods, and even times when life's circumstances bring us genuine depressed, angry, or anxious moods.
WAYS TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND EMBRACE THE EBB
1. Calm your body and mind. -- Flow is a constant pouring out of energy. Ebb requires quieting your mind and body. There are many ways to do this. Some of the most effective are deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing in calming essential oils, and finding ways to play and add fun and leisure to your life. Other paths to calm include yoga, meditation, and energy work (such as Reiki and Qigong).
2. Be aware and present - just observe. -- Instead of spinning wheels and spending energy in the messages about your ebb, just become aware of what is around you. An easy way to start is with your 5 senses - what do you see, hear, taste, smell, feel? Start with what's around you, and move your awareness in - what feelings do you feel? What messages are in your thought pattern? Where is tension in your body? Observe these things as if you were writing down facts for a news story. By focusing on the now, we can minimize judgment, and we can also increase our awareness of the benefits of our current ebb.
3. Let go of judgment -- We tend to value flow, but not ebb. Consciously acknowledge this fact, and be aware of it. The ebb is critical to the flow. One cannot exist without the other. Once you begin to value the ebb as much as the flow, you can spend your energy acknowledging the ebb, and learning what you can from it.
You walk into a room and instantly feel tension and anxiety. Instead of beating yourself up about the fact that you feel anxious, pay attention to your strong reaction. What is happening around you? What is the source of your stress? What is the anxiety telling you? Are you anxious about something that is a legitimate threat, or something that is rooted in your own "junk"?
You have been moving up the corporate ladder at work steadily since you began working there. However, you have not progressed as effectively in the past year. Your first instinct is to judge yourself about your lack of "Success" at work. Instead of judging, take time to acknowledge where you are. Is it possible that you have reached your limits at this place of employment? Do you need to consider transferring to somewhere else? What is the source of your frustration?
The Ebb is necessary to life. Embrace and value it, and find ways to appreciate the "pull in" as much as society values the "push out".