The Ebb and Flow of Life

1. Introduction

In my coaching I’ve developed various tools to help people work through issues on their own, prior to, during, and after their coaching engagements with me. One of the most helpful tools has proven to be “Eight Essential Questions- Focus on the Life You Desire”.

If you would like a copy of the document, please contact me.

The aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami are still very much with us in Japan as we’re getting numerous strong aftershocks every day. This leads me to once again present a water related story I wrote a number of years ago.

In Community,

2. The Ebb and Flow of Life

During my first year in Japan I hitchhiked for two weeks, visiting rural fishing villages on the west coast of Japan. At the time I spoke little Japanese, and relied on the kindness of the people I met.

I visited tiny villages that had no hotels and rarely encountered tourists. Upon entering a village, I would find a kind-looking soul and pantomime that I needed a place to sleep. When my acting skills proved sufficient, I wound up in the house of a family willing to take in visitors for a small fee. After eating with my hosts, I would then be led to a simple room to sleep in.

In one village I had the privilege of staying with a remarkable man and his family. One night the man and I sat on a small wooden dock by the ocean. Using lots of gestures to help me understand, the man told me about his life. He was 63 years old. As a boy he’d been very involved in studying karate, but at the age of nineteen his life changed dramatically. Working on his father’s fishing boat in rough seas, he lost his balance, and fell just as he was throwing a heavy fishing cage overboard. His left leg got caught in the line attached to the cage and the damage caused to the muscles and nerves of his left calf was severe. This left him with a permanent limp.

Once he realized he’d no longer be able to study karate, he made a firm commitment to use his life as a fisherman to further his studies. He read various books written by martial arts masters and then applied the principles of what he learned to his work life.

“One of the most important things I learned,” he said, “is to create a rhythm with your posture, movements, and breathing, that matches the rhythm of nature. When I injured myself on the boat, I was so involved in handling the heavy cage that I lost touch with the flow of my surroundings. I was fighting against the ocean, rather than moving with it. Guess what? The ocean won!”

“Notice the gentle ebb and flow of the water as we sit here now,” he said, “and the sound of the tide lapping against the pilings of the pier.”

“As you sense the movement and sounds of the ocean, notice your breathing, and feel your body responding.”

I began to do as he suggested and felt myself being drawn into a parallel world that was outside my everyday awareness.

“Feel the life force of the ocean, and without doing anything, allow yourself to move with the ocean.

“Breathe, move, and feel your heartbeat.

“Invite your heartbeat to synchronize with the heartbeat of the ocean.

“As you become one with the water, you might sense the fluids in your body ebbing and flowing, like the ocean entering into a shallow inlet filled with coral.

“Like the ocean, you can begin to feel the power of flowing without resisting. Flowing without fighting against.

“Water surrounds and moves past all obstacles, and you can do the same.

“Simply flow.

“A single drop of water, has no power. A single drop of water moving with the flow of the ocean forms a wave. The power of the wave comes from joining with. The same is true of me and you.”

We sat there together for a while. The man, myself, and the ocean.

Not separate, but together.

In that moment I sensed all power is really One.

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