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Be Responsive Not Reactive

Icy stream with snow

What can nature's conservation of energy
teach us about our reactions?

November 2017
In mountain snow, nature conserves water for summer's use;
Summer’s blossoms are planted in autumn to nourish spring.

There is a cycle in nature that means what we observe today will have a different purpose tomorrow. Nature drives the optimal conditions that will sustain life in an endless flow toward abundance. It is blind to obstacles except in how it tears them down, and nature's enormous power to renew itself also flows through us. This flow transcends our linear sense of time and can inspire the cultivation of peacefulness. We too, we are a part of something larger than ourselves.

The obstacles we face are always transformed when we step back to view our life in a larger cycle or from a perspective without limitations. No matter the event, life cultivates our authenticity and encourages us to open. Our reactions stem from fear and our need for control. To flow into a state of abundance, we need only let go of how we block it. When we remove any sense of separation from all that we experience, we see life as a mystery calling us to participate.

Leaves take in sunlight during spring and summer and become fertilizer in the fall. Temperatures change throughout the year to transform water’s molecular structure. Warm temperatures generate faster molecular movement that leads to spring and summer rains. During winter, lower temperatures decrease molecular movement altogether. In its frozen state, water at higher altitudes is conserved as snow for later use downriver. Nature expresses itself perfectly in time. Life is not always a flowering, but also periods of darkness and gestation.

When you boil water, the movement of molecules goes so fast, steam is produced. In clouds too, the water molecules develop sufficient kinetic energy to overcome any bonding forces that would hold them together and rain is released as precipitation. In the same way, situations that unfold faster than you can deal with them in the moment - can make you blow your lid. Anger can be how you encounter precipitous events that release a buildup of pressure, but the pressure reveals the distance you have traveled from the flow.

Just as the heat, clouds and rain cannot be separated in their interaction - what causes your anger is not the event, and it is not necessarily bad. In most cases your response was more than the situation warranted. You had already reached your boiling point, and were simmering for some time. The difference between response and reaction is the past attitude you place on present events. Nature’s conservation of energy might inspire you to become the master of your response. Don't look at the event - understand your reaction.

Be inspired by nature’s laws of conservation to use and release the energy of expression by responding more and reacting less. Explore the difference between the two. Take personal responsibility for the unprocessed energy you carry with you. Ice and snow capture the molecular shape of water in its crystal formation and is actually quite beautiful. It serves as a snapshot of the shape of harmony that can compose your inner core.

Rise like an ocean wave called forward by the moon. Breathe into the wind the way winter changes into spring. Be without expectation, like the night sky suddenly filled with light when the dawning of awareness arrives. And like the bird who sings without knowing why, launch each day as a celebration of gratitude. Be patient so life can pull you into its dance.

Being responsive to the moment and not over-reacting to every event ensures that energy can be conserved and harmonized with how life shapes you. Anger can serve a purpose if it releases you from your hold on the past. Nothing in life is static however, so it does no good to hold onto anything.

Experience unmasks you, but if you have closed off your ability to respond to life, situations often unfold to release you. When you are critical of others, you believe they are critical of you. To live without judgment, you will never feel judged. It is impossible to achieve the type of control you desire so let it go. Your idea of perfection is limited by what you cannot see - and what you cannot see is how nature releases you back into its flow of abundance.

When a leaf is tugged from a branch during winter, it is not a critical gesture. Without letting its leaves fall, there would be no nutrients for its roots. When a river carries dirt downstream, nothing has been lost. The elements that compose our universe today - existed in the beginning. All things ebb and flow, finding productive use of the time.

Trust in life’s gentle prodding for release – nothing is ever working against you. If you derive your self worth by solving problems, you will find a road composed of many problems. In nature there is a time and there is a season for all activity. Composing your inner world allows you to become master of your experiences. Being open, you will discover harmony in all you do.

One of the greatest lessons of Taoism is learning how to achieve tranquility in disturbance. Just as the tree follows a cycle of release during autumn - in preparation for spring - allow life's drive toward abundance to release you into its flow.

Great perfection will always appear chipped. Without controlling anything, you can become the master of your experiences.

Explore your reactions by taking a breath prior to responding. Travel below what you are feeling to understand what has pushed your buttons. Return to the moment and see if you can discover something you have not witnessed before. How have you overlaid the present with assumptions of the past? Nature can remind you how life remains committed to the well being and success of its creatures. How would you know? Because everything you will ever need to survive was already here when you arrived. When you know no boundaries, you will discover no limitations. When you open the doors, you will discover life as a mystery calling you to participate. Nothing is ever working against you. Release whatever has kept you living in the past. Challenges are meant to make your stronger. Own the experience as an opportunity to open, then let it go. Open to the flow and trust that everything is unfolding perfectly to lead you where you need to be.