Don’t Push the River: Let Go and Take Your Time

norway fjords

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

I typically wait until I’ve reached the “light on the other side of the tunnel” to blog about my struggles and life experiences. But this one comes to you from my very core, right in the thick of it. It’s deep. 

It’s murky. It’s frustrating. And I’m learning as I commit to being present for the ride.

The struggle I am presented with currently is: finding the delicate balance between intentionally slowing down, and procrastinating out of fear of failure. This year, I’ve set an intention to slow my life DOWN. I’ve traded in my full-time fast-paced corporate job for a more spacious schedule (in theory) filled with the things that keep my zest for life at a maximum: teaching yoga, educating others on health and wellness, one-on-one coaching, writing, and continuing education.

The truth is, my days could be kept to 2-3 hours of work, and they could be filled to the brim from the time I wake to the time my head hits the pillow. The choice is mine.

And this freedom and flexibility to choose is often swayed by one of my fundamental fears: that if I am not busy, I am not WORTHY.
My life cannot be meaningful, impactful unless I am doing, all the time. And so, I’ve created the habit of unnecessarily filling my time, to keep busy, and to appease that critical fear-based voice.

Don’t Push the River: Let Go and Take Your Time

I know that I’ve let fear run the show for far too long. So instead of dancing around it, I’ve been inching closer to facing it head on, as of late. I’ve carved out time in the morning for spiritual reflection and midday for meditation. I’ve slowed the pace of other projects (my blog included) to be wholeheartedly present with just a few things at a time, and just being in general. 

Along the way, I’ve placed an intentional effort in remaining open to guidance from the Universe. I’ve been lucky enough to experience a few critical moments of synchronicity – little cues that I am on the right path, and for them, and the deep breaths that follow, I am supremely grateful.

However, I am still in the forest of fear and procrastination. Do I step up my yoga offerings, making them available online? Teaching at multiple studios? Offering personal sessions? Do I follow through on opening my virtual coaching business? Online marketing and email campaigns? Program development? Do I ramp up my writing?  Publish my first book?

self sabotage

The thoughts can spiral in such a way that I am paralyzed and exhausted before taking any sort of action on any one of them! What’s really important is to ask myself: what’s driving my desire? Is it an intuitive pull to share my life energy with others? Or is it fear driving me into doing more, disguised as excitement? While I know the two feel very different, I’ve done a pretty good job of convincing myself for a long time that they’re one-in-the-same.

When the dust settles it is clear that the best answer for me right now is – to give it time. To trust, listen, and wait.

I once received the gift of an intuitive reading, and during it, she kept feeling that she needed to share with me, “don’t push the river”. I haven’t seen or given intentional thought to it for years, until yesterday, when it was presented in a different form. Coincidence? I think not! 

For now, I am sitting with the discomfort. I am sitting with the fear-based thoughts. I am embracing the struggle to allow being to come before doing. I am choosing to trust that when I am open, receptive, and clear when I don’t push the river, the answers will unfold naturally. I hope you will extend yourself the same space and kindness.



“Don’t push the river” was the catchphrase of the 1960s and 70s — it was an epithet thrown at anyone who acted tense, anxious, and uptight in those hippie and post-hippie decades filled with pop therapies like Transactional Analysis, Gestalt Therapy, and many others. It was certainly the guiding principle of Fritz Perls’s Gestalt work: if someone in a group were working on a dream in which he was afraid of a river, he might be told, “Become the river” and encouraged to stand up and move around the room like the river, to feel how the river flows by itself. “There are no rules in Gestalt, only awareness,” Fritz might tell him. Anything you fear or resist out in the world is part of you and inside you, and becoming aware of its presence and vitality will free you from pushing and move you into flowing. – the source.

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