Don't Push The River


A wise friend of mine once gave me these words of advice, as I was gnashing my teeth, trying to "make" something happen.

 She said, "Mindy, you can't push the river. You can flow with it, or you can thrash about and exhaust yourself in it, but you can't make it do what it's not going to do."

It's great advice that I've found myself giving to several friends and clients lately. And it's appropriate for not only your mental health, but your physical health, as well.

One of my clients came in recently with a sore wrist. She was frustrated because she had been doing physical therapy exercises, receiving massage therapy, had been icing it and using a heating pad, and taking ibuprofin. But she still had pain.

She was especially upset because it had been going on so long - a couple of weeks. 

When she asked me what else I thought she could do, I responded, "Maybe it just needs some time to heal."


In our instant gratification society, we've become quite comfortable with things happening immediately. And when we have to slow down for a natural cycle, we tend to lose patience. Quickly.

Whether it's trying to get your tomatoes to grow more quickly, healing an injury, or trying to get more clients, sometimes we simply have to relax, go within, and wait. The river cannot be pushed.

Recently, a friend and I were talking about how she wanted to change her career, but she wasn't sure what she wanted to do instead. She was running all sorts of possibilities by me, asking my opinion, and wondering how quickly she should make the change. 

When she asked me why she felt so confused - after all, she felt she needed to do something, and fast - I repeated the phrase, "You can't push the river. Maybe you just need to wait for awhile, be open, and see what comes up for you."

She felt much more relaxed, and stopped approaching the dilemma with desperation and angst. 

This idea of not pushing the river is something that I love,  because often, if you are still enough, long enough, guidance will come through.

In what areas of your life or your practice are you trying (perhaps with all your might) to push the river? How would it be instead to slow down, and flow with the river? Ah...