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Canoes and Mindset

When I lived in California in the late 1990s, I attended business networking events to promote my career counseling practice. I sat in at many networking luncheons and had many lovely conversations with new people. We all nearly always left inspired, and I enjoyed it very much.

One time as conversations simmered down and we prepared to part ways, someone said to me, “Have you heard of Esther Hicks?” I said that I hadn’t met her yet, and I asked more about her and why they brought her up. The person responded with what Esther and Jerry Hicks were all about and stated that I sounded like Esther when I talked about positive mental attitudes, inspiration, and hope. That seemed like a nice thing to say, but when the person explained what Esther did in her public speaking appearances, I freaked out and didn’t give it another thought.

But then Esther Hicks was brought up to me again and again over six months. That was my cue to pay more attention. Once something comes into my life more than a couple of times, I take that as a cue to check into it further. I consider that a type of intuitive guidance.

So I looked Esther Hicks up and gave her a fair shot. Once I got beyond the strangeness of what Esther did on stage, I took to listening in periodically over the years. In retrospect, I probably got all I needed to hear the first time I heard her speak.

The first idea that I heard from Esther is about being in your canoe, letting go of the paddles, and just laying back and resting in your canoe as you float downstream. The underlying idea is to trust the river to take you to experiences you will enjoy. That image resonated with me. I was tired of striving, and I knew floating happily down the river thanks to tubing the Illinois during my childhood.

I instantly felt substantial relief in my body, my intuition pinged, and I knew this idea was what I needed. To this day, I still do a mini-meditation where I picture and feel myself floating downstream whenever I’m grounded and aware enough to realize that I’ve been trying too hard.

For me, trying too hard is a surefire way to self-sabotage. My dad and coaches used to tell me that as a teen. They encouraged me to feel the play unfolding because, I know now, they appreciated the brilliance they saw from me when I just flowed with it and didn’t overthink or try too hard. When I was at my best, I was an intuitive athlete. Little did I know that my angels were trying to teach me something fundamental even way back then.

When I heard about letting your canoe go downstream rather than fighting the current to head upstream all those years later, it clicked into place.

As Esther said, “There’s nothing that you want upstream.” To me, that means that upstream there is only more paddling, struggle. I don’t want to struggle. I want to flow.

I have been welcoming much more joy in my life as I’ve remembered to let go of the oars, and this I appreciate.