Isn’t it funny how life can continuously build on the many challenges within your life to bring about change, both positive and negative? Change is the biggest variable we must learn to deal with when living with chronic illness, whether in ourselves or in a loved one. Coping with that change means learning to “Go with the Flow”.

I find life to be a fascinating and challenging study at times – a study in finding balance through change. In reflecting on the past few weeks, I can see the changes in myself, in people around me, in ripples flowing out into the world. OMG – I am starting to sound like I have been smoking something, don’t I? Well, have patience and bear with me, please!

I look at how yoga has brought profound change to my life these past months – giving me back my ability to cope with the constant changes within my body due to my MS – from seizures to fatigue. It gave me back my confidence in my own ability to withstand the daily life challenges that we all face – by giving me the means to access my inner tranquility, my inner strength and peace, at any time I need it. It gave me back my physical confidence too – by giving me back my ability to stand strong and rooted to the earth, no longer afraid that I will be knocked to the ground by the slightest jostle.

While I cannot control when or if I will have seizures, nor their severity, I can control my own methods of coping. My method? To go with the Flow…the Flow being pretty much everything around me: the ebb and tide of monthly cycles; the flow of hormones as the change of life stage begins in earnest; the daily, even hourly, changes of my MS symptoms, from pain levels and nausea to fatigue and cognitive ability. (The bane of my scientific existence – I see patterns within patterns! ) The Flow includes the people and world around you too – I can affect the Flow by my own reactions to my internal Flow – if I react to pain and fatigue by becoming snappish – my Flow can create a ripple of anxiety which can negatively impact the people around me. If however, I react to pain and fatigue by becoming quiet and remaining calm and focused, my Flow has much less impact on those around me – others may be concerned, but not anxious or frustrated. Sometimes, I literally stop everything just to close my eyes and breathe.

Flowing water

This ability to “go with the flow” is very important for someone with a chronic illness like MS, because plans can change on a dime depending on the “symptom flare du jour”. During the busy holiday season, the ability to go with the flow can become critical in managing your own health.

In yoga philosophy, going with the flow is often compared to being fluid like water. Water bends itself around obstacles – always finding a path forward some way, some how. (OK – All you weather weenies out there, let’s not get into the heavy factual details. I know water can also create amazing damage – but stay with me here! I am drawing a picture!)

My point? This holiday season, as the schedules become frantically busy, and the weather gets colder, strive to maintain inner balance and manage your health by going with the Flow; your Flow – whatever that may be on any given day. Honour that flow – and honour yourselves. That’s the best holiday gift you could ever give yourself – and to your loved ones.