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Transform your challenges: Go with the Flow (Mary O’Malley)

Learn how to transform your struggles into the peace you long for and go with the flow.  Mary O’Malley, author of  “What’s in the Way IS the way”, shares how you can use life challenges as a gateway to finding yourself and your path.

What does it mean to go with the flow?

In her book, “What’s in the Way IS The Way”, Mary presents Michael Beckwith’s six phases of consciousness to help provide a framework for “going with the flow”:

  • Life happens TO you (you are a victim to life)
  • Life happens by You (you control life)
  • Life happens in you (Life is to be listened to)
  • Life happens for you (All of your life circumstances are for your benefit)
  • Life Happens through you (Life is speaking to you at all moments)
  • Life is you (You can stand and flow with life versus trying to control or react to it. You are connected to everything around you. You are Life).

“Going with the flow” is the idea that you are listening, surrendering, and living with the flow of life versus trying to control and fix it. When you are surrendering to the natural flow of life, you hear Life speaking to you. You see life events as opportunities for growth. You are “one” with life…and harming life is harmful to yourself.

VIDEO: Mary describes going with the flow as being in the meadow

  • 2:10 How do we live with more consciousness?

What does it mean to surrender to God? And Go with the FLow of Life?

Mary shares her experience living in the flow of life and surrendering into God. Her story below demonstrates that it’s about developing a deep trust in Life:

“When you realize that Life is smarter than you, Life becomes very interesting.  Rather than being lost in your storyteller (your mind), you realize something very extraordinary is happening here: there are no ordinary moments in your life! You become much more alert to what is happening, both outside and inside of you. If one’s life is like an iceberg, most people just pay attention to the part above the water while what is really going on is happening underneath the ‘water level’ of their everyday awareness.

It is true that you are driving, working, showering, cooking, etc… But underneath it all is the unfolding of intelligent evolution, and you are part of that. You are evolving from an unconscious human being into a conscious one. This is happening in every experience of your life- every experience!  Life is for Life. It is supporting your shift from being asleep to being awake. It is giving you exactly what you need in order to know the fruit of a conscious human being, which is the ability to awake to life.

Living from the truth that your life is for you, you being to let go of the belief that your suffering is caused by something outside of you: other people, your job, the shape of your body, etc….You begin to see that your suffering is coming from inside you, caused by the spells (stories in your mind). Yes, there are difficult things that happen in your life, but when you don’t get lost in your stories about them, you respond to the situation, gathering the gifts that are always embedded in the challenges of your life.” p 176

What are the benefits of going with the flow?

Mary O’Malley describes the benefits you get from living in the flow:

“As you awaken, you become less interested in trying to change anything in your life and more interested in what is going on inside of you, especially in difficult situations.  You have a deeper sense of allowing Life to put you in the exact situations you need in order for the core spells that make up your storyteller to be brought to the surface of your awareness. It is there that you can see them, watch them in action, and discover that they are just spells that were conditioned into you when you were young and that you no longer need to buy into them.

It is almost as if these deep and ancient spells of fear, shame, doubt, jealousy, not being enough, loneliness, and anger, are like champagne bubbles that have been trapped inside of you. As your resistance to experiencing them lessen, they begin to loosen, arising to the surface to be seen. As they are fully seen, they burst, and the energy that was formerly trapped in them lets go. Rather than being afraid of the purification process, you being to welcome it as the longing to be fully awake to Life becomes stronger than the fear of your spells.” P177

What beliefs prevent us from going with the flow? (p57)

At an early age, we develop beliefs about the world and begin to learn a fear-based mindset. This in turn results in losing our natural ability to go with the flow. In Mary O’Malley’s Book “What’s In The Way IS The Way”, she describes how we lose a sense of listening to the life signals around us and thereby, the connection to our higher wisdom. Despite the good intentions of our parents and others to educate us about life, their fear-based stories tend to create a perception that the world is not a safe place. These stories set a foundational set of beliefs that keep us fixed in fear and out of the flow of Life.

Mary O’Malley describes the core beliefs, spells and illusions that keep us from going with the natural flow of life:

“Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” – Chuang Tzu

Two foundational Spells:

  • I am separate from Life
  • Life is not safe

Three Operations Spells

  • I must control life.
  • I must do it right
  • I am not doing it right enough

Three Hidden Spells

  • I am wrong (Because I am not doing it right)
  • I am unlovable
  • I am alone

Video Links:

  • 6:22 What are thoughts that keep us in delusions, maya, or being in the clouds? Mary enlightens us that we are in a heaven-like spacious meadow full of light and that we just forget.

Resources – Getting out of your head

Gary Renard (A Course in Miracles) shares his thoughts on self-delusions:


Fear:  How does controling and fixing things get us out of the flow?

The desire to take control and mend things to meet our expectations is behavior that pulls us out of the flow of life. Letting go of control allows us to open up more, listen to what Life is saying and get back into the flow.

The next sections explain how these behaviors are driven from formative beliefs of feeling disconnected from life and beliefs that Llfe isn’t safe.


Viewing life as unsafe implies two things: First, life must be controlled in order to ensure our safety. Secondly, it assumes that we are separate from life, which means that Life, like any object, can be controlled.

Here’s a beautiful passage from Mary’s book “What in the Way IS the Way” that explains the nature of control:

“At first, it’s a foreign concept that you don’t need to spend your time manipulating your experience of life. It is foreign because you and everybody else have been conditioned to believe that your job is to make your life be what you think it should be. In other words, you’ve been trying to create a particular reality rather than showing up for reality.

As it begins to dawn on you that trying to control Life cuts you off from fully experiencing Life and maybe Life knows what it is doing, you begin to recognize the truth that it is safe to open to its creative, intelligent flow. Yes that flow includes pain, loss, and death. We have tried to control Life in order to get away from these seemingly unlikeable experiences. By the suffering we create for ourselves by resisting Life’s flow is far greater than the pain we experience by being open to all of it.

This can be scaly at the beginning, for being lost in the illusion of control is like walking down the path of Life enclosed in a suit of armor.  As you begin to relax into Life, the pieces of the armor start falling away and you feel unprotected and naked.  In order to discover the courage it takes to step out of the illusion of control, feel what would be more alive-clanking down the path of Life in a suit of armor or stepping out of its prison and freely walking, skipping and dancing down the path.

It is courageous to contemplate the possibility that Life wouldn’t fall apart or explode in your face if you didn’t send your energy trying to control it. But the more you awaken, the less interested you are in controlling Life and the more interested you are in connecting with it, opening to its creative flow, which includes both the dark and the light of life. In that opening you discover that the safest and the most creative thing you can do is to loosen your grip on control–: Malley, M. (2013). What in the Way IS the Way  (p. 63). Kirkland, WA Awaken Publications;

Video Highlights about Fixing and Controlling Life

  • 7:50 What does it mean to be a control freak and being obsessed with fixing things? Mary describes that we sit in the meadow holding a fly swatter (swatting away things we don’t like) or butterfly catcher trying to acquire things we think we need.

Resources on Control:

How one Buddhist lives through letting go of control:


Fixing things

Everyone picks their poison. For some, it’s trying to control life. For others, it’s becoming obsessed with fixing things. This desire to fix things is rooted in a belief that that there is one “right” way of doing something. If we fail to do something the right way, then somehow we are wrong, unlovable, or alone. The antidote to both of these limiting beliefs is to get curious and to heal these thoughts with the presence of our heart (see next section).

Below is a passage from Mary’s book “What in the Way IS the Way” that explains how fixing things is really about covering up the hidden spells and beliefs that you are wrong, unlovable, or alone:

“ I am wrong” spell is in the world of shame. Every human being carries some level of self-judgment. It is called guilt and it can be a useful tool for maneuvering through Life. But within most human beings this voice has grown to enormous proportions, moving from the level of “I’ve done something wrong” to “I am wrong”. Usually subtly, but sometimes quite loudly, it compares you to some mythical idea of what you should be and then berates you for coming short of perfection.

Have you ever been afraid to tell a loved one the truth about a part of yourself because you were scared they wouldn’t like you? That is the “I am wrong” spell says, “I am not good enough, right enough, perfect enough to be loved…The reason this spell is so devastating is because you need connection in order to survive.

Deep inside, you understood that to please them (your parents) brought forth connection: to not please them meant pain. So you learned very early on to try to be the right kind of child (or to be alone)” p65

Mary O’ Malley describes one of the common ways our mind remains distracted and disconnected from life. She explains that we have a compulsion to create problems just so we can figure out how to fix them. When we try to fix things, we move into a place that manipulates the world to meet our expectations, or what O’Malley describes as the “problem factory of your mind”. While the mind’s compulsion for fixing may be quelled in the short-term, the mind inevitably comes up with other problems to solve creating a hamster wheel effect. Here’s what Mary says about our mind?

“ ..Even though you have been taught to believe that your mind is in charge of life, it is not designed for this. It is an exquisite tool for maneuvering through your life, but it is not supposed to be in charge of your life. Life is in charge of your life, and it does a lot better job than your mind does…

Giving your mind the task of being in charge of your life is like giving a child the keys to a car. Children are so small that even if they could get the car to move, they couldn’t see where they are going? That is what it is like to give your mind the task of being in charge of your life….

The truth is, Life isn’t under your control…. You can learn how to use your mind to be curious about Life than always trying to control it, and you can learn how to stop arguing with Life. One of the greatest joys of awakening is to realize that you don’t need to control life. The joy and freedom that you long for come from connecting with it”. P83.

Resources on Fixing things

How to love yourself

How to let go of perfectionism


How do we get back into the flow? (147)

Mary introduces the type of mindset and qualities that are helpful to get back into the flow of life. The mindset is to reframe challenges and discomfort from an unpleasant, avoidable experience, to one that brings opportunities to learn and grow. She describes below the following high-level process for getting back into the flow.

6 Steps to opening up to the Flow of life

There is wisdom in our body, emotions, and in the worry filled thoughts that fill our minds. Instead of denying those vulnerable parts, O’Malley suggests hearing them and giving them a voice. Let Life lead you by following the below six steps:

  • Recognize your emotions, thoughts
  • Give attention to these emotions and thoughts and ask life for clarity
  • Get curious with what you are experiencing
  • Acknowledge what you are experiencing
  • Listen to the world
  • Invite a new perspective to enter in.

Resources on Going with the flow




Living with the Discomfort of life

The key to going with the flow and letting life lead you is to be curious. Let go of judging and running away from the bad experiences that create these discomforts.

Mary reframes times of discomfort as times of treasures:

“How can you see discomfort in a new light so you have to tighten around it? If you step back and watch the unfolding of Life, you can see that it is made out of the opposites of dark and light, and darkness has gotten a bad rap. We are all heat-seeking missiles in search of comfort and pleasure and we mightily resist any discomfort….What if the treasures of Life that you long for are hidden within the places that you see as uncomfortable?… What would it be like to know that in the uncomfortable challenges of your life there is always a doorway into the light? In other words, your challenges are for you! They are not here because you have done something wrong, anyone else has done something wrong, or the Powers that Be fell asleep on the job! The uncomfortable challenges are the fuel for our awakening, and as soon as you can embrace the uncomfortable, a door opens inside of you” p 109

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao-Tzu

Body: How do we know that we are resisting life?

Often, life occurrences and the cues our body releases are signals that we are resisting life. Some of these telltale indicators include:

  • Compulsions
  • Illness
  • Pain
  • Finances
  • People

Video Highlights on how to live with challenge

  • 11:08 REAL LIFE SCENARIO: CJ describes a common scenario with young adults going to college and getting in an endless cycle of debt and feeling trapped by that debt.
  • 13:06 How do you deal with the unhelpful thoughts that arise when you are in a cycle of your fears and feeling trapped, depressed, etc?  Mary describes how these thoughts get us out of the flow of life. Mary explains how you can view challenges as ways to open up to our path.
  • 16:11 What is a way to reframe hardship? Mary explains how really hard times are needed to break through the thick walls of consciousness.
  • 17:51 What are the signals that we need in order to tune in? Compulsions, Illness, Pain, Finances, and People.
  • 18:36 How do you look and unhook? Mary talks about how you become aware of where you are tight and resisting.
  • 21:53 What are unhelpful beliefs we have about challenges? These challenges aren’t here b/c we have done something wrong, that others have wronged us, or because God is cursing you. These challenges are life’s way of asking for our attention so that we can get out of the maze of our minds (not by doing anything but seeing the maze).

Curiousity: Opening up to the Flow

O’ Malley suggests approaching life in a different way. Instead of trying to fix and control things, get curious and open up to what life has to offer. Establishing a connection with life allows it to  answer to the problems we harbor within us. She has found that accessing the wisdom of our body and parts of our psyche is often the easiest way to start listening to Life.

She describes why it’s so important to get curious and partner with your “wisdom self”:

“Asking for clarity from Life comes from knowing that you are not alone. You have a wisdom self within you that has been with you every step of the way. The more you access your wisdom self, the more you discover that you are not the one in charge of your healing. Life is in charge of Life and just as the forces of Life are working together to bring forth a peach (creation); they are slow working together in your life to bring you to consciousness.

It is amazing how most people, when faced with a challenge; totally forget that their wisdom self is there within them, waiting to be of assistance! (ask questions below) You can ask these when what is arising within you is too big to unhook from and you are caught in resistance, when it is unclear exactly what is going on, or when Life is moving too fast for you to take the time to turn your attention within and see what is going on.

The power of these questions is in the questions themselves. The signal Life that you are ready to listen to wisdom that comes from beyond your mind and that you are ready to see what you formerly resisted. Remember, whenever you ask these kinds of question, you set things in motion…” P151

Questions to contemplate

The book offers the following questions to ask your wisdom self.

  • What do I need to say/do/be is for my highest good?
  • What am I experiencing right now?
  • What is asking to be met here?
  • What am I ready to see?
  • What do I need to say or be in this situation?
  • What am I ready to see here?
  • What is the way through this?
  • How can I serve?
  • What am I?
  • What are my questions?

Video highlights: Use curiousity to get into the flow

  • 37:15 How can we allow our curiosity to move us from beneath the clouds of our misery and confusion? Mary explains how to get out of the prison of struggle by asking the questions to your wisdom self: What do I need to say/do/be is for my highest good? What am I experiencing right now? What is asking to be met here? What am I ready to see? What do I need to say or be in this situation? What am I ready to see here? What is the way through this? How can I serve? What am I? What are my questions?

Heart: Let your heart heal your Fears

The best way to conquer fear is through love. O’Malley enlightens that our heart knows the best way to embrace an experience as oppose to resisting it. She advises to start a dialogue with your heart. There are many ways to do this from using Heart Math to doing as Mary suggests which is simply placing your hand over your heart and breathing into it.

“ When you were young, your heart center was open.  Life was something you felt from your heart rather than something you thought about.  Rather than needing to control and resist, life was magical, fascinating and full of adventure.  But you had to shut down your heart.  IT wasn’t safe to keep it open for it was bruised and hurt by events and people in your life.  So you retreated into your head and locked the innocence and healing power of your heart deep inside of you.  This takes most of the joy of Life, and whether you recognize it or not, your deepest longing is to live from your heart again.  Your deepest longing is to open to Live, and it is in discovering (un-covering) your heart again that this becomes possible”. P122

Healing with the heart

  • Ask who is there? Love and embrace these fearful and scared parts of ourselves.
  • Allow those parts to be there and love them. Do not try to shove them out. Say to yourself “I see you. I am here. Let’s get to know each other”.
  • Open your heart and return back to the trust that Life is for you and it’s trustworthy.
  • Move to a place of gratitude.
  • Don’t try to make things happen or try to fix it. Just relate to your experience.

Video Highlights: Getting in the flow by healing with the HEart

  • 20:18 How to do what Mary calls the “YOU-turn”? Get curious about why things are tight in your body. Deep listening to this tightness helps relax it. Curiosity and Attention is key to letting go.
  • 21:41 Mary offers a Guided Meditation
  • 23:30 Why is the heart so important in creating this shift? The heart’s presence and attention can offer spaciousness, and compassion and loosen up the discursive thoughts we tend to carry around since childhood.
  • 26:30 Guided Heart meditation – How to bring the AWARE heart to the spells embedded in your head. How can your heart heal unhelpful thinking?
  • 33:32 Why is the mind less powerful than our hearts when it comes to healing? Mary explains that the mind has a desire to fix, change, rearrange, judge and control, but healing with the heart involves allowing, giving, and opening space (all is well).
  • 35:47 What are common misconceptions of what it means to have the heart lead? This doesn’t mean that you resign or get complacent but rather refrain from reacting in fear. Instead, respond in love when chaos hits. Spirit: How do we partner with our wisdom self (150)






Keywords: Presence, definition of surrender, How to surrender to God, Go with the flow, going with the flow, go with the flow meaning, living life fully






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