Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Get in The Flow

Have you ever just been in a flow before?

Like a time when everything was just happening so smoothly, with out effort. a time where everything in your life was just clicking and going right for you, like the universe was simply responding to all of your thoughts and desires, with no effort on your part. Maybe that time is a time like today, maybe a time like right now.

Have you ever been in a space where you knew something amazing was about to happen? Like massive excitement and abundance was right on the horizon. Maybe you felt like all of your desires were manifest. Maybe you felt like you were full of love and one with all of existence.

Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever just known, with out knowing how or why, that today was the day. That today was the best day of your life, perhaps like the day when all your synchronicities lined up, and your life was filled with magic, wonderment, amazement, love, and abundance. Have you ever felt this excitement?

Maybe on a day like today you did.

Maybe a moment similar to this, you just knew sometime amazing was happening, that all of your dreams, thoughts, and wishes, were waiting for you.

Maybe you felt like a child again, full of joy, wonder, excitement, and love.

Have you ever felt like this before?

Maybe on a day like today?

Maybe in a moment like right now?

We have all had experiences where we were just on it. Everything was happening just as we wanted it to, seemingly with out any effort at all. This phenomenon is called “being in the flow.”

We can look at the great athletes and the great musicians of history to illustrate what I am talking about.

Use Michael Jordan for example. When he was in his prime, he would routinely achieve impossible feats. To observers, it seemed as though he did effortlessly. He was able to achieve such things because he was in the flow.

What is “the flow?”

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields (Wikipedia).

Other terms for this or similar mental states include: to be on the ball, in the zone, or in the groove.

The following usually accompany an experience of flow:

• Concentrating and focusing: a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).

• A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness: the merging of action and awareness.

• Distorted sense of time: one's subjective experience of time is altered.

• Direct and immediate feedback: successes and failures in the course of the
activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed.

• Balance between ability level and challenge: the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult.

• A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.

• The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.

• Action awareness merging: People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself.

Why is this state of being important?

Simply put, it is important because being in this state makes life easier and more enjoyable.

I mean, just imagine a life with out struggle, effort, or strife?
Imagine always being in the right place at the right time.

I think that young children are often naturally in this state, which is part of the reason why most people have fond memories of their younger years. As time progresses, something changes and we lose that sense of being. I think this is caused by two very interrelated things.

The first one being when we are very young, we do not have a defined sense of ego. We have not yet formed the clear distinctions of self and other, of inner and outer, and of mine and yours.

The second cause relates to the balance of our brain hemispheres. I think that children spend more time in their right brains being creative, playing, day-dreaming, and using their imagination.

In school they begin to use their left brain much more for things of a more linear and less imaginative nature. Children are taught to memorize, regurgitate, and conform, more so than they are encouraged to use their creativity and imagination.

These two things lay the foundation for a life which is more left brain dominated, much more egocentric, and much more linear. These things combined with the usual stresses and rigors of modern living generally decrease the sense of flow that we are talking about.

Another reason being in the flow is important is because this is, essentially, what all spiritual practices aim for. These practices are tools are used to help the individual get their consciousness back to way it was when they were a child.

This is why Taoism is full of so many sayings that talk about becoming like a child again.

This is why so many spiritual practices focus on dissolving the dualistic definitions and distinctions that we have learned.

For millennia, practitioners of Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism have honed the discipline of overcoming the duality of self and object as a central feature of spiritual development.

Eastern spiritual practitioners have developed a very thorough and holistic set of theories around overcoming duality of self and object, tested and refined through spiritual practice instead of the systematic rigor and controls of modern science.

The phrase "being at one with things" is a metaphor for the flow concept. Practitioners of the varied schools of Zen Buddhism apply concepts similar to the flow to aid their mastery of art forms.

The objective here is diminishing the ego and getting back into the right brain, in other words, getting back into the flow.

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