What is Flow? How do we get into a state of flow at will?
Have you watched an athlete play and been amazed at the ease and grace with which he moves? It seems so easy, natural, efficient, and just right. There is no hesitation in action. There doesn’t seem to be anyone deciding anything; action arises mutually with circumstance.
Athletes call this being in “The Zone.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (whose name is just slightly less unpronounceable than mine) first researched this this phenomenon and coined the word “flow.” He points out flow is happiness.
Flow is the Zone, Grace, and being in the Now.
I’m sure you have experienced this state. Perhaps while you were playing a sport or playing music or making love or enchanted with beauty or deeply absorbed in an activity you enjoy or for no seeming reason at all. Most of us have experienced flow, and we mistakenly believe that this is a temporary and rare state which came about because of some activity or event.
Flow is not elusive at all. And it has nothing to do with what you’re doing. It has nothing to do with the external world. Flow is simply being in the Now, and getting out of the way.
When in flow, there is no thinking going on. If thinking happens, it is incidental and not relevant. There is no sense of time. There is only deep presence and action is not deliberate. Action just happens. There is no doer. There is no anxiety. There is no future. There is no past. There is Now. There is being. There is no “me.” There is no mind. There is no hesitation. There is no deciding. There is rightness.
Flow is awakening. Flow is natural being.
In his book “Flow”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says it is possible to access flow for particular activities. What you need are:
1) Highly developed skills and practice for that activity. The skill must exceed the demand of the activity, so you are relaxed and confident, and you don’t need to think about what you do.
2) The activity must be challenging enough so you don’t get bored.
3) The activity must have rules.
4) The activity must have feedback. There must be an action-reaction dynamic.
What is an activity that we are all highly practiced at, which can be highly challenging, not boring, has rules, and the action-reaction feedback?
That activity is existing. Life. Living. Being.
And living can be in flow all the time.
When you can remember again how to release, be here and now, let go of clinging to thoughts and concepts and beliefs, let go effort and struggle, and be the gentle, unoccupied, constant, choiceless awareness which you already are, and learn to get out of the way, you are living in flow. This is happiness.
Your turn. What is an activity where you feel completely at ease and you are deeply in the Now?