Mindfulness – Flow

Mindfulness – Flow

Flow refers to a state of being where we’re fully absorbed in the moment, to the point where everything else seems to fall away, including, even, our sense of self. And that’s a very enjoyable state to be in. You know, there’s many moments where people do enter a state of flow quite naturally. As evidenced by that saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” You know, we can probably think of many instances when that happens. Good musicians enter a state of flow where they just completely let go, and they find that the music is just sort of flowing out. Certainly mindfulness practices, meditation, can induce that state of flow. But also, you know, dance, contemporary dance. Cultural forms of dance, I imagine, would induce flow. So things like kapa haka. You know, if you really sat down and talked to people involved in kapa haka and talked to them about their experience, through that lens of looking for the characteristics of flow, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that that state is often activated. I think if you want to achieve flow, a good starting point is to practice mindfulness. And then see what happens, really. I mean, these things can’t be forced, in a way. And you’ll find that you’re just sort of dropping into the moment. Self-consciousness kind of falls away, and there’s just an engagement, a real, true, engagement, with the here and now. Every culture has many traditional and ritual practices that I think probably do induce flow. I’m not sure that you do need to be an expert. It tends to occur most frequently at a point where there is a bit of challenge to the activity, but it’s not too difficult. So there’s challenge, but you can still do it, it’s just that maybe the master’s punching a bit further above their weight than you are as a novice. But that’s one of the… that’s kind of been identified as the ideal point where people… or the most consistent point where people enter flow. I think everyone can achieve flow, and I think everyone probably has had the experience of achieving flow, they just don’t know it. But again, that saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” And pretty much when you say that, people probably can recall times when that happened. And I think probably children, actually, achieve flow quite regularly [laughs]. Where the world falls away, and they’re just completely engaged in the activity at hand.

4 thoughts on “Mindfulness – Flow

  1. What Mindfulness and Flow REALLY are

    The covert or involuntary musculature is activated (that is, we become tense) because of perseverative cognition (rumination, distraction, worry), when one considers difficult or incompatible choices in the future. Being in the moment, which is achieved through mindful or focal meditation, eliminates these causes and results in the relaxation or inactivation of these muscular groups. Relaxation activates mid brain opioid systems and is felt as pleasure.
    The overt or voluntary musculature however can be activated while the covert musculature is inactive, as we can walk, talk, or chop wood while being relaxed. It is also true that non-perseverative thought does not disturb a resting state and can even enhance its affective properties. Specifically, thinking or doing productive or meaningful tasks elicit the activity of mid-brain dopamine systems, which in turn stimulate opioid systems (the neurons for both systems are in the same area of the midbrain). Dopamine also scales the with the relevance or salience of meaningful behavior. If we are relaxed and are engaging in highly salient behavior, the resulting spike in attentive arousal and pleasure is called a ‘flow’ experience.
    All of the observations can be demonstrated procedurally and with ease by anyone.
    My argument simply states that relaxation can occur not only in the presence of moments of inactivity represented by meditation but can and should be an element of every hour of our working day. And again, the proof is in the procedure.
    For a more detailed explanation see pp.47-52, 82-86 on the linked little book (written for a lay audience) on the psychology of rest.

    The Psychology of Rest

    Meditation and Rest
    from the International Journal of Stress Management, by this author

    Holmes Article on Rest

    and at web site doctormezmer.com if you do not mind a little irony with your psychology

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