Practicing mindfulness has proven health benefits but what if it could be the doorway into a whole new way of being, one that invites profound and lasting change?
What if, in a world that constantly pushes us toward the horizon, we were able to fully focus and immerse ourselves in the moment, here and now? What if this ability, and the subsequent experience, was accessible to everyone? And what if this changes how we experience our world? If this interests you, allow me to introduce you to Flow – a state of consciousness where time melts away and life unfolds with ease, a state where you are fully immersed in moments of effortless doing.
You might be asking yourself what exactly is Flow? Quite often referred to as moments of “optimal experience”, many of us have encountered Flow quite by accident and afterwards don’t recall how we entered it, simply slipping into this state without the realization of how it occurred. Alternatively, we may experience an episode of Flow without attaching a label to it and be completely unaware of it as another level of consciousness. Many times, these incidents are overlooked or dismissed, especially the more subtle ones. Remembering back to a time when you were at your best is a good way to explore the nature of Flow. Whether it was during a physical feat requiring skill and precision, giving a high-level presentation, or engaging in an activity that absorbed all your attention, the common denominator would be a sense of effortless doing. There isn’t a cognitive thought process occurring during these moments, just a seamless unfolding of events in which we reach a high level of coherence with our environment. The result is a fluid expression of reality in which the moving parts of our internal and external experience are flawlessly orchestrated into a finely tuned symphony. The profound satisfaction that generally accompanies this state also seems to be rooted in a deep harmonious sense of unity.
Most easily understood examples of Flow are when we talk about athletes being “in the zone.” When individuals experience complete involvement in an activity their focused attention produces deep engagement, immense fulfillment, and superior performance. These incidents are also occasions of extreme present-moment awareness, which brings us to the recognition that a high degree of presence is essential to being in Flow. In order to operate within the realm of our own enhanced consciousness, it is critical to engage all the senses through physical embodiment. The body’s inherent wisdom enables us to connect to a broader field of conscious energy and glean important information from our surroundings. The result is a more desirable outcome through the engagement of these additional resources. Our degree of presence is directly proportionate to our aptitude for entering Flow, and so the natural conclusion is that the principles of mindfulness are a fundamental bridge to “optimal experience.”
While in the Flow state we perceive the experience of time differently and time as we know it seems to be removed from the equation. It is in these moments where we are so focused on an activity or event that the “self” recedes into the background, and we connect to an awareness that is much greater than ourselves. An extreme example of this is when people report that “time stood still” during a life or death situation. They aren’t wrong and they were, in fact, experiencing time differently. When we are facing a life-threatening event we are pushed into acute present-moment awareness as our instincts kick in, and crowded out of our awareness is everything but the essentials for surviving. While the self is temporarily suspended, we experience the full engagement of all our senses and tap into a vast universal field of intelligence. The result is an expression of reality in which the outcome is shaped by these additional resources. In a catastrophic event this can be life-saving, but even in our daily lives there is a richness to be had that is often missed because so many of us remain cut off from these all-important cues.
Not only has Flow, as a concept, existed in ancient ideologies; but it is also a valuable tool for navigating the 21st century. Mindfulness, as it turns out, proves to be a powerful catalyst for entering Flow. Through cultivating a connection between our body and mind, and surrendering to our environment, we can enter prolonged periods of Flow, and increase our potential as humans.
Living in Flow: The Key to Unlocking Your Greatest Potential, is a book about this dynamic state of consciousness and how we can harness it to live with greater ease and harmony. The book interprets decades of research that have led to a paradigm shift in physics, medicine, and human biology. It also investigates how to cultivate Flow through the power of our own intent, and more easily access its beneficial effects in daily life through mindfulness practices.