Day 10: The Joy of Flow.
You’ve got your magic toolkit, you’ve playfully set an inspired intention and you are actively loving your life. The stage is set for the next phase of this magic challenge, which i am choosing to call Enter the Flow.
It’s a bit like “going with the flow” except I want you to see it as a metaphoric river that you can consciously choose to enter–or not. Because all forms of magic–from synchronicity to precognition to spontaneous healing—happen only when when we are in that flow river, or what some people call the zone.
Flow is not a woo-woo concept. Flow has been identified as a peak performance state for athletes, artists and scientists. The term was first used by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi to identify this way of being at one with an activity to the point of complete absorption. But it’s not just about mental focus.
From Wickipedia: “The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task, although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.”
It’s also that state where time seems to either speed up or dramatically slow down. And where you are most available for the magic of your own being to show up. In my life, as a writer, I call it being wide open to the muse.
In my daily life, flow shows up in sweet simple ways: the parking spot when i need it; arriving at a destination against all odds, on time (I had one occasion where every traffic light was green for a drive that should have taken an hour and took 40 minutes instead); thinking I need to call someone or make an appointment and that person calls me first; and even something going “wrong” that reveals itself as right—such as getting lost on a trip and finding out that getting turned around was a good thing. (see video below).
When you are in flow, you know it. When you are not, you know it. Flow feels good! Things feel easy, you feel light and there is a sort of glow about life when you enter the flow.
When you are out the flow river, commonly you feel irritable, grumpy, impatient, frustrated and even angry. Being on the banks of the flow river is just not a fun place to be.
How to enter the flow consciously if you know you are out of it?
You can try this technique, which I find works quite well. (Taken from a sweet article at msmindfulness.com).
Step 1. Before you begin the activity, pause, then take three deep slow conscious breaths. Let the mind be fully engaged in the breath for that time and nothing else.
Step 2. Focus all of your attention in the present moment. Pretend for the moment that past and future do not exist. Take awareness to your sense perceptions. Be fully present in the now.
Step 3. Slowly, with deliberate movements, go about your activity. Make it into a meditative practice but with an intensity of focus.
Step 4. Remain alert and keep the mind fully attentive to what you are doing in that moment only– not allowing it to slip off into unconscious mind chatter. Be completely absorbed in the activity as if you had just been born into this world. You will find that the activity ‘comes alive’ when you practice it with mindfulness. If your mind does slip off into ‘autopilot’ simply guide it back to being intensely engaged in what your doing.
Or a shortcut that works just as well when you realize you are really out of the flow river? I call it a “stop the presses” moment where I make a declaration to myself to stop and reset.
Sometimes I reset with a simple acknowledgement that I am out of the flow. Other times it takes a symbolic act, such as taking a self-imposed “time out” by lying down, or going into a repose at my desk. Or in my car, pulling over to the side of the road and saying to myself, Okay, let’s start again.
Being attentive is the key. When life feels like a series of roadblocks, you are out the flow river. It’s that simple. And all you have to do is choose to jump back in. Or not…but hey, being in that river is a heck of a lot more enjoyable.
Now, here is that video where being in the river of flow meant getting lost. So don’t forget — don’t judge things in the moment as right or wrong. Instead wait to see how that moment unfolds. Is it taking you somewhere wonderful? If you are in the flow, it most certainly is.
PS: Want to share your magic stories with others taking this challenge? We have a private FB group HERE.
PPS: And if you prefer to get these daily assignments directly to your email box, just click here.