What is flow? For someone whose primary job description involves the words “fluid dynamics”, the concept and theory ought to be fairly straightforward. However, what is easily defined in engineering terms is not so straightforward in spiritual terms. Or is it?
In his 1990 book simply titled “Flow”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi subtitled the book – “the psychology of optimal experience”. The author’s research on what brought people a sense of joy and why, what was it that enhanced the quality of their lives, led him to develop o theory of optimal life flow:
it is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at a great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it – Mihaly C. Flow
So, what is it that makes one activity more enjoyable than another for you? What type of activities – sports, games, hobbies, and such – put you in a state of flow, of pure joy? How do we make our jobs, our businesses, and all the relationships that we are part of, flow better?
There is a certain level of awareness, of consciousness that is associated with our experience of being in a state of flow. World-class athletes are often said to be “in the zone” when they are performing at the peak of their abilities. The same can be said for a Carnegie hall violinist in full flight. One may imagine that some of the world’s greatest works of music, literature, art and sculpture were created in a state of full flow – a state where the work was creating an optimal experience for the creator.
Life is often a mix of optimal, joyous experiences and many sub-optimal experiences that bring adversity and tragedy, often accompanied by much pain. How may we maintain our inner state of flow in the midst of external adversity? The state of our inner flow is defined by our spiritual attitude and refined by adversity. It is a state in which there is “order in our consciousness”. When adversity disturbs our inner order, we get an opportunity to discover new states of flow.
The extent to which we can be in flow will depend on our state of inner preparation, which depends on our commitment to spiritual practice. When our heart is in a state of freedom from the mind’s random fluctuations, a dynamic inner flow is achieved. We can then feel in control of our inner life, its direction, and enjoy the flow. Is there a better way to enhance the quality of our life, to have an optimal experience?
P.S. Please join us for our weekly twitter conversation in #SpiritChat – Sunday, June 10th at 9amET / 630pm India. We shall ask and answer some questions about Flow, and I am excited to see what unfolds. Namaste.
The Rocky River – in full flow…