Have you ever been so engrossed in what you were doing that you totally lost track of time? Somehow entirely focused and yet so far away that it was almost like you weren't there at all. Time stood still but when you finally stepped away, hours had slipped by. The intensity and fervor with which you created poured out of you, almost divine in nature as your body became a vessel to channel an other worldly energy.
This peculiar and wonderful phenomena has been referred to as being in a "flow state" or "in the zone". For centuries humans have been cultivating practices to enter flow states but it was only recently, in 1975, that it was given its current name and studied by Hungarian-American psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. It is said that he became fascinated by artists who would get so lost in their creation that they lost all sense of themselves, to the point of forgetting to eat or sleep. Over the years Mihály has written hundreds of pieces on the subject and the pursuit of happiness. Check out his Ted Talk here.
There are so many ways to enter a flow state depending on what resonates with you but as far as I can tell, the common thread is that it leads to creation. Whether that be painting, singing, dancing, gardening, cooking, tantric sex, writing, coding or playing an instrument. The ways in are countless. Seeing someone in their flow is absolutely intoxicating, the energy flying out is palpable and their elation when they are done is contagious. I think finding that spark can be difficult for a lot of people, it took me years before I really fell into my groove. I have the distinct memory of being a child yearning to find something I loved doing and feeling the utmost frustration at feeling like I was passionless. Years later I had my first taste of what this ecstatic flow state could feel like when I truly started dancing. I had always danced but it didn't happen until I finally let go of the self-judgement and insecurities. Being exposed to communities that showed me freedom of self-expression shot me through the stratosphere and allowed me to finally sink into my body and lose myself. I can't tell you the amount of hours I have been blissed out and tunned in on a dancefloor. So many sweaty, happy memories were the needs and limitations of my body are forgotten. At the moment, I can't jog for more than 30 seconds without becoming breathless but get me dancing and I will be moving non stop for hours at a time without even noticing. Only to be aching the next day, possibly with a fractured knee and some missing toe nails. True story,....haha
My biggest dive into a flow state actually ended up coming through poi, not unpredictably considering this type of movement is often referred to as a 'flow art'. When I first started learning I would become so fixated on drilling new movements and learning how to move in new ways. I would come out hours later covered in bruises that I didn't really feel at the time of impact and aching shoulders. The best part has been that the more I learn the more easily I can move freely, feeling like they are an extension of my body and allowing me to melt deeper into the flow.
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