Jodi Thomas invited me to be a presenter for her telesummit to speak about my understanding of FLOW & SURRENDER, as well as observing ways to improve the overwhelm of ordinary life. During the call, I offered ways to enter a flow state. Sometimes we are lucky, and flow simply happens. At other times, we can help Flow along by providing the right circumstances and environment, both from the external world, and within ourselves.
Flow means: Being absorbed in the present moment; living in the now, while being at your best…. You become completely timeless; when you look at your watch, you are astonished to learn that two hours have gone by and you didn’t even notice the passage of time. Why? Because….you were fully engaged.
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, a mover and shaker in the Positive Psychology world, has done excellent research on flow. His definition of Flow is as follows:
FLOW is a Dynamic State that characterizes consciousness when experience is attended to for its own sake.
Flow occurs when action and awareness are merged, when nothing else exists, except for your experience. The result is: Peak Experience AND Peak Performance. Flow is about the and: I am enjoying myself and I am at my best. When they are in Flow, baseball players feel the ball coming at them in slow motion. The Zone is the same thing as Flow: being focused on one thing. In both Flow and the Zone, you focus on the one: be it writing the poem, hitting the ball, reading the book, dancing the dance, meditating in action.
My work, Let Your Yoga Dance, is based in dance and yoga, along with the energy centers of the body, the chakras. I entered a lovely flow state during the gorgeous blood moon last month. I happened to be listening to a song by James Taylor, "Walk Down that Lonesome Road." I had never heard that song before. The moon plays a role in the song, so I raced outside under the full moon, dancing with the music, watching the moon turning red! I played the song again and again until I had choreographed a dance prayer, which is part of the work I do in Let Your Yoga Dance. Dance Prayers enter the hour-long class during the 6th Chakra. I used that blood moon Dance Prayer the next day in my Let Your Yoga Dance retreat.
Here are some times when I am in Flow:
- Dancing outside in Nature
- Moving meditation
- Moving in Chi Gung: Chinese Yoga
- Hugging trees (or Koala Bears)
- Water dancing in a pool or lake
- Paddling about in the ocean
- Teaching or participating in Let Your Yoga Dance
- Training my Let Your Yoga Dance teachers-to-be
- Leading my gentle moving yoga, and meditation
Here are some times I am NOT in Flow
- Figuring out the wild world of marketing
- Spending too many hours on the computer
- Answering hundreds of emails every day
- Dealing on the phone with companies that put me on hold for 25 minutes
Until now, these areas have not been the least bit flowy for me. But because of my preparation for the Dance of Surrender interview, I have been experimenting with changing my spots! This is now a part of my work: how to create flow states when I am dealing with challenging aspects of my life! It is certainly not easy, if on overwhelm, to enter into a flow state.
How to get Flow on demand?
SIX WAYS to CREATE A FLOW ENVIRONMENT
- Intention and Dedication to being open to Flow is key. Attention must be paid! Creating Time for entering flow must be recognized. Even if we stop the to-do list for FIVE minutes, a mini-miracle can happen.
- Taking deep breaths. Great book to read: Three Deep Breaths by Thomas Crumb. He recommends taking 3 deep breaths before you do anything, even when you get to a red light. These breaths are a form of remedial action, a mini-recovery, creating an upward spiral of wellbeing.
- To release overwhelm, we need to slow down, and do LESS rather than more. We need to stop multi-tasking so much. A logical way to learn to do less multi-tasking is to meditate – even for a few minutes! The gift of meditation teaches us not only how to become one pointed and focused, it also points out whenever we are NOT present, one pointed, and focused….
To release overwhelm: Create and recreate Heartfelt Positivity, as Barbara Fredrickson teaches in her book Positivity, ie: perhaps thinking of loved ones with all your heart and one-pointed focus. And Sonja Lubyrmyrsky in her great book, The How of Happiness shares research on Gratitude practice through journal writing or speaking with another. She recommends:
- Counting your blessings
- Savoring and Appreciating your life as it happens
- Being Thankful for everything, even the wonder of being alive.
- Get outside in Mother Nature as much as humanly possible. Late at night if it starts to pour rain, I often will grab a slicker – or not – and go for a little walk, getting totally drenched. I teach outside whenever possible. If I have a choice between indoors and outdoors, outdoors always wins.
- Let Your Yoga Dance whenever you can – even if it is just ONE song, or dancing with the wind as your music.
Summary of the Six Ways to Initiate Flow
- Create time for yourself and start slowing down.
- Breathe – and breathe again – consciously – Three Deep Breaths by Thomas Crum
- Practice doing less and being more
- Practice Gratitude - Savor, appreciate; The How of Happiness – Sonja Lyubyrmirsky
- Get out in Nature
- Let Your Yoga Dance, play with moving yoga
A 3-Minute Meditation Practice on Stopping the Mind
I learned the following meditation practice from the Buddhist monk: Yongey Mingyur Rimpoche. For me, spiritual grump and contrarian that I am, it brought me immediately into a moment of flow! I call this the Distraction Meditation. I think it is very amusing. Maybe it will bring you into a flow state too! Read the directions below, and then close your eyes and follow them.
Please close your eyes. Instead of focusing on the breath, don’t. Instead of bringing your attention to one pointed focus, don’t. Instead of observing the air as it enters the tip of the nostrils and the area above the upper lip, just begin to get distracted. If you are focusing on the breath, stop it at once. Let your mind wander around the room. The whole point of this meditation is to be distracted as humanly possible. Take two minutes now in the silence of this distracted meditation. I will tell you when it is time to get even more distracted…..
I hope you enjoyed that funny distraction meditation.
Another practice is a simple meditation on the breath with flowing movements.
Before closing your eyes, just read, then follow, these directions:
You can sit or stand.
This is a moving meditation involving the arms and the breath, similar to Chinese Yoga, Chi Gung….. Inhale, lifting the arms out in front of you to heart level, then Flow the arms back down to the earth. Slowly inhaling and lifting the arms up to heart level, then pressing the hand back into the earth. Meditation in Motion. Move your meditation. Go as slowly as you can. Move with any variations you wish, Find your own Flow…..
Explore this chinese yoga for 3 minutes.
Being in FLOW requires no energy because the PRANA, the energy is flowing all on its own.
Being in Flow is the most optimal state in which to be, because we are in GRACE.
Being in Flow takes no will on our part. It is bliss!