Being in Flow
The third type of happiness we will discuss is linked to the phenomena of “flow.” When a person enters into the state of flow, all senses of self and time are lost. A person may be locked away, working for days and not realize the days have gone by. Flow is often thought in modern psychology to be a byproduct of any well-developed skill set that is used to work through (often self-set) challenges. In this view, the skill set that is necessary is based upon a level of mastery in that activity. Flow is the side effect of mastery as it answers challenges from life, or challenges that are self-set.
Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow.
1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
2. Merging of action and awareness
3. A loss of reflective self consciousness
4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
5. A distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
6. Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience
Those aspects can appear independently of each other, but only in combination do they constitute a so-called flow experience.
Additionally, psychology expert, Kendra Cherry, has mentioned three other components that Csíkszentmihályi lists as being a part of the flow experience:
1. “Immediate feedback”
2. Feeling that you have the potential to succeed
3. Feeling so engrossed in the experience, that other needs become negligible
Just as with the conditions listed above, these conditions can be independent of one another.
Dr. Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi in his book entitled “Flow”, states that it takes at least ten years of focused skill development to reach the level of mastery and that this is required to experience flow (in relation to that activity). Most people do not choose to put in ten or more years to develop a skill set that is sufficient to experience this form of happiness.
From the Siddhi Yogic point of view, there are other ways which do not require a set of skills developed in the world to access flow. It is not the skill set itself that matters. It is the understanding of the inherent nature of flow and an understanding of what prevents it that is key to being in flow.
These two essential factors summarize this:
1. The elimination of automatic thinking patterns that are negating, judgemental, negatively or positively projective, or that are critical or cynical. These in effect are all reasons for not being open or receptive to being in flow with life energies. This can not be evaded by temporarily being in a good mood. A change in consciousness, in other words life view, is needed.
2. Not just living in the present moment, but living in the mind of being in presence.
When a person is preparing their mind and heart for the level of becoming an energy fluent practitioner, one uses the siddhi meditative way of mindful-absorption as the base. This is also a shorter path to learning to live from happiness. That is why developing siddhi meditation is so important. This practise creates a solid ground from which all other development in siddhis flourishes. In learning the essential mind strength, much like starting to learn to meditate, one recognizes how much distraction mindedness there is. In meditation it is self-talk dialogue. In developing mind strength, it is distractions of focus. Instead of resisting those thoughts or distractions of focus, one ignores the distracting intrusions and gently realigns focus back to being present.
Being present attentively with interest is purposely cultivated as a path. Next one works on being in the state of presence (the feeling awareness of being present). From here greater depths of both mind strength and happiness are possible.
Next post: other ways of entering flow and the preliminary practices for living in presence.