Wednesday, February 20, 2008

State of Flow

The psychological concept of Flow is a state of being in which people are able to perform beyond a conscious level. Before you begin to think this is some sort of paranormal concept, consider a few examples.

Athletes constantly speak of trying to “be in the zone.” In this condition they are able to perform activities instinctively, they “react reflexively” more than “act attentively.”

Musicians also experience this when they begin to play without really thinking about the individual notes or chords. In an ensemble (especially in contemporary music or jazz) they speak of being in a “groove” when the whole group achieves this state together.

Video Game programmers speak of designing their games with a state of flow in mind for the player as their goal. People play the games pursuing this level flow, where they begin to fell less like they are playing an electronic device and feel as if they are actually within the environment of the game.

The psychologist who initially described this concept admitted that it was nothing new. Eastern religions have pursued this state for ages: the idea of being “one” with everything etc. However, while the eastern idea of Flow involves emptying the mind to achieve this feeling, the practical examples listed about all involve mental activity. Yes discipline and practice are repeated until the performance is beyond active thought, but emptying the mind is not needed.

Another area where some people achieve Flow is in reading. Some people describe the act of reading fiction as ceasing to be reading. They actually visualize what they are reading to the point that they cease to consciously see worlds and mentally live in the world they are reading about. This is anything but a mindless activity.

Where does the state of Flow fit into true spiritual meditation?

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