My initial introduction to Flow was through reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Perhaps I had flowed before reading “Work as Flow”, but I believe that his publication was the first time that I was able to tie my previous experiences with a term and definition. Maybe I was able to connect more closely with a concept he mentioned called “Yu”. He states that it is the “proper way to live–without concern for external rewards, spontaneously, with total commitment” He continues to describe Yu with the example of a cook who appears to effortlessly and gracefully butcher and ox. There is a quote in his story which jumped out to me. It read, “Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants”. For me, I like to think of flow as a sort of transcendental state when a person or people have been able to merge the right amount of action and thought to create results with relative ease.
There are a few types of actions that I have experienced personally that I would describe as flow. One example, is hitting a baseball on the sweet spot of the bat. A person has to combine the right amount of thought and action to do this. You can not spend too much time thinking or you will swing late. You can not act to briskly or errant; else, you will be too early to hit the pitch proper. However, when the right amount of thought and action are merged together into a swing the feeling is hard to describe at that moment when the ball connects with the bat right on the sweet spot. For a brief moment ENERGY feels to be leaving you and entering at the same time; then, the ball just launches. I guess that words don’t really do flow justice; unless, you are capable of flowing through your writing.
Another example of flow would be performing a stunt. For me it would be something as simple as just jumping over a gap, possibly, at a large height. There is an element of fear that can cause your thoughts to race. If you allow your fear to take hold of you will think too much, and you won’t be able to act sufficiently to clear the gap. You may stumble, jump at the wrong time, or your legs may actually weaken. You will probably get hurt really bad. However, if you tamper your thoughts and fear, it allows your actions to take over and clear the gap. You have transcended the initial fear and expectations.
In summary, I believe that the major components which equate to flow are a “letting loose” (a trust), an exchange of energy, and finally, experiencing a success.
I hope to be able to learn and share more about flow through this site. I want to be able to strengthen my ability to achieve flow in more areas of life, and at the same time, help others build their ability to flow.