Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
The intensity of the flow experience is one we all recognize as a creative one that goes beyond everyday consciousness. One reference is being “in the zone”. Csikszentmihalyi lists conditions necessary for the occurrence and continuation of flow experience:
- clear goals and feedback;
- balance between challenges and skills;
- action and awareness merged;
- concentration on task;
- sense of potential control;
- loss of self-consciousness;
- altered sense of time;
- autotelic (self-rewarding) experience.
The Hustler – Being in the flow state
Here’s a move clip circa 1961 with Paul Newman talking about being in the flow state.
Tony posted a video of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in a TED talk explaining his studies about the roots of happiness and the concept of flow for which he is famous.
‘What makes human beings happy?’ Is the question he was looking for an answer to. Flow is his answer to the question
In our normal experience he looked at where we feel really happy. “Ecstacy in Greek meant to stand to the side of something. A step into an alternative reality. Such an intense experience that it feels like you don’t exist.” When you are in a state of flow, you are able to face high challenges using a high level of skills.
The entire concept of flow is really intriguing, at least to me. What do you think?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity, fulfillment and flow
In Buddhism, there is a form of meditation called samatha bhavana, which can lead to blissful states, like flow. In ‘samatha’ the mind becomes like a still, clear pool completely free from disturbance and anger, and ready to mirror on its surface the nature of things as they really are, m which is hidden from ordinary knowledge by the restlessness of desire and craving. You meditate until you attain jhana. Jhana is a meditative state of profound stillness and concentration in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object of attention. It is the cornerstone in the development of right concentration.
Csikszentmihalyi illustrates that creativity is the central source of meaning in our lives and for better or for worse the planet’s future is closely tied to human creativity. Our capacity for being in the flow and ability to face higher challenges and succeed in what we do will in large part directly affect the planet’s future. – Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.
No matter what walk of life we are in or what we may find ourselves completely absorbed in – we may be enjoying a flow experience. What do you think about flow?