FLOW (I): What is The Flow Experience?
Welcome to this Creative Exploration of The Flow Experience!
I’ve been enjoying this format of 3-Essay Series, so when I thought of a new one after I wrote and published Creativity Unleashed, Flow just came up wanting to be written about. So here it is, a new 3-Essay Series about The Flow Experience.
What is The Flow Experience?
A few years ago, I found the awe-inspiring, monumental work The Encyclopedia of Religion, coordinated by Mircea Eliade, a writer I’ve been fascinated with ever since I discovered his work back in my early life. Inside one of the volumes, I read about The Flow Experience. Here is a quote from the segment describing this state:
The flow experience is characterized by the following phenomenological dimensions:
1. a narrowing of the focus of consciousness on a clearly delimited stimulus field;
2. exclusion from one’s awareness of irrelevant immediate stimuli, memories of past events, and contemplation of the future; hence a focusing on the unfolding present;
3. merging of action and awareness, also described as absence of doubt and critical reflection about one’s current activity;
4. awareness of clear goals and unambiguous feedback, so one knows one’s standing with reference to the goals;
5. lack of concern regarding one’s ability to control the situation;
6. loss of self-consciousness, which in turn may lead to a sense of transcendence of ego boundaries and of union with a larger, transpersonal system.
When these conditions are present in consciousness, the experience is usually interpreted by the individual as being enjoyable and autotelic (worth seeking for its own sake). Activities available in everyday life form a continuum in terms of their capacity to induce flow. At the lowest level are “microflow” activities such as doodling, pacing, or smoking, which provide fleeting experiences of ordered existence. At the other extreme are “deep flow” activities that provide relatively lasting and totally absorbing experiences, as in creative endeavors, complex symbolic or religious thought, or the heights of physical performance. (Mircea Eliade Editor In Chief, 1987 : 362)
It’s quite a long quote as you can see, yet it’s so good! And it describes this particular state of consciousness so well. This is how The Encyclopedia of Religion describes The Flow Experience.
The Flow Experience Through My Eyes
I’ve experienced The Flow state many times in my Life, though it is only in recent years when I realized this state even has a name.
For example, Walking El Camino de Santiago felt like a 900km Flow Experience, that connected me to my body and heart on a whole new level.
I also feel I am in The Flow Zone when I create. I flow when my Being wants to express itself through writing or painting or dancing. Sometimes I feel I enter a trance-like state while I write a poem, and when I come back to it, I even wonder, did I write that? It’s fascinating indeed.
What’s even more fascinating is that once we are aware that The Flow Experience is real, and we learn how to consciously access it in our daily lives, we can create our Life with more vitality and zest. We bring our Creations in the World with more ease and confidence. We find our joie de vivre every day. And we live with more Light. We live with more Love.
This being said, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this first part about The Flow Experience! I hope it has brought you new insights and it has helped you in your Creative Journey. I’m looking forward to hearing from you about how you experience The Flow. You can always let me know in the comments below.