By Stephen Sloan, Pathwise Member and Content Contributor
I was not in a flow state, I was eating lunch; chewing and staring at a few words about flow I’d jotted on paper. Chewing, chewing, waiting for inspiration.
Which would be more engaging; an article on the concept of flow or one on a method to attain flow? Could I write this post as a dialogue? Could I link the method and the content that emerged from the flow state?
I was intrigued by the possibilities of a dialogue between flow method and content.
Below, you will see that I built this dialogue post table form; on the left will be notes on my methodological sequence while on the right is the resulting content that explains flow and how you can use it to your own benefit.
With any luck, if you follow steps like those on the left you will likely enjoy the benefits of a flow state as explained on the right. I am curious about your experiences.
|A Curious Method of Attaining Flow||Thoughts on Flow & its Uses|
|From my luncheon-focused state, I felt the need to…
I ask myself, “How can I create a flow state right now to assist my writing process?”
|That question leads me to ask, “What, exactly, is a flow state?”As defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the book, Flow, it is a “mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.”|
|I think, “OK, but why do I care about doing this?”
I asked myself a why question to align my desire to attain flow in this work process with my higher values.
To do this, I inquire into the nature of flow by asking what is the nature of NOT flow?
What is my lack of flow experiences costing me in productivity, creativity and joie de vivre?
What is the cost of missing a chance for a bit of brilliance each day?
|The reverse of flow is agitated distraction, which seems like:– Reactivity rather than proactivity
|Discover a Way In
I ask, “Given that I now want what flow offers, can I find a way to immerse myself in my topic as a precursor to attaining the flow state?”
How can I engage with the web of ideas that flow contains and implies?
I begin to ask questions that tease the topic into its constituent elements (the Cartesian Method of breaking complex things into their elemental parts for analysis before resynthesizing them into a more completely understood whole.)
|How is flow state attained?Flow is best attained when:
What are its parts?
How do the parts relate?
What are the dynamic tensions within flow?
I ask how I can now move into the flow state and stay there?
|How to move into flow
How to sustain flow
I ask myself, “How can I go even deeper into the flow state?
|Share the Riches
To add substance and motivation to my pursuit of flow, I ask myself questions about how I can make my work relevant to others.
|How can I connect readers to what I find or experience in the flow state?
What fresh ideas can I identify here?
What can we do with what we have just learned?
How do we bring this back into the realm of practical application?
As the flow state fades, I acknowledge the joys and learnings I have just gained.
Sometimes, I will journal after attaining a flow state to crystallize and cement the learnings and positive experiences.
|I find that I am more deeply satisfied and inspired by work I produce in flow states|
In creating this post, I got to experience two sessions of flow. First, the idea for the method and content form came to me and I outlined the flow of ideas over lunch. The method worked to pull me into a flow state.Then, several days later, I returned to type up the piece and I enjoyed a long session generating the content you have just reviewed while listening to music* that engages my very distractible mind.
I hope that this unusual format has engaged you in a flow state even as you read it by presenting a clear but uniquely challenging way to address the topic.May you find your way into flow with increasingly joyful and fruitful results,