Welcome to the Soul Wisdom Therapy newsletter!
Flowing in the Zone
Have you experienced the "flow state?" Or to put it differently, have you ever felt you've been in the "zone" when immersed in an activity?
is a remarkable mental and physical phenomenon that manifests in a variety of contexts. The term was coined by researcher
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology. He described 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."
Flow has been studied in education, sports, the workplace, music, art -- even video gaming!
In his research, Csíkszentmihályi identified ten psychological markers indicating the experience of flow.
- Clear goals that, while challenging, are still attainable
- Strong concentration and focused attention
- The activity is intrinsically rewarding
- Feelings of serenity; a loss of feelings of self-consciousness
- Timelessness; a distorted sense of time; feeling so focused on the present that you lose track of time passing
- Immediate feedback
- Knowing that the task is doable; a balance between skill level and the challenge presented
- Feelings of personal control over the situation and the outcome
- Lack of awareness of physical needs
- Complete focus on the activity itself
So flow happens when you're engaged in an activity that is challenging and which requires your highest skill level. It's important that there are no distractions so that you can concentrate solely on the one activity at hand. Allow a sufficient amount of time (at least 30 minutes) and stay with the task until it's finished.
The aspect of flow that interests me the most is its role in spirituality. The flow state is said to be similar, if not identical, to that achieved by the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness (the focusing of attention on what is happening in the present moment, the here and now) is the essence of meditation -- whether the sitting variety or more active standing, walking, eating and other forms. If the practice is deep enough, you may have the some of the same experiences described by
Csíkszentmihályi as characteristic of flow
: serenity, timelessness and the transcending of ego.
Transcendence of ego (that is, the disengaging of the stream of thoughts that maintain the illusion of a separate "self") is the direct experience of pure consciousness, presence, Spirit, God, or whatever name you care to give it. In that state of complete immersion, the distinction between subject (the perceiver) and the object (the perceived) breaks down. And it really doesn't matter what you are doing when this happens. You could be running a race, improvising music, writing a story, or just sitting on a park bench. Where there is flow there is grace.
So here's wishing you the experience of flow in your life, the source of real happiness and joy.
, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, "What makes a life worth living?" Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow."
We felines are in the flow all the time, especially when we apply our laser-sharp focus onto something! You can learn a lot from cats about flow. Watch when we put our full attention on a toy or another animal. We're fully in the moment, not thinking about anything else but the hunt!
Soul Wisdom Groups
Are you 50 or older and struggling to envision the rest of your life?
Do you want to leave a legacy but are unsure what that might look and be like?
Do you find that you are wanting to make meaning of your life thus far and where you are heading?
Would you like to participate in a group of people who can provide support and cross-fertilization for meaning-making as you head towards end of life?
Do you want to feel more spiritually connected with your sense of God/Source/Ground of Being? And feel more connected with life in each moment?
If yes, the Mindful Legacy Online Group is for you!
Group will meet online for 12 weeks (using Zoom) on
Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:00 pm.
Cost is $50 per session.
Are you interested in joining a spiritual community of people who come together once a month in Davis to talk about living life to the fullest, finding meaning, working with mindfulness, and practicing meditation? You may find the
Awakening to Spirit
Group a fit. Please visit the website at awakening2spirit.org for more details. Group meets the third Saturday of each month from 10:00 AM to noon.
Do you know someone who could benefit from support? Please share this newsletter as a source of inspiration and guidance.
Soul Wisdom Therapy
Deborah Cohen, M.A., M.P.H., LMFT
707-301-0252 (for texting)
621 Fourth St., Suite 6
Davis, CA 95616