Friday, October 31, 2014

Finding Flow

One of the disadvantages of our inability to keep lots of things in our head at one time is that we aren't great at stepping back, looking at the big picture, and deciding what tradeoffs we want to make. One of the advantages of our ability to not keep lots of things in our head at one time is focus.

Meditation is not something mystic or fluffy. You can dress it up any way you want to make it appeal to you, but what it really is is practising focus. We are all good at putting the majority of things out of our mind. It is just the last few things that we struggle with and hop between. Enter Flow.

Flow happens when you are involved in a skill based activity where the feeling you have is so intense you feel like you don't exist. Your identity (worries, daily life, fears, responsibilities) disappears from your consciousness. That sounds almost exactly like a definition of meditation. The great thing with flow is that we all find it in a different place, and often it is when we are engaged in the process of creating something new. Even when it is not necessarily creating a physical thing, watching someone in flow is a thing of beauty (Federer, Messi etc.).

I believe strongly the world is moving forward. The reason being that a fundamental thing that makes us happy is being creative. We find something that pushes us. Not so much that we are anxious and not so little that we are bored. As each of us push a little, we all benefit. One challenge we face is that we have lots of people whose daily tasks are such that the skill level required is low and the challenge is low. Worry, apathy and boredom can become a habit. If we are able to nudge more people out of those zones then I think we will be on the right track.

So if you want to start a meditation practice, one way to do it is to find something that has a long path of progression where the challenge can push just beyond your skill level. Something that offers life-long learning.

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