It’s interesting to observe how a concept comes at me from all different directions.
The word “flow” has been in my consciousness this past week. A chance comment from someone; a mention by a coaching client during a call; a random email. It prompted me to pull the book, Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, off my bookshelf and start thumbing through it. The next thing I know my favorite comic strip, "Rhymes with Orange", mentions flow as well as Csikszentmihalyi! Check out the strip here. I hope it makes you snort with laughter. Or maybe a chuckle You’ll definitely smile.
So, okay, okay. I wanted to write another post about flow anyway. I don’t need more whacks on the head!
I’m thinking and writing about flow because I want more of it. I want to find that entry point into flow. Flow in writing, flow in business, flow in playing, flow in movement. A place to lose myself on one level while expanding and moving forward on another.
Doesn’t that sound delightful?
We look for flow as we plan the space in our home. We lose ourselves in the flow of conversation. Coffee, tea, wine can flow (which certainly affects the conversation!) Music flows, washing over you. The moon and the tides ebb and flow. Life ebbs and flows.
If we really pay attention we can know where we are in the cycle and relax into it.
But is it something we can call up at will? Can I place an order for flow as I sit here typing?
I believe so.
First, notice when you’re not in flow. How does that look for you? For me it’s a subtle loss of concentration that leads to activities that have nothing to do with what I’ve set out to do. You know, email…internet…Facebook…the dreaded siren song of a game of solitaire. Definitely not in flow; more like snagged on a branch by the side of the river.
What do I do? I take a break. Just like a child’s pose in yoga, we often need to pause before continuing. To continue the river metaphor have you ever noticed a river slowing down over some rocks before coming to a drop and rushing forward?
Take a break.
If you are in flow – and you notice – go with it. Let IT take you. Sometimes that can feel uncomfortable because at that point you realize you're not driving. Your creativity has taken over. See if you can let it take you where it will. Let each move or step or word determine the next. Yes, it’s a little like working blind but it’s also quite magic. Engage your curiosity and see where you go.
But can I really call it up at will?
I do believe you can. I believe it’s a process of allowing. Surrendering. Making it fun. Being an improv artist at whatever you’re doing.
Jazz musician Kenny Barrett describes improvisation in jazz as “A daunting art of spontaneous creation...It’s like instant composition. Creating problems for yourself and then having to solve them, grabbing a handful of notes out of thin air and making something of it.”
That’s flow! Forward movement, trusting the process. All those terms and phrases that just mean being in the moment and curious and open.
I’m sure you’ve experienced flow at some point of your life. Hopefully, often. What did it feel like? Do you remember how you got there, what led you to that sweet spot? How might you get there again?
Please leave a comment and share what works for you!
Kathy Kane blogs about the creative process in the everyday, in writing and in the magical transition to the second half of life.
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