The Science of Flow:
Flow really is on the opposite end of the mind/body continuum as compassion fatigue. Whereas compassion fatigue is characterized by “being lost in rumination and worry” flow feels so good it is rewarding just to do it. Whereas compassion fatigue can result in decreasing concentration and focus, flow aligns and focuses intention with attention. Can you imagine doing something excellently, simply for the enjoyment of doing it?
Flow is known to athletes as peak performance and; “the zone.” It is a highly energized and enjoyable state of physical and mental harmony that is characterized by confidence, control and awareness. Sports psychologist Ken Ravizza in “Applied Sport Psychology” describes that when athletes experience this peak performance they share the following perceptions (p.125):
1. Loss of fear – no fear of failure
2. No thinking of performance
3. Total immersion in the activity
4. Focused attention
5. Effortless performance – not forcing it
6. Feeling of being in complete control
7. Time-space disorientation (usually slowed down)
8. Perceive universe to be integrated and unified
9. Unique, temporary, involuntary experience
Does this mean only athletes can experience flow? Not at all. In fact in “Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life” Dr. Csikszentmihalyi found people from all walks of life routinely experience flow. He states: “When a person’s entire being is stretched in the full functioning of body and mind, whatever one does becomes worth doing for its own sake; living becomes its own justification. In the harmonious focusing of physical and psychic energy, life finally comes into its own” (p.39).
“Even the simplest physical act becomes enjoyable when it is transformed so as to produce flow. The essential steps in this process are: (a) to set an overall goal, and as many sub-goals as are realistically feasible; (b) to find ways of measuring progress in terms of the goals chosen; (c) to keep concentrating on what one is doing, and to keep making finer and finer distinctions in the challenges involved in the activity; (d) to develop the skills necessary to interact with the opportunities available; and (e) to keep raising the stakes if the activity becomes boring” (p.97).
- Mihaley Csikszentmihalyi: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Performance
FlowMotion is a conscious, purposeful exercise that is done for the enjoyment and mastery of the activity itself. I would also add that FlowMotion is also a method to actualize the intelligence, power and playfulness of the Natural Self, your “second attention.”
FlowMotion is the practice of inducing the physical state of flow that can’t help but evoke mental, emotional and spiritual flow. It is the alignment and focus of physical and psychic energy into a fluid, spontaneous motion that over a period of practice will transform the frozen energy of compassion fatigue into the fluid, alive energy of flow. FlowMotion transforms compassion fatigue in several ways:
Physically. On the most basic, real and tangible level, FlowMotion is the practice of physical flow. Compassion fatigue is actual physical freezing that can manifest in chronic tightening of muscles, fraying of nerves, restriction of breath. The body becomes brittle, fragile, the immune system compromised. FlowMotion transforms chronic tightness and restriction of movement into smooth, fluid movement that is coordinated and in harmony with breathing. Body awareness is increased, as is the enjoyment of being in the body.
Emotionally. When your physical body begins to break out of its rigid inflexibility, so too will your emotional “body.” As we discovered earlier through the work of Candice Pert, author of: “Molecules of Emotion,” emotions are conducted and felt in the body. The most direct and immediate route to positively influencing your emotions is to positively influence your body. By routinely practicing invigorating, energizing and flowing movement, your will immediately and positively impact your emotions.
Mentally. The practice of aligning attention and intention is invaluable when developing higher levels of focus and concentration. FlowMotion is an intensely mental as well as physical discipline. Engaging your creative imagination to visualize, sense and feel specific body-mind states develops focus and concentration in the service of progressive enjoyment. The better you get at focusing, visualizing and concentrating on the release of stagnant frozen energy and the absorption of fresh, alive invigorating energy, the more enjoyment you experience. And, because your visualization is done in concert with smooth, flowing physical movements and full, conscious breathing, the images of your visualization will be recorded in the body as a very real, physical enjoyment that accumulates with continuous practice.
Spiritually. It is my belief that each of us has a part to ourselves that is naturally powerful, wise and playful. I call this part your Natural Self. The Natural Self is the essential self. It is the self without image or form, belief or bias. It is the essence of self within the self. It is both within the center of the being and the periphery of the body. It is at the same time within the lungs and in the air that escapes the lungs. It is the essence of movement and the movement itself.
FlowMotion can be broken down into four main movements that can be practiced separately as "breaths;" Breath of Relief, Breath of Awareness, Breath of Acceptance and Breath of Transformation. Click on the picture below to go directly to that page.