Volume 2, Issue 32
Flow state aka the Zone is when you are functioning perfectly without effort. Everything is flowing along as if doing itself and the reaction at large to your performance is ideal.
When you are there, what often happens is that you let out the clutch a little bit too far on the edit rate for your impulses — and out pops an action that fails in the real world and suddenly you are not in the Zone any more.
Anger at self then impulsively arises, ensuring that re-entry to Flow will be impeded.
The way to re-optimize this edit-slackening program is for you to realize that you are going strong so you have naturally started to assume that every arising in your mind is certain to be brilliant and so you should do it right away. Staying stoically unattached to your great performance without letting it go to your head or bring you into a state of overconfidence is a delicate balancing act that should go on as automatic background menschness. This can be aided by a sense of humor and loving distance from your own ego.
All of this head action is optimally executed sans words in the head. To the extent that you hear inner vocalization you might be in Observer state but not Flow. Observer state is the valuable entry state for Flow, characterized by vivid inner attention so you see your ego for what it is and can reprogram your own actions rather than acting robotically — to some extent.
When that lens is operating one can easily slip into the Zone doing something in which one is well practiced, so long as there is no attachment to outcome, and so long as you are doing the thing because you like to do that thing, it’s your thing.
Attachment to other people’s opinions of you can keep you out of both these states, especially Flow. Yet even people with high detachment — fatalists resolved to take whatever comes stoically — give up this attachment last. We are social beings. Death is not as poignant as shame.
The lens of utter detachment can be put on and worn. It doesn’t just sit lightly on your nose, it sinks into your being, you feel it bodily, your breathing is easier, you’re comfortable in your skin, secure, liking your self, the character you play on the stage of life.
This is effortful today. Acceleritis did not exist in Jesus’ day or he might not have gotten to such a high level (leaving aside divinity for the sake of argument).
Every time a challenge to your sense of self arises you need to write it down and come back to it in contemplation until it is solved. You take action items and implement them. Doing this systematically leads to a sense of being secure with who you are. It is essentially the methodological root of stoicism. One cannot muster the strength to embody stoicism (not just being stoic in one’s mind) unless one has worked out the antagonistic voices in one’s head that pull you down. This unglamorously cannot be done without lists. And time alone for contemplation. Blank pads laying around come in handy for drawing automatic situational schematics and jotting trigger words.
Negative outcomes one is desperately trying to avoid can lose their force if one vividly imagines those outcomes actually happening and how one would ideally deal with them. This contemplation of the corpse* burns out fear of dreaded outcomes. In knowing oneself and relative fearlessness, one can act in freedom, whereupon the Flow state is just the natural next stage in the process.
Best to all,
*Contemplation of “horrible” things is an ancient technique for “burning out” their apparently (but not truly) inherent “horribleness”.
P.S. Have you heard about “Giving Tuesday”? It follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is much more uplifting. On Tuesday, November 27, charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.
“Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity” at http://givingtuesday.org/.