When you're moving like a well oiled machine.
When all the lights are green.
When you're dancing in the centre of the beat.
The state you enter when everything works as it should, the pieces of the puzzle just fall into place, you loose track of time and your attention is flowing completely into the task at hand. You catch a glimpse of it when you see elite athletes performing at their peak, the surfer embodies it when they catch that wave and ride it to shore, it's the feeling a yoga practitioner has when their breath and body are in smooth synchronicity.
Flow. Known by many other names like the zone, absorption, the sweet spot, liberation. This is a state and a feeling that is beyond the "flow" that is appearing around studio schedules everywhere. It is not as simple as putting on a soundtrack to a yoga class or even the linking of your breath to your poses. Flow is a state that psychologists such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi have found to be a very real and very achievable phenomena where the individual becomes completely absorbed in an activity and achieve a feeling of timelessness. It's the junction where the challenge of the activity you are participating in meets your ability to perform it. It's when you pour all your concentration into a task that your attention is sharpened to a fine point. It occurs when space and time appear to bend and stretch so you become immersed in your goal.
When I step on my mat to practice yoga this is the state I am hoping to achieve, not just for the duration of my practice, but for the duration of my day. This is the state I hope to achieve in parenting each and every day. To stand beside my children, not in opposition to them. To be absorbed in their interests as they are absorbed in their play. To relate with more ease and less friction. To be immersed in each moment rather than hoping to control it.
Those who are studying Flow see this state as one of the keys to unlocking happiness. Perhaps being in Flow is happiness. We have a picture of what happiness might be in our life. A cocktail in hand while lying on a tropical beach. New shoes. A big house. Financial freedom. The Yoga Sutras has something to say about our mistaken view on happiness. Many of the things we think will make us happy are temporary, fleeting. But when it comes to the lasting contentment and joy, sometimes it's the stuff we do that is challenging and throws us the curve balls that make us the happiest. It is the things we do like mastering a sport, or penning a poem, or opening the oven on a well cooked meal, or a connected day spent with our children that offer up to us the happiness that we can hold on to.
When the yogi unrolls their mat and steps on it with the intention of keeping their mind clear, breath constant, eyes focused while challenging their body within its ability they are giving themselves the best chance they can to capture the sensation of Flow. It is the same for the artist and their canvas, the writer and their blank page, the runner and the open road. When we give ourselves the opportunity to capture our flow in the area that sings to us, we give ourselves the opportunity to carry this feeling with intention into the other challenging aspects of our lives. We learn how to grasp the sensation of absorption and allow it to be poured into other areas of our world.
When I unroll my mat I always hope that flow will come and that I can allow it to translate into my life spent with my children.
When was a time you felt fully absorbed in something? Can you recreate this sensation in other areas of your life?