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Experiencing ‘Flow’

P. A. Joseph P. A. Joseph
30 Jan 2023
You can enjoy ‘flow’ in reading interested books you have, in watching news, in watching the game you enjoy like cricket, etc.

I was reading the lovely book of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali when a friend came in with a movie about Man’s Flight in the Sky. He began playing it and expected me to join him. I found him rather interested in it. But I could neither give full attention to my book nor watch the movie on the screen. 

Another friend invited me to a dinner with the cuisine prepared by him. As we sat at the table, his friend came in and screened a scientific movie about Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution. I could neither relish the tasty dinner with pleasant talk nor could I enjoy the movie. 

We should give attention to one thing at a time. But today we are in the epidemic of multi-tasking, unable to concentrate on a single thing. We want to do many things at the same time. Some people cannot drive without a mobile in the hand!

When you are fully immersed in a programme, like music, dancing, playing chess, deep study, personal prayer etc., you give full attention to it. The world-famous chess champion Magnus Carlsen, while he was at his game, was fully immersed in it. Music, noise outside, cold or hot weather, hunger or thirst, nothing could distract him. He could sit for hours in front of the chess board.

Flow, to define it, is the psychology of optimal experience. It is like being in ecstasy or being lost in concentration. Nothing else matters. Look at your aquarium. The fish in it are constantly on move -- full sway, full flow. Rabbits in the garden are searching for grass and eating all the time.

You can enjoy ‘flow’ in reading interested books you have, in watching news, in watching the game you enjoy like cricket, etc. Some can spend hours just watching the play. These people achieve ‘flow’ with clear objective, deep consciousness, and concrete and meaningful material. It demands high amount of concentration and being lost in the task or topic. Your ego gets dissolved and you become part of what you are doing. Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described the state of ‘flow’ as pleasure, delight, creativity, and process when we are completely immersed in life. Great philosophers, writers, speakers, artists, preachers, singers, saints etc. experience flow in their work/life. 

There was a huge marble piece in Rome. It was huge and of high-quality marble. No one cared about it. It remained there for years. Michael Angelo, the world-famous artist and sculptor, happened to come that way. Seeing huge rock, he was excited and looked at it with great interest. He began to contemplate on the scene and began to create what he dreamt. Within a short time, the beautiful statue of Moses was carved out of the marble. Admiring his own art, Angelo tapped at the shoulders of the statue and said “speak Moses”. The statue was so perfect and lively, only it could not speak. 

Later the statue was shifted to the magnificent St Peter’s Basilica. Here we see the meaning of ‘flow’ in Michael Angelo’s life. He experienced the optimum flow in his work. It demanded high amount of concentration, attention, willingness to sacrifice everything to realise his dream. In the life of APJ Abdul Kalam we find his flow in whatever he entered. We find his life as a model for the modern world. In whatever field he entered, he revealed his flow.

Do I find my life successful?  What am I fully interested in?  Do I outstand in anything? Where do I find ‘flow’ in my life? In my family, community? If I experience no flow in my life, it denotes that I have much to grow/improve. I must catch up and get involved in what I am interested in and get ‘flow’ in it.                                                                                

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