Flow

(From Jennifer Glenn)

“The experience of your true nature requires that you have no words for who you are.”

There is something that is important to understand about the phenomenon of flow.  When you are fully allowing your awareness of your true self, this *is* flow.  These are two different descriptions that are describing the same experience.  The true you is always in flow.  Flow is the full expression of the true you in this reality. 

Flow is something that has been defined in various areas of psychology.  In sports, it is referred to as “being in the zone”, while in creative pursuits, it is often referred to as being in a “state of flow”.  One of the defining characteristics of flow, as described by those who have experienced it for themselves, is that time appears to speed up or slow down.  Space also appears to be malleable – with strange alterations in perception like golf holes appearing to be as big as bathtubs.  In other words, time and space become subjective experiences to the experiencer.  And this is because the experiencer has actually stepped into herself so fully that she has stepped outside of the generally agreed-upon limitations of space and time.

Take that in for a moment…Two of the biggest pillars that are used to prove the “concrete” nature of this reality are no longer so certain.  They are no longer in compliance with the agreed-upon “rules” of how things are supposed to function here.  Suddenly, you realize how malleable all of this really is.  This is how powerful stepping into the true experience of yourself can be.  Suddenly, anything is possible. 

Usually these experiences of flow are discussed in terms of an activity – playing a sport, creativity (during painting or writing, for example), even surgery.  And, the activity is fine, but the truth is that the activity has become a vehicle through which it is possible to more fully express and experience the true self.  The individual has found a way to ignore the usual limited experiences of the small self and step fully into what it feels like to be in touch with the broader sense of who he is. 

One of the most interesting things about this is that often, when people step into a state of flow, they experience an often ridiculous increase in ability.  Record-setting performances occur, or amazing pieces of art or music are created.  And, these outcomes are astonishing to an outside observer.  However, for the performer, the truth is that it is the experience that is the addictive part – the temporary alleviation of the pain of doubt, self-criticism, and self-judgment and the allowance of much, much more. 

It is also true that flow is often so powerful that even those who get the chance to observe it (as through a sporting event or a live music or dance performance, for example) are elevated by it.  When you observe it, it is memorable.  It becomes clear that the performer has somehow elevated herself into something spectacular.  The whole experience changes the awareness of what is possible for anyone who comes in contact with it – performer or observer.

Once you understand that the experience of flow is an example of what it’s really like to be fully your true self, it’s just a matter of allowing that experience in all moments of your life. It does not have to be a temporary experience saved only for special moments.  This starts with noticing what you are allowing for yourself now and asking if perhaps there is a way to make a different choice.

First, it is helpful to really observe the part of you that takes comfort in having a concept of who you are.  This concept of who you are that is based on familiar patterns (“I am afraid of public speaking”; “I never get anything right”; “I am a nice person”; “I am a huge disappointment”) is something that has a certain energetic and experiential signature that you can start to recognize if you observe your inner space.  Intellectually, it’s easy to see how a pre-defined concept does not allow for movement.  However, understanding this intellectually and observing it experientially are two very different things. When you observe the parts of you that cling to concept, you will notice a certain numbness or darkness there.  This is because energy does not move very much in those areas.  In those areas, you become comfortable with familiarity, and you avert your eyes from the pain that is associated with controlling and thus stifling the flow that is you.

A short version of saying this is that there is a part of you that takes comfort in “knowing who you are” in a way where you can describe it in words to others.  “I like the color blue.”  “I like sad movies.”  “I prefer chocolate.”  These conceptions comfort the mind and allow you to think that you at least know who you are from one moment to the next. 

This is fine, and it’s certainly one way to live.  However, it is problematic if you wish to experience more in life – if you want to know what it’s like to experience the true you.  This is because the true you is always in motion.  It is dynamic.  It is always in flow.  Because of this, it can only be experienced through presence in each moment.  If you cling to a conception or an image of who you are, you have interrupted your awareness of the flow.

When flow has been studied, it has been described as a perfect state of attention – an attending to whatever is happening in the moment that is so complete that it wipes out the experiencer’s awareness of everything else.  Activity and the person performing the activity become merged.  The stream of life is flowing, and the experience of it all washes over and through you.  Instead of clinging to the banks of the river, you let go and experience the ride.  This is the freedom that you crave – the freedom to be what and who you are at all times. 

As long as you allow yourself to be fooled that the comfort of “knowing who you are” is what you desire, you will never have the *experience* of the real you.  The experience of your true nature requires that you have no words for who you are.  Instead, you just allow and experience the flow of the authentic you in every single moment.  It is calling to you even now.

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