For someone who has experienced flow both physically and creatively, I was surprised to learn as much as I did from this School of Greatness podcast featuring flow expert, Steven Kotler.
If you don’t have time for the full hour-long podcast right now, here is a 3 min. snippet of Steven Kotler on flow 101.
I already knew I loved this stuff, but diving into the science solidified why. To me it’s more than just a runner’s high. It is a complete letting go. An absolute trust. A divine intervention.
This is why I get so emotional watching live performances. (Am I the only one who cries at concerts, during the Olympics?) Witnessing people in flow can be nearly as awe-inspiring as experiencing it yourself.
I totally get why Kotler compares the high to cocaine, except with a whole bunch more happy and healthy neurotransmitters firing at the same time. I also get the dark side of flow. The addictive qualities, the depression following, the constant seeking.
Going back to the five or six months I spent writing my book in 2011, I was in flow nearly everyday. I had relaxed into my writing process; I had let go; I had no outline or direction … just time, space and freedom. In such a nurturing environment, where seemingly forced moments were broken up by hikes, beach-side meditations and gym and pool workouts, I was unknowingly hitting several triggers tapping into flow.
In those months, I craved writing more than I’d ever imagined. A weekend without writing a word had me feeling anxious and annoyed. Then, for much of 2012 and ’13, while I spent the majority of my time preparing I Think I’ll Make It for publishing, I felt an underlying depression that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Here I was, fulfilling my biggest dream by publishing my first book and, admittedly, I felt uninspired and, dare I say, bored.
And now I know why. NO FLOW.
In fact, it wasn’t until I began TYOMD in November ’13 and was actually writing again everyday did that dull ache fade away, therefore recognizing what I’d been missing.
The beautiful thing about flow, the ego disappears. Inhibition falls away and source/universal energy hops in the drivers seat. What happens next, none of us can really explain, although Kotler does a damn good job trying.
The only other times I’ve been in flow are surfing, snowboarding, playing lacrosse, ice hockey, and trail running. Sporadic moments at a time when I let my thoughts fall away and relax into my environment.
I have to admit, this interview got me thinking about upping my adventure game. Ever since reading Wild, I’ve been obsessed with packing a bag and heading out into the abyss, of sorts. I don’t know about becoming superman just yet, but being in woods with little but a pen and pad of paper for a stretch of time sounds like my kinda trip.
I leave you with this: Listen to the above podcast; it’s worth it … I promise. Where have you witnessed flow in your life? How can you invite more flow opportunities in?
#Onward in flow