The Power of Flow
Another month passes quickly and we find ourselves on the precipice of spring. My March weeks were split evenly between the Midwest and Boston. Time in the Chippewa Valley was busy with family and work. One week I skied, the next it rained and we walked country roads. My self-care routines, however, were nonexistent and I felt the effects on my body and mind. Variety is nice, but so too is our need for routine, intention, and discipline. The following are tangents about vacations and the idea and use of flow in our lives.
Vacation is nice, if we can take the time to restore- see previous newsletter for an article about our off-time. A lot of my “vacations” are to see the world or visit people. Often they are not very restorative. I love vacation time for the variety, the new-ness of places and people, and the perspective after stepping out of my own norms. But to restore, reflect, and find thoughts that don’t involve an itinerary, I have to retreat. Go on retreat, create space, and say no to offerings and obligations. It then requires intention to unplug, to walk in silence, to eat well, to adhere to sleep schedules. And see what transpires. Sometimes we pull away enough distractions to experience "flow."
I recently listened to a book that talked about flow- that state we can find ourselves in when we are focused, involved, and creative in our project. We can find this whether we are balancing the checkbook (to each their own), writing, sewing, washing dishes, or creating a lesson plan. The book suggested checking in with yourself up to 8 times a day to do an inventory- Who am I with? How do I feel? What is the mental state in this moment with the task at hand? Our accumulated data helps us identify the activities that bring us flow: are you alone or with people? Are you active or sedentary? How are you using your mental capacities?
Perhaps you already know how to spring yourself into flow. You know your best time of day, the environment that is conducive to your task, and an appropriate amount of time to allot. Kudos to you and happy flow work! For me, the biggest barriers are guarding an appropriate amount of time, timing during waking hours, and simply starting. Do you ever push a task off because you think it might be difficult or take a long time instead of just beginning?
Spring has sprung sooner out east with flowers popping up and warmer temps. Just thinking about where I might hike next adds a level of anticipation for the day and a goal to finish my work so I might partake in a longer hike or run. While exercise is not negotiable, time to luxuriate in the time spent with my thoughts usually gets a back burner. And many obligations and tantalizing distractions (tv series, social media, books) take me away from the deeper check-in time. Meditation is a great spring-board for luxuriating in our thoughts and an intimate assessment, of course, though I try not to confuse time on the cushion for time to figure out my life or make plans.
(Do you find the thought of alone time with your thoughts less appealing and would not associate meditation with the verb, luxuriate?)
At its simplest, (but not easy by any stretch) meditation requires, us to pay attention to the thoughts but not get carried into the storyline of them. Awesome side-effect? It may, in the end, help clarify the decisions of what to say no to, where to put your energy, and what the next step might be. Sometimes the less we try, the more flow shows up. When, where, and doing what finds you in a state of flow?
I wish you the very best of spring’s gifts and as always, look forward to hearing from you soon!