I am a cold weather girl, and look forward to the fall and winter months when I can breathe easier and my schedule picks up once again. I really enjoy being busy – immersed in my work, teaching, and being creative. This is when I feel my best and most alive. Summers are typically harder for me with the heat, humidity, and a lighter work load. Transitioning from busy-ness to more free time can throw me out of balance, and I have to be sure to focus my mind so that I stay grounded.
Recently I discovered that there is science behind my experience, and that the relaxing times are not always our happiest moments. It is known as the Flow, and occurs when we are completely absorbed in an activity that engages our creative abilities.
The Flow is considered to be a state of consciousness, coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This “being in the flow” is when we feel strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of our abilities. When I am teaching, meditating, working with a client, or doing anything that I love, I enter into this flow state every time – finding total connection with the energy of the universe.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
We strive for happiness, but when it seems to slip through our hands, we are never sure when it will re-enter our lives. Happiness, like any other emotion, is fleeting and dependent upon perspective. The real key to lasting happiness is learning to be in the flow and to be in control. When we can exercise control over the contents of our consciousness and our minds, rather than allowing ourselves to be passively determined by external forces, we can enter into a flow-like state.
The practice of meditation and performing healing work has strengthened my ability to enter into the flow effortlessly. These concentrated activities bring harmony, attention, and peace into my mind and body. And the more I meditate and work, the more the flow enters into all areas of my life.
I feel the happiest and most free when I am focused on one thing, and am doing it well. This is what Csikszentmihalyi meant when he says that our best moments are when we choose to do something worthwhile even if it is difficult for us, and that there is a payoff in doing so. So although it can seem exhausting to work a lot, if you love what you do, it actually makes you happier than if you were having time off. For me, work rarely feels like work, but my reason for existing.
I meditate and live for my work, but you could go for a walk, a run, practice yoga, visit friends, travel, draw, paint, write, sing, or play an instrument. Find what your attention and soul are drawn to, and absorb yourself in it so that you can effortlessly enter the flow as well.
We are all energetic beings, and this means that we are able to shift and morph energy through our thoughts, beliefs, actions, and choices. Our happiness depends on how we choose to direct our emotional energy. Feeling that you have a sense of control in a situation, having awareness and concentration in the present moment, and letting go of the opinions of others, will allow you to enter into the Flow more often and with the least effort.
Lastly, being in the flow has been proven to correlate with higher states of happiness. The more you live your life in this state of consciousness, the better your performance will be- in all areas of your life!
P.S. If you would like to learn more about Flow, and how to be more present in your life, join me in September for The Fall Soul Series: Living In The Present Moment.