Whenever we explore a new topic, I feel like it’s important to not only clarify exactly what it is and how to embrace it in practical terms (which we will get to later in the month), but it’s crucial to know why it’s worth your valuable time. Because without a good reason, we are a lot less likely to be driven to stick with it.
We all know it’s important to stick with exercise, consistent and solid sleep, and a healthy way of eating, because each of those physically and mentally benefits us. Personally, however, I have to constantly remind myself of that fact; sometimes in a very concrete way. I’ll eat horrendously one day (read: I love fries and putting butter or mayo on things. I know.) and then wonder why I feel horrible. I’ll choose to stay up an extra hour staring at a screen and then wonder the next day why I am stuffing food in my mouth and being short-tempered with my children. Only in hindsight and with practice do I come to realize that it is worth it to stick with positive routines because of the benefits that are so easy to take for granted and not notice.
Now that September has begun, we are in the home stretch of 2016. (I know. Crazy.) It’s also the busiest time of the year: back to school, fall activities, and the bustle of the holidays looming on the horizon. I have been astonished at the level of busy-ness I am encountering lately, and I a) only have two children and b) don’t have a traditional 9-t0-5 job. I look around at other women I know and I am blown away by all they handle. One friend I know has three children and a full time job with the school district. Another is divorced, works, and has four children at three different schools. Another has no children but commutes over an hour each way, every day, and isn’t taking any days off right now in order to learn her new job, and her house just flooded (like, completely- upstairs and downstairs!). I marvel at these women. And I think about what could make life a tad easier for them, and for all of us. What would be good reasons for them? What would benefits us all, universally?
Which is where this Flow business comes in. So many times we are pushing and pulling life into what we think it needs to be at that moment. Flow is the opposite of that. Flow embraces. I love the definition Randi laid out recently:
“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.“
And I think there can be another way to look at it, too. To me, it means simply not pushing. Relaxing into the be-ing of the now. Knowing that it will get done. People will get fed. We will make the deadline, because we always manage, somehow. We can work and still have the flow of life lead us. Taking solace in these facts.
We can steer the boat and go with the flow at the same time.
And reap the benefits.
Here are three super solid reasons why working on your Flow is important, right now, and worth your valuable time:
- It is a form of meditation and can ultimately bring us closer to peace. When we are present, when we are flowing with the moment of life, our mind eases. It’s hard enough to fit in meditation, so why not do it this way? Be present, tune in, and the racing slows. Or maybe the racing disappears altogether. And we can tap into a deep sense of peace that will become a habit.
- You’ll get healthier. Look at these studies based on Flow while playing video games! When your mind is focused, you reduce stress, reduce anxiety, and as a result, will sleep better and experience actual physiological benefits. (It’s all so connected.)
- You’ll experience growth. And improve performance all-around. Obviously this principle is centered on doing something other than video games, but studies have shown that Flow can foster breakthroughs and creativity that lasts for days afterward.
When I sit down to practice guitar, I enter a Flow state every time. Sometimes I resist doing it because I know it is more of a commitment than I have time for, and it could be detrimental to my time management. (Same goes for playing Soda Crush.) So remember, at the end of the day, we do have to let go of this and exercise moderation, just like everything else in life. The ebbs and flows remain.
“The flow experience, like everything else, is not ‘good’ in an absolute sense. It is good only in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful; it is good because it increases the strengths and complexity of the self. The question regarding flow is not only how we can make it happen, but also how we can manage it: using it to enhance life, yet being able to let go when necessary.”