GENIUS HOME -
Reader's Questions : Creative Flow States...
In The Flow
Is it possible to enter creative flow
states on a consistent basis?
This article on Creative Flow is in response to a question
from a reader called Ananda...
To: wily[at] wilywalnut.com
Subject: question: creative
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 2008
Thank you so much for your
amazing website and for all the uplifting, fun, and
I have a question regarding
the state of creative flow. Being IN THE FLOW is such a
great feeling! I have felt the pure joy of it many times.
My question is, can we be in that state CONSISTENTLY? and
Can we achieve that state with ease? with a clear
It seems to me that the
moment of pure bliss only comes after much hard work, and
only at unexpected moments! Like the dancer who practices
for hundreds of hours to be at one with the music and defy
gravity for 5 minutes...
Thank you so much
again for everything!!!!!!!!!!
With my best
Here is my reply:
Thank you so much for your wonderfully warm email. It's very
You are right: being in the flow is such a great feeling!
I believe that we can come to achieve the state of flow with
ease and operate there consistently.
And that it does require some kind of system.
I liken it to long-term meditators who can
enter a deeply meditative state very quickly every time
they sit down to meditate... or even sustain it through
the active day. They build up an energy about them. They
are mentally anchored to states of expanded awareness and
heightened attention through long practice and
Part of the problem with consistently achieving a flow state is
that most of us are not emotionally or mentally prepared to
experience bliss or joy for longer than a few moments. We are
habituated to the idea of brief, peak moments, which stand out
so brightly in contrast to the dark, tough, hard times that
come before it. We are trained to believe in reward after long
hard work. As such, we are very much future orientated, and not
really present in the moment.
Flow is a state of forgetting the future and being free to
experience the moment fully. We most typically experience it
when we get so fully absorbed in what we are doing that we
forget about ourselves. In those moments it is as though, 'me',
the ego, ceases to exist and becomes invisible.
Flow happens when the self lets go of 'trying' and just does...
whatever it is, whether it's dancing, painting a picture, or
writing computer code.
It's true that when you are learning skills, there is a great
deal of conscious effort involved. You have to go through the
confusion stage, where the skill seems hard to do. With
repeated practice and efforts to improve, the 'know-how'
becomes unconscious and habitual. What used to take lots of
effort now becomes second nature. You don't have to think about
it any longer. This is the path of mastery. Through repeated
experience you become a master of your skill.
Thinking about it some more, we can see that there are at least
two different aspects of flow. There is that part of flow that
comes through being totally absorbed in the present. And there
is the flow that comes from having made knowledge unconscious
and second nature through long practice and mastery. There is a
great difference between them.
Being present in the moment while you concentrate fully on
painting a picture, writing a story, completing a jigsaw
puzzle, making love, or watching the antics on a garden bird
table, does not take any great skill or effort to achieve. Any
child can do it. It's just a matter of choosing something you
want to do and focusing upon it. As you become absorbed upon
it, you lose yourself in it. And that feels good, if only
because for that time your mind isn't thinking and so it isn't
Flow achieved through long effort, practice, and aiming for a
target, is often about the experience of relief, resolution,
and certainly breakthrough. The greater the effort and tension,
the sweeter the experience of flow, when suddenly you forget
trying and you are just effortlessly doing...
To experience flow states consistently, you require focus upon
a particular skill, subject, or goal. And daily practice,
action, and concentration upon that skill, subject, or goal.
Over time you become a master in this area. To others your
skills seem effortless. When you get beyond trying, you can
forget trying, and just go with the flow of doing...
To me, flow is about trust. Trusting life,
trusting yourself, trusting your mind, trusting your
We have incredible powers, and our deep unconscious minds know
and can do far more than we think we can. We must learn to
trust our deeper minds. The saying, let go and let
God, encapsulates this idea perfectly.
On the pragmatic level, it's beneficial to build up our
tolerance levels for the experience of bliss or joy. Part of
this is resolving any inner issues we have about worthiness,
and being lovable.
Also we can redefine our idea of bliss as
something we can choose to experience right now, rather than
something that we have to pursue.
We can change our perspective from a 'what's
wrong' to a 'what's right' attitude of gratitude and
We can simulate and create the physiological
conditions of joy, thus being free to create joy or bliss
whenever we want. All this takes is sitting up, moving one's
body, adopting the facial expressions and breathing pattern of
someone who is in the experience of massive joy, and
re-creating that experience. At first, this feels like quite an
artificial exercise to do. Like it is cheating somehow. But
this is just a reflex of the belief system that we have been
indoctrinated by, which says joy is rare and can only come
after much effort.
Joy, bliss, love is available right now, right
here. We can choose to experience it frequently, and through
this repeated practice, we become joy or bliss masters -- where
bliss or joy or flow become second nature and habitual to
Thank you again for your warm message, Ananda.
Wishing you the best of the best,
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the Dust Of Mediocrity and Discover
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