Flow and open awareness – Do we need it?

Does flow equal mindfulness?

Is flow the ultimate mindfulness champion?

Where is the open awareness in flow?

When teaching mindfulness I often come across the question if a very focused mind is the same as a mind in flow experience OR if flow is the advancement of focus?

Flow as perpetual motion machine (Perpetuum Mobile)

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology and Management, Flow is the a state of mind in which we are fully concentrated on the present, that happens outside of everyday reality. It involves knowing of the task at hand and the ability to monitor how well we are doing, knowing that our skills are adequate. It furthermore comes with a sense of serenity and timelessness – no worries and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego. Ultimately, whatever produces flow becomes it’s own reward.

Mindfulness Meditation converges into Flow

Dr. Brewer – see podcast below – says that Mindfulness coverges into Flow like be a progressed state of meditation on the same continuum. Meditative states can have very focused attention – that depends on how you meditate.

Running down a trail can have a very single-pointed attention, but it can also have much broader awareness – taking in and connecting with more detail. Depending on the speed you are going, you simply might not be able to be aware of birds chirping or other things in your environment that you would be easily aware of at a slower pace.

In flow there will be much more clarity of direction and blending in with your surroundings in a sense of oneness.

The Aperture of Awareness in Flow

In a more general view, in flow there is open awareness of whatever is arising. “I am wondering if the aperture narrows or broadens as the conditions dictate – more so than flow being defined as a narrower or broadened state.” Staying in the photography analogy this means that we are naturally losing depth of field the faster paced our flow activity is becoming.

This leads to me understanding FLOW at a higher level. Taking the aperture and depth of field analogy into account, any flow experience then must mean to be an experience with more potent sensors (i.e. higher amount of megapixels, sharper lenses, better image stabilisation, etc.).

Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation then becomes the path to more potent senses altogether – broadening and sharpening the access to our human faculty.

Judson Brewer on Flowstate Podcast

While writing this blog, more questions arose that I intend to address further down the road:

Is flow the same for masculine and feminine energy and polarity?

Are trips on psychedelic drugs flow states?

Is flow the same as purpose in life?

How selfish am I acting while dissolving my self in a flow activity?

ref: https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/tfpp-flowstate-collective/id1049563447?l=en&mt=2&i=1000414046379

Urban Dads or alive

URBAN DADS EVENT

Are you expecting a baby or recently became a Dad?

Do you have questions about labour, birth & the early months with a new baby?

Would you mind discussing your questions over a beer with likeminded men?

Join Sofie Jacobs, qualified Midwife and founder at Urban Hatch for a fun and informative evening where you will discuss the challenges of being an expecting and new Dad.

Expect to walk away with tips on:

  • Supporting your partner pre and post birth
  • Coping with sleep deprivation
  • Managing life and work as an expecting and new Dad

DATE AND TIME

Wed 24 October 2018

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM HKT

LOCATION

Wynd

10/F, Yu Yuet Lai Building

43-55 Wyndham Street, Central

Hong Kong

register via Eventbrite

Flow Experience through Conscious Dance

Flow Experience through Conscious Dance

“Will I experience flow state during these dance events?” He smiled at me or at my question. His eyes became bright and gentle and he nodded “Yes”. I was too impatient to hear the second and last word he said. “Maybe”.

Freely adapted from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow cannot magically inject speed, fitness or skill into your dancing life – those take hard work. Flow is not a short-cut, it’s an outgrowth and inherent reward stemming from the commitment to do something right.

Flow can do many things. It can heighten the enjoyment you experience during a dance. It can enhance your performance by filtering out distractions, improving focus and strengthening the mind-body connection – merging action and awareness. Moreover, flow can bring you back to the dance-floor.

This is about a group of dancers practicing a weekly meditation in movement. Welcoming newcomers to enjoy dancing to curated music on a spacious hardwood dance floor in the heart of Hong Kong Island.

Absolutely suited to beginners, this practice has no specific steps to follow and pressures no one to perform. We encourage you to dance your own dance.

You will have ample time to warm up in the calm setting that has been prepared for you. A brief guided introduction gives way to freeform expression. Participants dance on their own and join with others as spirit or flow moves them.

Please wear loose, comfortable clothing and be prepared to dance barefoot or with footwear designed exclusively for the dance floor. No street shoes or socks are permitted.

Our facilitators, Flo and Thomas Vinton, have been practicing conscious dance regularly for 10 years and teaching arts-related activities for a quarter century.

Our next session will be October 8 for Buddies. Do you remember times when you were a kid dancing freely with your brother, sister, cousin or friend and moving through imaginary worlds full of laughter and silliness. Well for our next session, you are invited to bring a buddy who will receive complimentary entry. There will be surprises.

Dance Hong Kong with Muse Circle PAGE

Conscious Dance Mondays EVENT

Location

Dance Concept, 7th Floor, Great Smart Tower, 230 Wan Chai Road

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

2018 Remaining Dates

MONDAYS October 8, 22, 29 and November 5, 12, 19, 26

Rates

Set of 4 Classes $1000 – Single class $300.

Please let us know if cost is ever an issue so that we may make special arrangements with you.

10 Learnings from Detox Fasting

10 Learnings from Detox Fasting

Here are Lessons Learned from my recent fasting experience.

I feel great and confused after 7 days of fastign using the Buchinger Method. This method is a detox fasting. It is meant to heal and stimulate body and to declutter and reboot your mind. Weight loss is often a welcome byproduct but not the main focus. I had attended several guided and supervised Buchinger weeks and recommend to only try it on your own with such experience.

One day of much reduced food intake, which is usually recommended to be two days. Five days of not eating with a vegetable essence, herbal tea, a glas of Cowmilk-Kefir and water, water, water. Then one day of slowly eating again.

“All the fantasies about food (i.e. french fries) that had persistently occupied my mind during the fasting week, e v a p o r a t e d ones I started eating again. I ordered french fries yesterday after week-long daydreams and cravings. Then I only tasted a few and could not finish the portion – feeling first deeply saturated, then indifferent and then confused…”

This was the first time that I took time off to do the fasting and yes, it was an entirely new and refreshingly different journey. Doing it in Thailand allowed me to enjoy long walks, several meditations daily, yoga stretches with a view over rice paddies, scooter rides, visiting cafes for herbal tea and Kefir, sleep whenever I felt like it AND getting spa treatments that I did not know existed.

DOWNSIDE

1. If you are on holiday you don’t have many of your usual daily routines and therefore are easier distracted and need a bit more self-motivation to get going.

2. You find yourself spending too much time daydreaming (online and offline) about all the things you will eat when the fast is over.

3. You find yourself sleepy, sluggish and tired. In particular during the second day your body will protest the reality of no sugar, no carbs, no nothing.

4. You might experience headaches or nausea in the beginning. As antidote, I introduced the Kefir following my nutritionist’s recommendation.

5. You can’t drink coffee. This is a real struggle for me as a barristonadie. Even more so when you are in a place with so many excellent coffee roasters around.

UPSIDE

5. You have more time to spend on things of interest. You gain several hours in a day by not searching for, preparing and eating food.

4. Fasting is like a food consciousness reset button. It gives you a chance to plan meals from the inside, meaning with a regained clarity of what you actually want to eat.

4. You eat more mindfully after the fast. You will be more present with the food in front of you.

3. You start to glow from the inside. Genuine happiness sets in on day 3 or 4, once your body turned to burning fat to fuel your brain your synapses come together and dance.

2. Your mind and body become deeply relaxed. An embodied sense of ease kicks in.

2. You are surprisingly functional. Working efficiently on routine tasks and being able to concentrate while feeling more responsive and in control.

1. Your senses become sharp as a razor blade. I swear I could smell coffee 3km against the wind.

1. Your mind becomes creative and future oriented. My absolute No. 1 top upside without a fail. Within one day I had clarity about my near future business and personal plans and already broke it down into action items. Done!

BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED

After having fasted for the 6th time now, one major learning shows time and again:

All the fantasies about food (i.e. french fries) that had persistently occupied my mind during the fasting week, e v a p o r a t e d ones I started eating again. I ordered french fries yesterday after week-long daydreams and cravings. Then I only tasted a few and could not finish the portion – feeling first deeply saturated, then indifferent and then confused.

Makes you wonder what other fantasies we cultivate and embellish in our daydreams, that also might just evaporate and become entirely obsolete when we approach measures to turn them into reality?!

Spoken Retreat, non-silent non-smoking

Spoken Retreat, non-silent non-smoking

After many years of attending shorter and longer silent retreats, I came across an invitation to a spoken retreat and spontaneously registered myself because I was curious to find out what to expect. The brochure said “A spoken retreat follows the structure and format of most silent retreats with the main exception being, that the participants are strongly encourage to verbalise their minds!” Needless to say, each of the participants had to attend a short intake interview by phone and was then provided all details and instructions via an audio-file sent by email.

“All participants are strongly encouraged to express themselves verbally at all times – being on their own or with others.”

SPEAKING BY YOURSELF

As best you can put your mind’s inner commentary into words. Speak out loud what you think as often and as long as you can stay focused. Whenever you fall into silence, congratulate yourself and gently bring back the tone of your voice. Experiment with tonality, melody and volume. When your mind fatigues, start to speak to yourself and with yourself. Do it with kindness. Talk about anything you like or dislike – things you want or need to do and all the things you don’t want to do. Follow through with each train of thought arguing with yourself vigorously to dissect where your preferences and action tendencies come from and what they are based on.

SPEAKING TO OTHERS

In this retreat we cultivate speaking “to” rather than “with” others. Speaking to others means that we encourage you to speak about yourself, revealing some of your moment-to-moment awareness with each statement. Do not ask questions. If you feel the urge to ask a questions, perhaps you can work your way around it. Say “I wonder how you feel today?” Or “I am so anxious standing next to you, that I want to overcome my sense of awkwardness by asking you if you like the vegetarian food.”

THE SPOKEN RETREAT DIALOGUE

Use “I statements” as best you can. Repeat what your counterpart said and then add your own observation of the world and yourself. Example: The other person says “I like how green the gras is here.” You say “You like how green the gras is. I went to the other side this morning and found that it is even greener there.” And so on.

THE SPOKEN RETREAT GROUP CONVERSATION

Similar to the Spoken Retreat Dialogue (R), the Spoken Retreat Group Conversation was developed to increase the depth and richness of the retreat experience. When one group member makes an “I statement” all other group members need to repeat the statement and then make a judging comment based on their own view and experience. Which then in turn is again repeated by each group member. Smaller groups are preferable here for obvious reasons.

MEDITATIONS

Mindful Talking. Choose any thought that comes up in your mind and speak it, out loud. Again and again. Let’s say your thought is “I wish Arsenal wins anything this season”. Try as best you can to fully concentrate on that though and speak it out loud to yourself again and again. Slowly savouring every word. Enquire into each syllable, each word, the sound, the way you produce it, the meaning – of each word, of parts of the sentence, of the whole sentence. Find words with the same meaning for each word in the sentence: “I, myself, me, self, …”; “Wish, desire, want, aspire, crave, …”. When your mind gets distracted – for example by thinking of another football club like Middlesborough for example – say “Thinking, Thinking, Thinking” and bring your attention gently back to your phrase. If your mind drifts to images – say your favorite players holding a cup on a presentation ceremony – say “Imagining, Imagining, Imagining” and then bring back your attention gently and with kindness to your sentence. Take a fresh interest in your sentence and continue your mindful talking. If you notice any feelings arising such as warmth, fuzziness or hatred – say “Feeling, Feeling, Feeling”.

Take it from here!

Zero Tolerance – The pros and cons of rigidity

Many of my clients practice abstinence on a yearly basis, very often for a month or so. It is similar to fasting in some ways but often with a very different mindset. I think the main thing is, that you do it mindfully and where necessary with proper medical supervision.

It is a good idea from a couple of perspectives. Firstly, if your brain has it firmly etched on some habits, you can learn or unlearn things like a mandatory cup of coffee in the morning. We don’t need coffee to be more alert or to work. That is something we put into our minds with these habits. But learning to drop these things and to give the brain a chance to unlearn these habits and behavioral paths is not a bad thing to unlearn the core belief that I need to have that.

Secondly, since you have had the experience that you can actually go without alcohol or coffee or sugar, the brain will remember that. You are able to know that you did it before. These experiences are a very good foot in the door against addiction, abuse and over use.

I question the logic behind going back to the excesses you have just liberated yourself from. My wife and I did a fairly stringent and unsupervised fasting program once and it was not a good idea. We found we needed a good balance and the surveillance of a nutritionist the second time around and it was so much better. Just recently we did our third fasting according to the Buchinger Method: We had such positive changes in lifestyle so there was no way we were going back to previous nutritional and lifestyle choices.

“We had such positive changes in lifestyle so there was no way we were going back to previous nutritional and lifestyle choices. You are much more relaxed because of the changing of your habits so why sabotage things? It was far better to make those positive changes, like much more energy and brain awareness, permanent and sustainable.”

You are much more relaxed because of the changing of your habits so why sabotage things? It was far better to make those positive changes, like much more energy and brain awareness, permanent and sustainable.”

On extreme behavior

When it comes to setting and achieving goals, It’s not essential but it is very much human nature to swing from one extreme to another and is much harder to keep a balance somewhere in the middle. It’s seems to be much easier if you set 100 percent rule, but it’s not easier for many to keep it right.

For instance if you say, every single Monday I am going to the gym. Well, how realistic is that compared to setting a goal to go three times a week and having seven days to make it happen? The tendency is to strive for and set records that are often doomed to fail. Competing and proving things and setting goals is in our culture, but it is often actually just replacing another craving attachment.

Are a lot more people in HK today making conscientious efforts to improve their lifestyle choices? There is no doubt Hong Kong is rife with a lot of distractions, temptations and opportunity. So yes I would say it is a challenge for a lot of people to maintain a healthy balance.

It is certainly more open now and acceptable for people to take periods of abstinence and there is a high priority put on things like detox retreats and other sporting getaways.

Tim Noonan interviewed Sebastian for an SCMP article. Read the article…