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

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!

Inspire Wellness Talks

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Inspire Wellness is a 6 part series of lectures exploring the effects of lifestyle on our health and what we can do to slow down aging. Experts from some of Hong Kong’s largest institutions in health and wellness will be sharing their research and knowledge in the areas of sleep, stress management, brain health, movement, beauty, nutrition, mental and physical well being. You will be leaving with practical tips to gain control over your health now and prevent aging diseases in the future.

Read more …

 

My upcoming Events in Central Hong Kong

Check out the upcoming events for ambitious people with limited time. 
FOCUS TRAINING AND ATTENTION GYM

Increases attention and awareness helps us to be the way we want to be at work and with close ones. The focus training is 3-hr workshop to introduce you to simple practices and give answers to the most common challenges for your concentration, empathy and emotional balance. It’s meant to refresh your insight and understanding of how to train and maintain your attention throughout challenging days and long weeks.

Learn how to use simple and effective concentration practices to benefit from increased awareness in your daily actions and interactions. Understand and apply insight for mental strength and emotional balance.

Date: Saturday 4 June 2016

Location: Central Hong Kong

Facilitator: Sebastian Droesler

Cost: HKD350.-

Details & Registration: Just Focus

MINDFUL MEN’S GROUP mini

This men’s group enables men who want to address issues and phases of their lives in a group of likeminded others. This is a great opportunity to experience the benefits of a closed group within a shorter timeframe. You will learn to reflect and engage with yourself and others in a much more effective and effcient way. The group will produce an in-depth richness of stories and experiences.

Why purpose, feminine energy, nothingness and other men can inspire us and make us mad at times. How to resolve issues in relationships, at work and with yourself.

4x Wednesdays 1, 8, 15, 22 June 2016

Location: Central Hong Kong

Facilitator: Sebastian Droesler

Cost: HKD1600.-

Details & Registration: Men’s Group

RELATIONSHIP CLINIC

Increased awareness and understanding of your ‘signature’ behaviour, perceptions and emotional responses in relationships helps us getting the love we want. This 3-hr workshop is for everyone who want to understand for her or himself the way he/she operates with partners or spouses. You will be able to find out how much power we have to change the way we interact. The chance to uproot fights and arguments fundamentally motivates each of us!

Workshop for individuals and couples who want to get a basic understanding of their relationship ‘style’ and how they can change to improve their relationship skills. Based on the Emotion Focused Therapy approach.

Date: Saturday 18 June 2016

Location: Central Hong Kong

Facilitator: Sebastian Droesler

Cost: HKD400.-

please contact Sebastian 

How you can benefit from mindfulness

 

INTERVIEW ON MINDFULNESS

What is mindfulness?

Being mindful can be defined as paying attention to the present moment on purpose and in a non-judging way. Mindfulness of the mind is becoming aware of what is going on in your mind – using your mind as the object of your attention.

People don’t do that?

Actually no, there is scientific evidence that we only pay attention to the present moment in roughly 50% of the time.

See, nowadays we are facing lots of distractions, we all have demanding jobs, setting and maintaining boundaries for our work-life balance are a real challenge and people easily lose sight of what they actually want to do

There is information everywhere, we get interrupted and overwhelmed with news, signals, alerts, messages, email, media and games

Many of us find it increasingly difficult to focus

Why are you teaching it?

It started when I was a participant in a course on mindfulness-based stress reduction. After only a few weeks of practice I felt more calm, in control, concentrated and my wife told me that I was a better partner. she found I was much more aware and kind.

Then followed more programs, lectures and workshops and an inspiring course at Hong Kong University, because I wanted to fully understand the foundations and the philosophy of mindfulness, which is rooted in eastern tradition.

What can clients expect from being more mindful?

First thing that comes to my mind really is STRESS-REDUCTION. in so many ways. Better sleep, healthier immune system, increased memory, higher and longer concentration, sharper focus.

Second thing is all around developing healthy and helpful ATTITUDES for life. For example: Being able to let go of things that bother you; having the courage to be patient and mastering the art of not making bad things worse

Do you use it in therapy?

I frequently use it with individual clients, but also with couples and of course I like teaching it to groups of people. In groups there is more sharing and interactive experience going on, which often helps people to learn better.

How does that work in therapy?

Mindfulness is a meta-cognitive approach and therefore can be used in combination with cognitive-behavioural therapy  (CBT).

That means that I choose interventions on different levels. I can look at patterns of behaviour and into beliefs and negative thoughts on one level; but also learn how to take a step back and bring some distance between me and my thoughts.

The second thing is a SECOND thing

Another thing my clients learn is how to keep and maintain their focus of attention.

Let’s say you need to look up an email on your phone. You push the home button to switch on the screen and key in your security code or use you fingerprint login. The next thing you see is the landing screen of your phone. There is a red batch on one of your messenger-apps with a number in it, that indicates that you have some new messages. You click on it and read the messages. You reply to some of them immediately. Then you switch of your phone and the screen disappears. In that moment – or much later – you remember that you actually wanted to look up an email.

  • Where was your focus?
  • Where was your awareness?
  • What just happened?

You just got distracted. That means you did not do, what you actually wanted to do. Some call this waste of time. The keys to productivity are prioritisation, focus, clarity and relaxation.

IMAGINE! It is the last day at work before your long awaited vacation. Let’s say your flight leaves at 9pm. In the morning it becomes clear to you that you need to check-in by 7pm which means that you need to leave the office at the very lastest by 6pm. Now you are planning backwards. You decide that there are two phone calls to make, three things you can finish that day and one meeting you can attend. That’s it. Otherwise you will not be able to catch your plane.

This short planning ahead all of a sudden enables you to say “No” to people, to NOT attend meetings where your attendance is not absolutely necessary, to postpone non-urgent items, to delegate important tasks and stay focused on the things you decided to finish. Having a plane to catch apparently helps a lot of us to plan and prioritse, to stay focused, be clear about what you want and need to achieve and to be relaxed enough to say NO with a smile!