The experience of flow is sublimely uplifting, not only for its own sake but also for its results. Last week I spent five days working quietly and steadily on a play I’ve been editing. Most days, about 30 minutes after sitting down to work on it, everything outside the computer screen started to bleed from my awareness. Sounds faded, my own bodily sensations disappeared and I developed a kind of tunnel vision on the laptop display. I was in the zone and the work came easily.
For me, the ultimate sign that I have entered a state of ‘flow’ is that my self-talk evaporates. My concentration narrows to the point where the running commentary in my mind is subsumed by the task.
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In the Western intellectual world, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the psychologist usually associated with the idea of flow but practitioners of Buddhism and Taoism would argue the idea is not that new.
A brief introduction to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work