The Art of Working with Flow

yosemite_fallsWell, you’re right in the work, you lose your sense of time, you’re completely enraptured, you’re completely caught up in what you’re doing, and you’re sort of swayed by the possibilities you see in this work. . . – Mark Strand, poet

I’ve been reading Steven Kotler’s The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Performance. The book focuses on the state of flow where the miraculous and seemingly impossible can happen. Kotler defines flow as “an optimal state of consciousness, a peak state where we both feel our best and perform our best.” It is a state that anyone can access under the right conditions.

Creatives and innovators are quite familiar with this capacity. As a writing teacher and creativity coach, I have long worked with ways to help my clients access flow states and help them grasp that flow is at the heart of being creative. When working on a creative project, I will often feel like I don’t have any idea what I am doing or how I am going to accomplish the task. Yet if I just start and keep going, I move into a state of flow where I suddenly know what to do and I am excitedly dancing with the work. This is a common experience in finding and working with flow.

While creatives have long had an awareness of flow, the group of individuals who have pushed the boundaries of human potential most dramatically in the past decade have been action and adventure sports athletes. People, like Laird Hamilton, surfing one hundred foot waves, snowboarders and skateboarders making impossible jumps and rock climbers constantly expanding what they believed to be possible. The only reason extreme athletes are surviving pushing the boundaries is because they are in flow so they provide incredibly valuable insights into how flow works.

At the same time there have been extraordinary advancements in neuroscience including the development of small, portable instrumentation for studying what is going on in the brain in states of flow, for both creativity and these extreme athletes. We now know what part of the brains are being activated and the brain chemistry involved.

I felt incredibly energized as I read Kotler’s book, the way one does when your higher self is nudging you, saying yes pay attention to this, it’s important. In the middle of reading, I went for a walk and encountered a red-tailed hawk sitting atop a twenty foot pine just to the side of the path. I stood in wonder and asked the hawk what it wanted me to know. I have a long history of visitations from hawks, so I suspected she had a message for me.

She then launched into the air glided down to the grass next to a small creek with water trickling through, then walked down into the creek bed. I had never seen a hawk do anything like that. As I stood awestruck she leapt into the air, flashing her rufous red tail, as she sailed across the meadow and out of sight.

As I turned to continue up the path, an awareness flooded my mind that the hawk had been affirming my interest in flow. The hawk and the running water, metaphors for aligning with cosmic forces, with the flow. This encounter felt as the universe itself was conspiring to affirm the importance of my interest in flow.

These kinds of synchronicities are common occurrences in flow. One of the things that all the adventure athletes talked about was their experience of a connection to the Oneness with all things or something greater than themselves when they are in the flow.

We can learn to access this power of flow in any area of our lives including business and problem solving. From this expanded way of knowing we can bring the constructive changes so needed in our lives and the world at this time.

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9 Responses »

  1. Hi Suzanne,

    Thanks for your post reminding me to be in the flow. I love how the hawk guided you — how wonderful such an elegant reminder!

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    suzanne Reply:

    Hi Diana, You are welcome and I like you referring to the hawk as “an elegant reminder”, she was indeed.

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  2. Hi Suzanne,
    How gracefully woven your message of flow observed from a messenger of wings.
    I will remember your beautiful shared vision of flow, always!
    Thank you so much for giving and sharing.

    Love and light,
    Emily

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    suzanne Reply:

    Thank you Emily for your lovely comments. It seems you are feeling the flow. Blessings, Suzanne

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  3. Hi Suzanne, it is wonderful to experience how Nature gives us guidance! Chills went down my back when reading!
    Thank you!
    Rita

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    suzanne Reply:

    Thanks Rita. I love that you got chills. Yes Nature can give us amazing support if you are open. Blessings, Suzanne

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  4. Hi Suzanne,
    I am in Jean’s course with you. I saw a video of Steven Kotler and another man last night about the Rise of Superman and being in the flow. I was very inspired by the talk and am happy to read your article here. i too love getting messages from nature. I will go to ask for you to be my friend now on the QP website. Love, Shanti

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  5. hi suzanne,
    i too am in the Quantum Power class with you…that is how I found your posting here. i really loved your story of flow and connection with the hawk. I am very excited to learn from Jean, sometime it all seems too good to be true. It feels to me that we have all been asleep for so long and now we are finally waking up….it brings up many conflicting emotions as a lot of our world thrives on all of us being ‘less than’ we can be….but now we know and one by one we will all wake up …. be well, suzy

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    suzanne Reply:

    Hi Suzy,
    Thanks for your comment and connecting. I think the beauty of finding like minded and hearted souls like those of us in Jean’s course is that we are being supported to becoming more of who we really are as beings of Spirit. I too am excited by the possibilities as we practice living more fully in the flow.
    Blessings,
    Suzanne

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