“First there is You and the object. Then there is you or the object. Finally, there is neither you, nor the object. ” – unknown.
I think the quote above is from the Pantanjali (Yoga Sutras) – but it is pretty frequently paraphrased in various meditative practices, simply because it’s experientially true.
The mind, deeply concentrated, has an inherent, innate blissful quality that is hard to capture with words.
Samadhi, or the idea of absorption – of being one with the thing you are working on – or the notion of transcendence – the idea of dissolution of borders and boundaries – all of these concepts, while often thought of through the lens of Eastern traditions or meditative states, are really just flow states that any of us can experience. No meditative cushion required.
If you want to do great work, you’ve got to get out of your own way. Flow – being so entranced by your efforts and attention that the idea of a “separate self” drops away, is the ultimate in peak experience.
I’ve had this experience through drugs – through athletics – through meditation – and most rewardingly – and regularly – through my work.
Writing, for me, is a gateway into fierce focus and the phenomenal feeling of flow.
Finding that which makes you come alive and doing that – is the key.
I recently read Steven Kottler’s newest book on Flow (called “stealing fire”) and didn’t love it as much as some of his talks, or his earlier books – but the idea that peak performers in every domain are cultivating the sort of concentration states associated with “flow” to do amazing work (again – through drugs – through atheletics, through meditation/music or meaningful work) ought to surprise no one who seeks out these states to do the same.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman
What makes you come alive?
This is really the question I want to ask all the people, all the time.
It’s something I really need to remember to ask myself as well – as it’s easy to forget and get lost in the minutia of mediocrity, and the malaise.
A pretty good introduction to the idea of flow states on CNN earlier today. Well worth reading.