Flow

Flow is the state of optimal experience that occurs when your body, mind, and spirit are in dynamic balance. It happens when the Now is so compelling that everything else fades away. Ego and fear dissolve in the perfect moment, time slows down, and whatever you are doing becomes a meditation.

Wikipedia:

Flow is a term created by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and so named so because during Csíkszentmihályi’s 1975 interviews several people described their “flow” experiences using the metaphor of a water current carrying them along.

Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow.

  1. intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  2. merging of action and awareness
  3. a loss of reflective self-consciousness
  4. a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
  5. a distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
  6. experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience

Those aspects can appear independently of each other, but only in combination do they constitute a so-called flow experience.

When does flow occur?

Through being aware of your state you will discover many ways in which are able to be in, and already existing in the flow state.  Dance, meditation, art, music, concentration on a task, anything can encapsulate you in a moment of flow.

The different states of flow are intertwined with play.  One cannot exist without the other.  Play is one method of being in a state of flow.  It happens naturally.

How to achieve flow?

Interesting question!
A flow state is a personal way of being.  You can enter the flow state through any activity, at work, play, and is defined by the points above.  Often through doing something enjoyable, without noticing you may be in a flow state.

A flow state is something that happens naturally.  It is not something to get or obtain before we have it.  It happens naturally when we immerse ourselves in the present.

Flow Arts?

What many are now referring to as the Flow Arts is that of a state of play with your body / toys / apparatus that involves a physical nature entering into a moment of flow. The name flow arts has thus been taken primarily for these arts where one can focus on a creative state of being & play.

All things circus, fire spinning, juggling, poi, staff, hoop, dance, etc are known as flow arts.  Through play we can achieve a flow state, where our mind, body and spirit become one.

For further reading / exploration:

Flow: The Psychology of Happiness

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.