The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flow And Performance

Flow and performance

As long as you have a body, you will have an ego, a self-representation that is "you" for all practical purposes. It is composed of all your self-concepts, everything you have ever thought of yourself, everything you've ever been told by anyone you trusted or needed to please.

It is a mosaic formed of a million opinions, a cocoon spun from a million threads, and both protects and limits. You know this is truth: every time you've ever performed at total peak level, the normal "you" wasn't there at all. For me, this can feel like "stepping aside" or even better, there is no awareness of self at all, only the Thing Itself.

The doorway into this state is Flow. Flow might be considered the lowest level esoteric state...or the highest state of "ordinary" awareness. It can be described as dissolution of the subject-object relationship, the melting of boundaries and the conquest of time. It is "the danger zone, where the dancer becomes the dance" in those fine, enlightened words from "Flashdance."

We experience flow as the mind shifting from digital to analogue, from words to images, from images to sensations. I've experienced this in many ways: In writing, I melt into the page. In running, it feels as if I'm standing still, and the rest of the world is moving around me. In Tai Chi, I am standing still and the universe is folding me like origami. In sex, the artificial difference between the lover and the beloved vanishes as orgasm approaches. In driving, time vanishes and I reach home with little awareness of the intervening events. In fighting, there is no fight--just a dance of pressure, vector, and intent, two people engaged in, for a brief moment, becoming a single event.

Flow is flow. Whereever you find it in your life, watch "from the corner of your eye" as it were, to see how you are breathing, sitting, holding your facial expressions. And seek that same sense of relaxed focus in other arenas. Seek grace, focus, and form in all aspects of life. Seek peace in intensity.

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