The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 10, 2014

Flowing Across America

Got back to Glendora on Saturday night, after driving across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and into California.    It’ll take me a few days to rid my body of the fatigue and stress, but I did have a couple of days in Phoenix with Amara Charles and Shyena, where we taught a Friday Night mini-workshop in an adaptation of the I.D.E.A. concept to the world of Tantra.
The workshop itself was great fun, but even better was the get-together on Saturday.  The intent was to see if there was anything people still needed..but also to do a bit of market research. The question was: is there something useful, valuable, in our approach?   We certainly believe that to be true, but the only proof is in the reactions.
And yes...the value seemed to be in the balance of male and female   that we bring to the question of refining and expressing our core creative human energies.  This bears more thought.
Today, I’ll plunge back into my writing.   I actually took a full printed manuscript with me, but never cracked it.  By the time I turned in in the evenings, i was trashed.  Barely enough energy to watch television, do some yoga, answer email and go to sleep.  But the work is right there for me
The core of the I.D.E.A. concept is that it is possible to refine our automatic, unconscious behaviors.  The tool is to break down the component elements of skills in the three major life areas until we can  develop “flow state” in them.  That means enough difficulty to force full attention, but maintain enough facility that we are not overwhelmed.    Flow is the last stage of “ordinary” mind, a high-performance state that can be adapted to all basic aspects of life, and it is hugely valuable to learn how to enter it at will.  One of the first things I discovered about   high-performing person was that they entered the “flow tunnel” of their chosen discipline almost at will, and could maintain it for long periods of time.  This facilitated:
1) Learning.   When you read or study, you need to enter a “tunnel” where the rest of the world falls away.
2) Creating.  Again, the focus of the creative genius is legendary.  Artists continue to create as their studios burn down around them.
3) Expressing a physical skill.   Fighting, driving, sex, running, dancing various other work-out modes.  When you can enter flow state, you are “surfing” on a wave of exertion.   Finding this doorway is the way to turn a physical activity into a mental/emotional/spiritual discipline.
4) Meditation and prayer.  I won’t dwell on the many definitions and intents of each, or whether they are necessarily different things.  My personal definition: prayer is me speaking to God.  Meditation is me listening for the answer.  That is a touch over-simplistic, but hopefully it helps.  When you can access flow state during these times, it deepens...everything.
5) Interpersonal communication.    Ever meet one of those people who, when you speak to them, seem to give you ALL their attention?  
6) Sexual/sensual communication.  I remember a make-up woman telling me about working on Sean Connery.  That when he engaged with her, it seemed that the rest of the world disappeared. That so far as he was concerned, she was the only woman in the world.  And that it wasn’t “only PERSON in the world.”  No, it had the sexual energetic, and was absolutely devastating.    Remember William Hurt’s conversation with Holly Hunter in “Broadcast News” (yeah, I love that movie).  He watched her total focus during work, and it turned him on like crazy.  He “wondered what it would be like to be in the middle of all that energy.”  Yowsers!    Can you get any more explicit than that?
7)  Writing.   Well, this is “creating” again, but I wanted to go back to it.  My first impression of Harlan Ellison was energy.  But watching him writing a story in the window of A Change Of Hobbit in Westwood, or in the lobby of a hotel in Phoenix as hundreds of fans chattered around him, I realized I was seeing someone with more control of mental flow than I’d ever seen.  Larry Niven has the fastest flow I’ve ever seen---seems to be able to simply turn it on and off like a faucet.  Amazing.   Balancing flow is the path to mastery of “writer’s block”, but also a way to connect the conscious mind with the unconscious dream state.  Whatever capacity you ultimately have as a writer will express through a combination of your innate instincts, education, intent, external or internal project values, and more.    Much more.  Far too much for you to consciously juggle the aspects.  But if you can work these aspects separately, and then trust the unconscious to integrate...and practice this across the 10,000 hours (on average) necessary to achieve mastery, you have a damned good chance to approach your true excellence.

As the state of “Awakened Adulthood” is the last “useful” stop in the conscious evolution spectrum, “flow” is the last thing we can really talk about with words we all understand.  Everyone enters flow state at least a bit.    It is the “hypnogogic” state you enter just before falling asleep. It is the place you enter in the moments before hitting the orgasmic bobsled run, when the external world fades away.  It is the automatic pilot you enter on long-distance drives.
Identify it in ANY arena, study it, and apply it appropriately to other disciplines, and you are reaching for your own genius.
So….maybe I’ll talk more about this tomorrow. Having spent the last week in flow about 12 hours a day, I think I’ve got a lot to say on the subject.  We’ll see if I say it.

(If you want more on this, faster, be sure to order the FOCUS AND FLOW course available at

No comments: