OK, so I’ve been going on a bit about mindfulness for some time now. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. She’s gone mad — eaten too many raisins or something. I know it may look that way, but I’m really certain that it can help you in the most profound way.
Let me qualify that. I’m not talking about just the being-present, eating-your-raisins-mindfully kind of mindfulness. I’m talking about something much more than that. I’ve been privileged to partner with someone who has lived mindfulness and who has taken it to the next level — my co-founder in the Practical Mindfulness program, high-performance life and executive coach Neil Bierbaum.
The first time I saw Neil present this introduction to the subject of flow, I was as captivated as the rest of the live audience were. I just knew I had to share it. Thankfully, he’s created a video of it, and kindly agreed to share it with us! I’m sure you’ll agree that he takes a most original approach to the topic, one that I know you’ll all appreciate and find inspiring in these challenging times.
It’s not just a talking head video, so look out for the impactful images. So here’s the video, and what follows is the text version from the Practical Mindfulness book that he wrote and which I co-authored. Take it away, Neil!
Here’s the related text from the Practical Mindfulness book:
DO YOU experience life as a constant struggle where very little seems to go your way? Do you find yourself having to apply a lot of effort, even force, to get things done? Do you struggle to come to terms with the tide of events and the way things are going?
The fashionable approach to this subject is to say that the entire universe is always conspiring in your favour—you only have to get into the right “hum” and you’ll attract everything you want and need. Well, that’s if you believe The Secret. But let’s face it, the universe has been around for billions of years. It wasn’t waiting for you so that it could serve you like it was some giant slot machine.
That took you by surprise, didn’t it? OK, let’s get serious. What if both views are true at the same time? In other words, it’s another of those dual-perspective challenges. Whichever you’re looking for is what you’ll see. In other words, if you approach your position in the universe from an outside-in, statistical probability perspective, you shouldn’t even exist, and the universe, with its exploding stars, cares nought for you. However, if you look from the inside-out, you could say that this entire creation, from start to finish and from limitless end to limitless end, had to exist in order for you to have the experience that you’re having right now. Isn’t that a marvellous thought?!
From the outside-in perspective, life appears to be a dangerous and meaningless struggle. From the inside-out perspective, it’s a nurturing and meaningful miracle. (Ever wonder where heaven and hell are? What if they’re all around you, and your perspective creates them?!) What if life is both dangerous and nurturing at the same time and, whichever it is for you, depends, not only on the perspective you choose, but also the actions you take?
That last point is potentially very empowering—it implies that there’s something you can do about it. Well, according to years of scientific research, in particular by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, it’s apparently true. There is something you can do about it. The state of flow—that optimal experience where you feel in tune with and supported by all of life—is real and it’s within your power.
The even better news is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more flow you experience, the more inclined you will be to believe—based on evidence—that all of life is designed to support you having this experience right now and, consequently, the more meaning and fulfilment you will experience.
This doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that it falls out of the sky. It’s more like the concept of a flywheel. Getting a flywheel to turn requires the input of external energy—which requires effort and commitment—at first. Once it’s gained momentum, it spins easily on its own without having to add more energy or effort. Instead, it can deliver energy more smoothly and beyond the capacity of its energy source.
Similarly, the state of flow can be activated and sustained by your own actions, which, yes, requires an initial input of effort and commitment.
Read on and discover how to apply your mindfulness experience in a way that can activate and sustain the flow state, and thereby transform your experience of life.
Source: Practical Mindfulness by Neil Bierbaum & Dr Colinda Linde, p.187-188.
Follow this link to find out more about the book and the Practical Mindfulness program – live and online versions.