At nearly a third of the way through my 100 days journey into meditation I am experiencing a few changes in myself already. Among these changes, some of the most prominent are reduced stress and anxiety, a deeper sense of satisfaction with my personal well-being, and an automatic sense of knowing that things will work out, even at times when things seem especially challenging (i.e., I’m worrying a lot less).
But one of the most remarkable things that I’ve noticed is an increased ability to enter a meditative state quickly and easily. I don’t necessarily get into this state of mind every time that I meditate and sometimes it may take the first 10-15 minutes of a 20 minute session, but it’s happening more frequently. A handful of times, I’ve spent almost an entire meditation session in this blissful state.
Reaching this altered state of consciousness can, especially in the early days of meditation practice, seem impossible if not completely mythical. But, this state does exist and, like anything else, consistent practice and training will pay off and show you the way. Then, the meditative state not only becomes accessible, but eventually, easy to attain.
I’ve experienced similar states at other times in my life, most often on my yoga mat when I’m practicing on my own or in front of a class, even when I’m walking around the room calling out the sequence while watching and adjusting students. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s an amazing and deeply profound experience.
When it does happen, there’s this sense of a shift in awareness that takes place and everything moves at a different pace, in a way that almost feels like I’m watching from an outside perspective. The energy in the room changes and becomes palpable. Even if I don’t have a specific practice outlined, I just know where to take the class through the practice and it feels like I’m less of a teacher and more of a conduit to something greater than myself. I know that my students have felt this altered consciousness too, as some of them have expressed this to me after classes.
This altered state or effortless concentration, known as flow is experienced in an amazing variety of ways, not just in yoga and meditation.
The concept of flow was first recognized and studied by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and his colleagues in the 1980’s and 90’s when he became fascinated by artists who would essentially get lost in their work. Since then, it’s been studied more in-depth by countless other researchers and is beginning to gain momentum.
“You’ve all experienced a Flow State. You may have called it something else, you may not have had a name for it. Abraham Maslow called them peak experiences; Jim Fixx back in the 70’s called it a runner’s high; Phil Jackson, the Lakers’ and Bulls’ coach calls it being in the zone; Miles Davis, John Coltrane called it being in the pocket.
“But regardless of what we call it, the experience is the same, time slows down or speeds up. A three-hour conversation with a dear old friend or an amazing first date that goes by in what feels like 15 minutes; five seconds barrelled in a wave that feels like five minutes; my self disappears; action and awareness merge; the be-er and do-er become the same thing. And even if we just glimpse it, we spend the rest of our lives looking for it again.”
Jamie Wheal – Hacking the GENOME of Flow
The Flow State is a fascinating phenomenon that can, today, actually be measured with modern scientific tools and research. We can see which areas of the brain are affected during these moments, what pulse rates and electrical signals are being sent through the body and so much more. Now, we are beginning to learn how to take these experiences that seemed so obscure and almost mystical into an age where we may, before long, be able to understand and control.
I feel like practicing meditation is a vital tool for connecting with flow and the key to making flow prevalent in our lives. Honing the mind in such a way that we gain access and control could be a powerful trait to acquire and could change our lives in distinctly dramatic ways. Meditation is the way that the ancient and modern-day ascetics gained divine insights and glimpses at what life beyond what we can see is like.
I am truly looking forward to the insights that the next 70 days of meditation has in store for me.
Namaste Lovely Reader <3