Exploring the Art of Being ‘In the Zone’ – A Buddhist Perspective
Coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1975), the concept of Flow or ‘In the Zone’ is defined as a fully immersed, pleasurable experiential state that occurs when an individual is fully absorbed in the process of an activity. The experience of flow to be influential in the development of an individual requires an ongoing balance of challenge and skill, immediate feedback and clear goals. Since our self-image is a psychological construct, it requires effort and time to build, develop and maintain a skill. Buddhism as a religion was originated in India 2,500 years ago. Studies in positive psychology, neuroscience and cognitive science have yielded numerous findings from this ancient wisdom tradition, both collectively and personally, that can contribute to the improvement of our world. The principles of flow as listed by Csikszentmihalyi can be observed in the scriptures of Buddhism - attention to the present moment, decreased attachment to self and cultivation of calm emotions. Cultivating mindfulness, attention with practice, is likely to increase an individual’s chances of experiencing flow state. During the flow state, a sense of self disappears yet there is a vivid feeling of experiencing present moment. Paradoxically, there is an experience of ‘no self’ and ‘only self’ referred in Zen Buddhism as ‘not two but one self.’ This concept was further termed as Mindflow. The present study aims to explore the concept of flow, it’s components and their connection with respect to the concepts in Buddhism and most importantly, how can one cultivate the art of flow.
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