Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chasing the Flow- Perhaps why we surf.

I am continually thinking of a "reason" as to why I surf. The one answer I repeatedly come to relates to the connectedness to the moment I experience when surfing.

Flow is the psychology of optimal experience that articulated by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi along with Martin Seligman, Ph.D., is one of the founders of the positive psychology movement. Positive Psychology has gained considerable attention over the past decade in both the theoretical and empirical psychological literature. Flow is the phenomenological state that emerges when an individual is in a state of complete involvement in a given activity. When in the state of flow, the individual ceases to be “detached” from the given experience and for the period, the only relevant reality that exists is in the given moment being experienced. It has been argued that Flow experiences help to integrate the self because when in the state of deep concentration, consciousness is unusually well ordered. Thoughts, intentions, feelings and all the senses are focused on the same goal. Experience is in harmony. These benefits are highly consistent with gains noted from meditative states. When the flow episode is over, one feels more integrated or whole than prior to the experience, not only internally but also with respect to the individual’s engagement with others and to the world in general.

How does it feel to be in "the flow"? Does this sound like surfing to you?
1) Completely involved, focused, concentrating - with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training
2) Sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality
3) Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
4) Knowing the activity is achievable, that is that the skill sets are adequate, and the activity elicits neither anxiety or boredom
5) Sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible
6) Timeliness - thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing
7) Intrinsic motivation - whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward

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