It’s always been fun to do things. Irrespective of what it was that I might decide to do, I noticed a common pattern that continued from thing to thing.
When I tried, I failed.
This isn’t a joke, although it is funny.
It’s funny because trying is considered to be the way to go. Do your best, do everything you can, work your hardest, each of these has something to do with effort. And the idea that the more effort we put in, the better the results will be.
This is perhaps partly true, but also wholly false.
Why partly true?
Well, if you are trying, concentrating is better than half-assing it, probably.
Why wholly false?
Because it has to do with where concentration comes from. Or more precisely, where pure concentration, or “flow state” comes from.
Flow state, is just a phrase, is that feeling you get into when you lose yourself in something, to the point where you’re just so in love with expressing yourself through it, that the end results do not figure in your consideration.
Or that’s how I understand it.
Some guy wrote about not trying. That was inspirational.
Not trying, sounds really paradoxical. How can we really begin to do things well if we aren’t concentrating on what we’re doing, or even if we are, through this flow state you talk of, then what about all the information? Surely we have to “think” that information into our heads first, and that means mental effort, hence trying?
Well, that might be true, if it weren’t for the subconscious. The subconscious in our brain-as well as the rest of our bodies (which I won’t Factor in here), occupy a large function of our total processing power.
Yet, isn’t it so weird that we are not actually conscious of what we are thinking in our subconscious, as it thinks? To put things more succinctly, isn’t it a wonder that most of the brain activity going on, we are not even conscious of?
That’s a bit of a mind boggling thing. It’s really easy to assume that since we can “hear our thoughts”, that we can somehow “know” all of the things going on inside our head, all the processing, all the calculations, connections, intuitions – that somehow these are all readily available to us since we can see some “thoughts”. But that’s only the tip of a large iceberg. We have a boatload more information, that we are not conscious of.
This has some references in terms of people waking up from comas speaking new languages, people having memories they never lived through, but also it just has to do with all the information in our intellect that isn’t at the surface. Like things you learnt 6 years ago. How much of the stuff you learned 6 years ago, whether by looking at your phone one day, reading the paper, talking to a friend, listening to a teacher speak, or even something you intuited back then – how much of that do you think still exists in your head? It might be tempting to say “not a lot”, since it’s hard to recall anything from something you learnt on a particular day 6 years ago (at least on the spot [at least for me]). But what if we actually kept a lot more than we thought?
And what if, while this information was sitting there, all that time, it was also processing, forming intuitions with other information (like thinking under the surface if you like)?
If I were to be right, then it might beg the question, “but how do we access this information, if it’s in our subconscious?».
Well, by interacting in a deeper way with our minds – with our subconscious. By meditating, by mindfulness, zen, call it what you want. But essentially, what it boils down to is keeping your mind in a place of calm, quiet, subsequent order, and dexterity.
This calm and quiet, allows us to hear, or notice, or receive – the information in our subconscious. In my experience, it has (although I’m a noob in meditation, no expert lol) – this has nonetheless allowed me to access a deeper level of thinking. I would tell anyone that listened at those times that my intelligence, whatever it was sitting at, went up threefold. This was just from using my mind in the proper way.
And is this so outlandish?
When sports stars get ready to race – what do they do? They stretch, they relax – they let themselves go – not so as to sleep on the start line – but so as to make sure that their muscles are loose, and ready to let fly.
Suppose one of the coaches runs up to the athletes start line and starts putting pressure on the athlete. They are unlikely to run their best race.
Could the same be true of thinking, and our approach to it?
In this sense, meditation would be like a “mental stretching”, before a race, or just whatever you’re doing. This is pretty commonly accepted.
But what I really want to talk about is flow state, and how do achieve this. I’m not expert on this here, but I’ll do my best to explain my experience.
The first thing, is to give up.
You might think this is ludicrous, how can anybody do anything if they give up before they’ve even started? Surely it’s better to believe in yourself, right?
Well, giving up in this case doesn’t mean giving up on yourself, but it does mean give up on your “self”- your ego.
The ego is that voice in your head that tells you you’re cool, or lame, or that you need attention, or that there’s something you NEED to do, and that it needs done yesterday.
And it’s also that thing that tells you that you NEED to try.
Essentially, the ego is emotional resistance to what’s going on inside you, or around you. It’s basically the voice in your head that tells you that “something needs to change”, and that you can’t be at peace until that happens.
This doesn’t include all – it doesn’t pertain gut feelings, which I believe should generally be listened to.
It’s more about mental frustration, and emotional resistance. The bottom line, is that this resistance holds back your flow state.
Because in order to enter into a flow state, your mind needs to be blank. The second that you “try” to get somewhere, it creates a mental block, an emotional resistance, which stops things from flowing as they might.
The trick also is to give up, and continue giving up – even if things start to look like they’re getting somewhere. Here, the temptation is to start thinking again, and the ego to start claiming credit for things which are happening beyond its control.
Here, it’s again, the process of surrendering to never getting credit for what’s happening, not “flexing” for what’s going on.
This helps to maintain things.
The same goes for if it looks like things aren’t getting anywhere. The temptation here is for the ego to complain, to say “what’s the point, this is shit, what a waste of time”, and such like. Again, it’s about surrendering, letting go, and being prepared to move into shitville, because, really, it’s not a real place, it’s just your ego telling you something, 2 minutes after which it will tell you the exact opposite thing, over and over and over again, until you die.
Unless we can transcend this ego, we will be impeded in using our brains in a flow state.
This flow state could apply to anything – arts, computer logic, whatever you’re doing – it’s not about any particular one thing, but about you, and your relationship or (zen) focus on that thing.
I believe it could apply to any activity whatsoever. It’s basically about achieving higher functioning and self-realisation and fulfilment and happiness, all rolled into one.
Call it what you want, a confidence trick, a mindset, a religion or a lie.
It’s ultimately about us, and it goes right to the heart of who we are. That’s really fcking cool.