How to Stay in the Flow

Separation of Mind and Feelings (Exiting Flow)

Sometimes when feelings change direction, our mind can remain fixed on where we thought we were going to go. This seems to be one of the main ways we exit flow. That said, returning our attention to our feelings can help us return to flow.

Ok, first of all, what is flow? I’d say that when I talk about flow, I’m talking about a kind of experience, one where it feels as though we’re fluidly moving along, rather than in starts and stops. But what is moving fluidly? Well, perhaps it is one’s mind, since the mind can also become fixated or get stuck on one topic or another. It seems to me, though, that one thing that is always flowing fluidly, even as we fight it mentally, is our feelings. Why is this? It seems as though feelings seem to flow from one moment to the next because they change in response to what’s going on in the moment. One moment to another…

Well speaking of which, my feelings just changed on this topic, because it feels to me like I’m trying to describe things I don’t fully understand. The thing is, I had a strategy in that last paragraph, in terms of what I was going to talk about. I was going to define flow, and how feelings flow and how the mind can get stuck… but truth is, I’m not positive on those details. But what I do know is that feelings can inspire unexpected changes in direction, and that when I talk about “flow”, what I’m really talking about is the ability to flow with those unexpected directions. Maybe you don’t always take those directions, but perhaps there is something to consider in the way one’s feelings change. One can observe feelings, be aware of them, and strive to better understand them through techniques like expression of those feelings.

Staying in the flow, for me, amounts to staying close to one’s feelings. That experience is like a flow, and we, present to our feelings, can flow along with them.

Many times, though, we can get stuck. We stop flowing. Why?

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Fear of Feelings

Before I talk about the fear of feelings, let me start with an anecdote:

Like a microwave emitting unexplained sounds, sometimes our feelings can bring something that feels scary into our experience of life

Like a microwave emitting unexplained sounds, sometimes our feelings can bring something that feels scary into our experience of life

A few days before writing this article, I was microwaving some food, and as I was walking away from the microwave, I heard a strange sound, like something inside the microwave was breaking. I made a joke of it in my mind at first, but when I heard it again I became concerned about what was actually causing it. Was the microwave really breaking? Should I stop reheating my food?

I went to check and it turned out that it was just some paper towel that was in there on the plate, catching on the edge of the microwave’s walls as the plate was trying to turn. The sound was just the plate trying to turn when the paper towel was getting in its way. At this point, I knew that it probably wasn’t a problem after all, because a stuck plate  was something I had seen before. And from my experience, a microwave could handle that, so there was no cause to intervene.

It occurred to me that this was a great example for how fear works. From my experience with dealing with fear, it’s mostly due to a lack of information that fear takes and keeps its hold, especially in situations where we don’t know how to gather more information. What we’re afraid of is like the sound in the microwave: something difficult to explain, and potentially concerning, that occurs within our experience. Something changes. Continue reading

Oliver’s Oct 2014 “Life Philosophies”

Recently, a family member asked me for a write-up of my life philosophies as a birthday present. What I ended up writing seemed to have a lot to do with what I write about here on this site, and was sort of a concatenation of some of the main ideas that I work with, have noticed, and feel confident enough in to share with others. Continue reading

Inner Conflicts: A Potential Cause of Depression

How Solving Inner Conflicts can Bring us out of Depression

How Solving Inner Conflicts can Bring us out of a Depressed State

Disclaimer: The model in this article attempts to describe how depression, as well as other conditions such as recklessness, shame, upset, and a lack of fulfillment may emerge. However, I just want to add a disclaimer that I don’t know if this model is 100% correct. It’s just a theory. Sufficient evidence might disprove parts or all of it, just as any theory or way of viewing reality can later be disproved. Continue reading

Beauty in the Emptiness

Even when nothing else is there, you are there.

Even when nothing else is there, you are there.

In today’s culture, it’s very easy to find things to be entertained by. And I’m not saying anything’s wrong with that! The experiences created through our senses can be pleasant, nice, or even beautiful. Watching a sunset, talking with a friend, listening to our favorite pieces of music, eating our favorite foods.

But what if we could have none of that? What if it all suddenly vanished or was torn away, and we were left alone, with nothing, nobody, nor a way of experiencing those things? Continue reading

The Importance of Making Mistakes

Made a mistake, but it's ok

The ability to freely make mistakes, messes, or accidents without being punished for them can be a beautiful thing.

No, this isn’t going to be a post about how to turn mistakes into success, or how mistakes are really just a precursor to success. This isn’t about learning from mistakes, and it’s not about how mistakes aren’t really as bad as you think they might be. This is about the gift of giving yourself the freedom to make outrageous mistakes and accept yourself anyway. Continue reading

How Finding What You Love can Overcome Fear

Have you ever thought about facing a fear of yours, but then never did?

Risks are easier to accept when we love what we're striving for.

Risks are easier to accept when we love what we’re striving for.

What stopped you? Were you OK with the fact that you didn’t face it?

Partly due to the glorification of courage and heroism in today’s culture, not facing our fears can cause us to feel guilty, or at the very least uncomfortable about our decisions. And yet, do you think that your decisions to avoid potential dangers really are that bad?

I mean, there’s a whole lot of good that can come from listening to your fear! You won’t perform dangerous stunts, you’ll be more cautious, and in most cases, you’ll increase your chances for survival. Continue reading