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I remember one day rushing between meetings, doing the "corporate power shuffle", and I caught a reflection of myself in the window of HSBC bank. Something in that moment of time cut through the facade, and I saw quite clearly a reflection of a person who was not me. It stopped me dead in my tracks.
City-boy staring, agape at the window, in a moment of schizophrenic bafflement.
“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you're about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you're wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, 'I haven't touched you yet.”
Surfing is one of our favourite gateways to flow. The complexity of riding the raw energy of an ever-changing wave focuses the mind like few other activities do. When we achieve flow we feel what is possible by unleashing our full human potential. Training the mind through meditation and other mind-body practices can help bring this flow out of the ocean and into every day life.
Zanshin is a term used frequently in the Japanese martial and creative arts. . Zanshin is where the mind is fully vigilant, mindful of surroundings, completely present during every moment in the here and now. There is no mind left over to think, as there is total awareness on the action of the moment. I learned all about it when stuck in neck deep snow in Japan...
When I look back I realise that Steve was in a state of flow. At that moment in time his skills and life experience met the challenge of the situation with exquisite grace.
Steve’s ability to slip into a state of high performance made a lasting impression on me. How was he able to be so calm? How could he make such rational and wise decisions in the heat of such a scary moment? How was it that this moment of extreme pressure triggered a response of relaxed focus?
As a surfer you take the rough with the smooth. It’s not all glassy waves, barrels and hi-5’s. Pushing outside the comfort zone means paying the price. A wave can offer you bliss and euphoria... or beat you up, hold you down and can cause anything from mild fright to full-blown panic. It is probably fair to say that 99% of these hairy moments are caused by the thought of not having enough breath, the fear of our physical limitations.
Flow research struck a chord in me because I had experienced many episodes of heightened awareness and focus when I was surfing and snowboarding. I didn't know I was in flow at the time but many of these instances stick in my memory as peak moments in my life. On certain occasions, when my focus was sharp and the challenge was high, my levels of involvement in my activity would go to another realm, my immersion in the act would go from physical to mental to something else..
Each and every one of us has experienced flow in our lives. You may not recognise it as flow, or you may already be a flow connoisseur. Flow, also known as "the zone" or a Peak experience, is a state of heightened immersion in an activity which leads to vastly improved performance and enjoyment. In flow the activity you are engaged in captures your attention so much that the rest of the world seems to disappear. Time flies by, or slows down, you lose your sense of self and you do things better. Read on for more about flow and Flowstate Adventure.