Have you ever been so fully engaged in an activity that all awareness of the outside world stops?
This is a psychological state called flow. Someone in a state of flow will lose all sense of time and self-consciousness as they devote every ounce of concentration to the task at hand. It’s said to be a lot like meditation.
When I first started looking into this subject, I thought it was only something that happened to people in a state of active performance — musicians, athletes, maybe even actors. The book Zen and the Art of Archery, a basic how-to guide on harnessing flow, has been used and adapted for musicians and athletes for years. When you’re in the act of performing, thinking can sometimes even be a hindrance. Flow is essential for a good performance.
But according to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the pioneer researcher of this psychological phenomenon, it happens to almost everyone. Painters, writers, poets, business executives, computer gamers. There are stories about Michaelangelo going into a state of flow while painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — he painted for days straight, never taking breaks for food or sleep.
What activities send you into a state of flow? What does flow feel like to you?
The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.