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Components of Flow
Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following as accompanying an experience of flow:
Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).
Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.
So, how well does your aikido practice fit into each of the above?
What changes might you put into your aikido practice to have more of each of the above?
10-12-2008, 03:40 PM
I view flow from a couple of view points. Flow to me seems to include a lack of internal conflict with mind and body to the point of a no-mind zen like concept. This to me is like his Number 3. It also goes to the concept of what I like to refer to as the unconsciously competent realm. In other words, it happens so easily within oneself that to understand the flow you have to sit down and analyze it to actually realize what is taking place. This realm covers many of his other numbers in the sense that they are components of the unconsciously competent category.
Wow! gee...that is a tall order. That is allot to happen and I don't know if mentally I could i.d. all that at anytime while in motion. I guess for me it is one of those things, either it happens or it doesn't. The process of i.d.ing flow is first the conscious stuff that goes through my mind of that doesn't feel right. Knowing there is and isn't friction or hinderance when there should or shouldn't be. I translate or receive the subconscious monitoring information in terms far less technically intellectual.
Because if I where to process that subconscious information stuff on a highly intellectual communication I think for one it would a hinderance in its self if one part of my brain wants to get important info fast to another part of my brain which isn't responsible for upper-level brain functions that deal with high level intellectual processes. The higher brain would dumb it down to the other brain so that the information is process quickly so the body can make adjustments. Otherwise, I am afraid, it would be a waste, thus I would probably sit down then and think about it, instead of keep moving and adjusting to get the right feel for flowing.
Over intellectualizing is I feel some times an Aikido occupational hazard. I don't know what O'Sensei's i.q. was, but certainly his teacher Takeda was said to be illiterate, uneducated. Not saying Takeda wasn't intelligent but rather he wasn't an intellectual scholar. I don't if O'Sensei was considered one either. Point being is the less we take Aikido to the books and instead to the mat it may work better. If my flow is off, I my body will feel it, not my higher brain functions- it get it after the fact.
Don't know how valid that was. I am not a specialist in the human body. Nor am I an intellectual scholar, for that matter. Just some guy whose kitten keeps climbing across his key board looking for attention. Kittens purr so cute. It's late, but that is my view it is fun to analyze and intellectualize, though your body really has to feel it- that process of mind and body unity.
I guess it fits on subconscious level but not in the forefront of my awareness. If it did I would go down like a new born colt trying to stand. To our credit I think humans are the other creature on earth that intellecualize as we do, to the good and the bad. That is after we learn to walk. :)
10-13-2008, 10:15 AM
Every so often I get a glimpse, only a glimpse. Then its gone.
When I look or try, I can't find or make it.
When I enjoy the training and let it, it comes by itself.
So much for the control issue.
10-13-2008, 10:21 AM
Interesting comparison. Here are my 2c:
Generally, I think that the list is a bit off, in regard to both aikido and the arts. I think that flow increases when there is less struggle, tension, and ambition.
1 Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).
There should be no clear goals in a :do:,or it will not lead to anything more than you already know.
2 Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
Naah... Concentration and focus are there, spontaneously. But if they are consciously strived for, they tend to block the flow.
3 A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
True - and this really contradicts 1 and 2 above.
4 Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
True. Time is of no importance, but timing is.
5 Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
True, but the feedback is felt, more than intellectually concluded. Also adjusting is something intuitional rather than conscious.
6 Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
I don't know. When you're in the flow, everything seems possible :)
7 A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
Yes. A sense of it, precisely. But no need to dwell on it.
8 The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
Absolutely. The joy of riding the flow.
9 People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.
Yes, that's what it feels like, in the process of it. But the awareness is actually expanded. So much more is learned than what meets the eye. It is important not to consciously narrow down one's awareness, or this expansion will not happen.
10-13-2008, 01:46 PM
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_state: So, how well does your aikido practice fit into each of the above?
The above pretty much define why I train. I'm too ADD to meditate, but the modest technical requirements, the surmountable challenge, the intrinsic pleasure of training...that's what it's all about for me.
What changes might you put into your aikido practice to have more of each of the above?-- Jun
I take Saito and Saotome as opposite ends of a teaching spectrum--step-by-step in the case of Saito, all intuition in the case of Saotome. Both work for advancing this feeling.
FWIW, I think Flow in Sports: The keys to optimal experiences and performances by Susan A. Jackson (Author), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Author) is far more useful (as regards training, anyway) to the martial artist today than the Takuan/Yagyu dialog (still quite good, nevertheless, for understanding how spirituality might be linked with a seeming antithesis, martial art).
10-13-2008, 05:36 PM
I find that for threads involving flow I always bring up links to video games. This one's a little different:
It is the culmination of thesis research for master of fine arts by one Jenova Chen, you can read her thesis here:
Brings you to the start of the research, but the introduction page has a nice plot graphic describing flow as the balance point between challenge and ability (halfway down):
Her work is apparently largely based on Csíkszentmihályi, her work may even be linked from the wiki page, or perhaps should be.
The book "Zen of Tennis" might apply to this discussion.
10-15-2008, 06:28 AM
The book "Zen of Tennis" might apply to this discussion.
There is a lot in the sport psychology literature about flow states and peak performance, along with some practical suggestions on how to get there. Feel free to read outside the box.
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