• megna paula

Flow State.

What happens deep in a practice state?

Our current system is set up so that most yoga students will never know. Dependent on online, instructor-cued, classes that capitalize on our need for novelty. When this is the only format for “yoga” that we are exposed to (and this is likely— because the subscription based system makes most money for the providers and is easiest format for yoga dabblers/consumers), we will never know the magic of being deep in a practice state.

But when we have the curiosity to explore the more meditative approaches to yoga practices, embody the inner fortitude necessary for daily discipline, and overcome the need for novelty in the pursuit for mastery, then we find the magic of the flow state.

Overcoming the barriers to the flow state becomes easier with repetition: over the course of months, years, decades, the flow state becomes a familiar inner-place to enter and leave at will. It is a realm of inner life where space is abundant, and time is absent. The surface thoughts, the passage of which create psychological time, fade in volume and intensity, giving way to a current of consciousness that wash the body-mind with feelings, sensations, intuitions, and insights that are deeper and realer than our sober or drug-enhanced perceptions of daily life.

This is the difference between the meditative and the medicated states: in the former, we experience a stillness that intensifies life.

Most drugs will either create a stillness that dulls the user to catatonia/apathy, or creates an artificial intensity of motion that feels more like frenzy/arrogance. Mediative practices can be used in this way as well. Sitting for long amounts of time can drop the practitioner into dreamy, ineffective states. Intense practice of asana can over stimulate the nervous system. This is why yogic traditions strongly, seriously (never gently or circumspectly) instruct students to work closely with an experienced, enlightened teacher rather than experimenting with books and other second hand forms of knowledge.

Yoga videos do not come with this sort of warning. It would impede sales revenue.

The flow state comes with an alert receptivity to all that is within and without us. There is focused awareness, and a stillness of mind that embraces movement of body. With the cessation of normal thought patterns, and increased receptivity to inner and surrounding sensations, we experience insight: flashes of direct perception. Rather than a “figuring out”, insight is instant and often formless or form free, taking on language or visual only when we look closely at it or reflect upon them later. These are true knowings, or knowings of truth, more akin to poetry than prose.

With the depth of flow state consciousness comes a new skill: entry, and exit.

The importance of savasana comes into play with the exit from flow state and re-entry into prosaic life, where most humans do not experience the flow state. Immediately after a deep practice, we experience a period of time where intuitions come readily. We feel peaceful and rejuvenated by the practice, which released energy, and the rest, which is when the body-mind integrate the effects of the practice.

From the intuitive state, which is prime for creating art and loving connections with other people, we naturally desire a refueling (water, light food) and then find ourselves in a high energy productive state. The mind is clear, the body is fluent with restful energy, and we can come back to both psychological and clock time without pressure, depression, or anxiety.

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