The Ecstatic State of Flow

In India in 2008, under the enlightened guidance of Swami Paramahamsa Nithyananda, I was drawn into a state of consciousness that can at best be described as a profound space of Timelessness. This was an extremely pleasurable state of mind where time itself seemed to move so slowly as to allow me to experience every sensation in my body in its entirety as it flowed and changed from one moment to the next. In this state, even the simplest action of washing my utensils after a meal became an enjoyable eternity of pure Existing.  I was so totally absorbed in whatever I did or observed that I seemed to disappear into the act itself. Not having any better way of describing it or any experience to compare it to, I initially likened it to being in a state of intoxication induced by marijuana.

My teacher laughed when I told him. “I better not tell you what I experience on a daily basis,” he responded. “You’ll be so jealous!” It was a playful reminder that however mind blowing the experience was, it was only the tip of the iceberg.

My practice in the years that followed worked on keeping the experience alive, deepening it, and bringing it to all aspects of my life. It centered upon purification and detoxification of the body, mind and spirit with Yoga and Meditation, the practice of which I continue to this day.

Can anyone experience this state? The answer is a resounding Yes. It is a natural state of being that we have unwittingly wandered away from, and in doing so, we plunged ourselves into a world of resentment, worry, misery, regret and suffering, a personal hell where we feel ourselves separate and disconnected from even our closest friends and family members, and a prison where we are doomed to repeat destructive patterns of hurt on ourselves and others over and over again.

Chances are that you’ve already experienced this state at some point of your life or other.

It is in the moment of awe and wonderment when a scene in nature reveals its beauty and grandeur. It is in the act of the creation of a work of art, poetry, writing or craftsmanship where the creator is so absorbed in his work as to have suspended all thoughts and concerns outside of his or her labor and it feels as if his tools are being moved by a higher power. It is in the Mastery of any activity that then suspends the mundane thought processes of a person to reveal a natural, relaxed awareness that flows effortlessly from moment to moment.

It is effortless effort. It is being in the Zone. It is the Ecstatic State of Flow. It is coming Home.

It is what we’ve always been looking for in our lifelong pursuit of happiness and self fulfillment. We’ve just been looking for it in the wrong place, compulsively acquiring more and more objects and experiences in this world, moving from relationship to relationship and experiencing disappointment at the outcome, thinking that if things just went our way everything will be good.

That which we look for is already existing within us, and it is not a matter of setting the conditions of our external world to a manner of our choosing and satisfaction that will bring us to Happiness. We are all infinitely capable of experiencing this Ecstatic State of Flow irregardless of the drama occurring outside of us, and in doing so, we come to a deeper understanding of who we really are.

In the weeks to come I will share how Asana (posture) practice in Hatha Yoga, when correctly done, can be an invaluable tool to begin your journey. Then there is the practice of meditation and mindfulness. Till then, have a beautiful labor day weekend, and see you on the mat!

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