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  • Writer's pictureKralingen

Flow in the Now - How to Reach Creative Health

One of the strongest solutions to overcoming creative anxiety is the ability to connect to the now. This means your thoughts don't drift away to the past or the future but stay in the exact moment you are experiencing this instant, in complete focus. Learning how to do this is will not only help you with your recovery, in time it will help you reach that coveted state of flow in your life and creative work. So, let's explore!

Almost all mindfulness courses start the same: zooming in on a single raisin. Usually you are instructed to look at it intensely, examine and describe it completely and experience looking, touching, tasting and eventually eating it to the absolute max. It's a weird and funny exercise that seems totally unnecessary. But in actuality, all that focus is the entire point. Those doctors, musicians, writers, athletes, actors and everybody else who experience the deeply satisfying feeling of 'flow' in their work will know what I'm talking about. Essentially it feels like your body and mind just do what they have to do, without any effort whatsoever. Also, you seem to not think anymore, just feel. Which is an extremely pleasant feeling. That overthinking is of course the big problem with creative anxieties and worse conditions such as burnout and depression. Your mind keeps making up doom scenario's and keeps punishing you... I know the feeling, trust me. So that state of flow may seem far off. But it is something you can practice. And it gives you a double reward. Not only will it distract from those unhelpful thoughts, in time it will help you reach both career and personal heights you never could have imagined.

Okay cool... tell me, how do we get there?

If you wish to come into a state of flow, there are a two things you will need to understand and embrace... yet, you could also skip the first, and flip the script, which I'll get to in a moment.

The first step I highly recommend is that you get your affairs in order, whatever they may be. This includes becoming healthier in your mind and body if need be. But also building in some extra security, making sure your family and friend relationships are in an okay state, or get a job that gives you more financial stability.

Mind you, this doesn't have to be perfect. But for all artists and creatives across the board, I have noticed that not having your affairs in order at least partially, is the number one cause for creative blockages and a lack of success. We tend to think we need less security in our lives than others, and maybe this is true for you... but you'll at least need some basic assurances. You are still human. Trust me, it helps.

Those who do have their 'normal' lives in order, are usually also those who have a stronger sense of creative agency and ownership, which is something I recommend exploring through this Creative Ownership article I wrote on it, because it will strengthen your sense of purpose.

The second thing that is crucial is a very high awareness and deep connection of and to your physical body. In fact, the better this connection, the less you'll need that first step of getting your affairs in order. Up to the point you could even skip it, as I noted before, since a heightened physical awareness calms the nerves in such ways that we don't need many securities any more, we just 'go for it' and all doubt is erased.

Yet to reach that point one needs to really be one with the body. Why? Because being in a tight connection with your physical self automatically puts your mind in the 'now', hence bringing forth that most crucial thing of flow: being fully present in the moment with your art and have the ability to fully tap into universal creative energy.

Techniques to pick and choose for reaching flow

For some, they can train this presence through relaxation techniques. Think going to the spa, doing a meditation, a yin yoga class, a mindfulness training. For others, a more active approach will be the right step to get your mind in the 'now', such as martial arts and boxing (the risk of being punched will snap you in the present) or sports such as climbing or surfing (the danger or cold water will snap you to the present). Making love helps too, if of course this is in the cards for you. Another way of approaching it is doing mind-sports that require a great deal of concentration and focus in the now, such as playing chess.

What to avoid are things that bring you in a fantasy world such as series or films or video games. Or scrolling on your phone on social media... Sure, they are all fun, and require focus too, but they don't have a connection to the real world, which you will need to reach flow.

Also, discussions or events or work that talks about imagining the future will not help you stay in the present. The same goes for lingering in the past, in whatever way, shape or form. The saying goes that anxious people have a mind that is too focused on (what can go wrong in) the future, while depressed people have too much focus on what has happened in the past. Both live in a world that they cannot change and have no control over. Hence, both don't live in the now.

The more however you use techniques to train you to be in the present moment, the more the muscle memory of the mind will guide you towards that, and the more often you will reach flow.

And as a bonus, the more you will let go of the need to control.

So, there you have it. The more you let go, the more you will reach a state of flow.

Love, as always.


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