Mindfulness: Try Creating more FLOW in your Moment to moment Living

Daily Quote: “Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last blockon a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves…The task is to learn how to enjoy everyday life without diminishing other people’s chances to enjoy theirs.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”  – Csikszentmihalyi, 1990

Here are some of the characteristics that comprise THE FLOW EXPERIENCE according to Csikszentmihalyi’s.

Characteristics of flow:

  • Complete focus on the task at hand
  • Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback
  • Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time)
  • The experience is intrinsically rewarding, has an end itself
  • Effortlessness and ease
  • There is a balance between challenge and skills
  • Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination
  • There is a feeling of control over the task

Who experiences flow?

Interestingly, a capacity to experience flow can differ according to personality. Studies suggest that those with ‘’autotelic personalities’’ tend to experience more flow.

A person with an ‘’autotelic personality’’ tends to do things for their own sake rather than chasing some distant external goal or dream. This type of personality is distinguished by certain meta-skills such as high interest in life, persistence, and helping others.

It can be speculated that negative and critical individuals are more prone to anxiety and being self-centered, which are conditions that can block the state of FLOW. In contrast, servant leaders, responsible, considerate and realistic individuals are more likely to spend time on mastering challenging tasks, which are characteristics important for creating the flow experience.

What happens in the brain?

The state of flow has been rarely investigated from a neuropsychological perspective but is a growing interest. According to Dietrich, it has been associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is an area responsible for higher cognitive functions such as self-reflective consciousness, memory, temporal integration, and working memory. It’s an area that’s responsible for our conscious and explicit mind state.

However, in a state of flow, this area is believed to temporarily down-regulate; a process called transient hypofrontality. This temporary inactivation of the prefrontal area may trigger the feeling of distortion of time, loss of self-consciousness, and loss of inner-critic.

Moreover, the inhibition of the frontal lobe may enable the implicit mind to take over, resulting in more brain areas to communicate freely and engage in a creative process. In other research, it’s also hypothesized that the flow state is related to the brain’s dopamine reward circuitry since curiosity is highly amplified.

POEM: Solitude of Summer

Solitude of Summer-by MW Hardwick 
In the solitude of Summerafternoon
I smell the true meaning of life
In the slow gentle rain and wispy breeze of the Hill Country  —
I feel my body relaxing and my heart awakening
In the stillness of my being and sweet smell of a summer rain and
Boggy smells and sounds of Loneman Creek 
I am now one with nature—Self-aware.
I STOP …
One with Nature… 
Take a deep breath … then another…then another
I now feel relaxed.. as the warm rain of Summer engulfs me 
Clear mind. I put a smile on my face.

Hope. Joy and Gratitude flow.

Grounded… in this moment of beauty and —

Solitude…Solitude… Solitude

Being one with Nature…

 

New Poem: Choose the World You Want to Live in.

Choose the World You live-in
Live-in the World You Choose.
– Mark W. Hardwick Ph.D.

                                                                                        

Choose the world you want to live in–by MW Hardwick 

Positive energy, clear focus

Happiness in the “here and now”

Past is past and lessons are learned

Move on and enjoy the comfort of the present

Deep breath counting, relaxed body, mind’s alert and wise

Smile on face and Eyes twinkle,

This focus serves us well.

Softing pain, problems and fears melt away…

This is pleasure of living in the world you choose…

Choose wisely and living is happier…happier…

Lessons form Super Bowl…Executing a Philosophy of Winning Be Loosey-Goosey, In the Moment, Caring and Fun Loving

Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit”.

Russell Wilson Special example of Pete Carroll’s Winning Forever Philosophy– These words describe his core– Belief in Self and Others, Open Communication, Commonsense, Calm demeanor, Caring, Trust and Respect and Great Judgment, 18-25 completions and two touchdowns, not flashy just a solid leader…

Pete Carroll–“To accomplish the grand, you have to focus on the small. To exist in the eternal perspective, you have to live in the moment.” Well said! Ate heart of

 is competition and 24/7 responsibility and accountability, be authentic , caring and competition.

WOW, WOW, WOW………………………Talk about the domination of the Seahawks. The one-sided victory showed the power of the Pete Carroll Philosophy of Caring  and Playing in the Moment. This philosophy will definitely have an impact of the rest of the NFL. If you listened carefully to the interviews after the game you heard and saw the humility and pride of teamwork.  Let me  summarize, the “Winning Forever”  philosophy of Pete Carroll. The four words that capture the essence of the team culture are: Fundamentals, Man for Others, Caring and Respect. This means that “soft skills” as a leadership philosophy is on the ascent to building teams and producing results.  The Seahawks according to all the interviews is a “team of misfits” . What does that mean? It means that most of these players were not given the recognition they thought they deserved. The team is mostly made up of 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th round draft picks and free agents. No stars just players who were committed to do  the best they could with their strengths and determination to reach their potential. Now let’s break down the philosophy:

1. Fundamentals — Know you X’s and O’s…, competition, play to strengths, plan do what you need to do, practice, practice, practice the details, stay focused, alert and execute in the moment.

2. Man for Others–A tenant of Jesuit Teaching –play for others, don’t let your team members down. You need me I am here for you.

3. Caring-Respect–be there for others and take care of them. Build the trust needed to fulfill your dream. Communicate openly and honestly. Let us be who we are, take care of one another and play to our strengths. Constantly learn the lessons present to you.

4. Fun–Enjoy and embrace the moment, celebrate your victories.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Learning Self- Control and Self-Mastery to Live a Life On Purpose

Daily Quote: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Mark Twain

Reflection: All the “stars are aligned” and at that moment someone ask you this question–If you could get paid for something you really love and are skilled at doing it (master). What would you do? What is holding you back? How do you want to get started? What is your commitment level on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)? What do you need to see or what has to happen for you to turn love and dream into action?

If you want to be really good at something, it’s going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone and a significant amount of practice and dedication, usually 10,000 hours, of practicing the right things known and accepting self-doubts and potentially bad things that happen in living a self-directed life. This is true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something, called mastery, is earned through hard work and still can be immensely satisfying once accomplished. Watch this video on self-control which impacts the ability to mastery and personal  changes.

Here, then, are the seven keys to achieving mastery found to be most effective:

  1. Pursue what you love. Passion and conviction” are incredible motivators. They fuel dreams, focus, resilience, and perseverance.
  2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.
  3. Deliberative Practice.    Without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appear to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.
  4. Seek expert coaching and feedback, in small steps and small doses. The clearer and more concise and focused the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments to your thinking and behavior . Too much feedback, given continuously can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, loss of confidence and interference with constructive learning.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense practice not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also helps to embed concepts, behaviors and overall acceleration of learning. It’s also during rest that the right-side of the brain becomes more effective and dominate, which can lead to long-term memory gains and behavioral or creative breakthroughs.
  6. Establish practice leading to new behaviors and habits. Self-discipline and will power are difficult to access without training and practice.ResearcherRoy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of the right amount and kind of will power sustain dramatic personal change. The best way to insure you’ll take on new learning challenges and difficult tasks is to build rituals and new habits — specific, times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to waste energy thinking about them or forcing yourself to do things.
  7. Learn to accept life’s uncertainty, develop mental toughness, be resilient and learn to utilize relax and release techniques. In doing these actions you can access the right focus to live your life on purpose and with meaning.

Self-Challenge: What  are going to do so that you can do the thing you love to do in life? What does your plan look like? When are you going to start? How can the keys to self-mastery help you get where you want to go?

Want to get Start on Mindfulness and Meditation–Try the 5 R Approach its Simple and Works

Follow the 5 R’s for a mindful and simple meditation experience

by FRANK FORENCICH on NOVEMBER 7, 2013

Note: the following is from the upcoming book Beautiful Practice: A whole-life approach to health, performance and the human predicament. (estimated publication: February 2014) by Frank Forencich 

Daily Quote: “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will… An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence”. William James

Frank Forencich goes on to say: “Confused by all the different and complex approaches to meditation? Here is a simple and powerful process : Focus the light of your attention on your breath and keep it there. When your attention wanders, bring it back to your breathing target with compassion and without judgment. (To put it in the simplest possible terms, this form of meditation is sometimes called “aim and sustain.”) This is the foundation practice for developing attentional stability and is the basis for other, more advanced forms of meditation”.

There are many meditation teachers of course and many variations on this theme. Here is one that you might find useful. It’s built on a series of prompts, each word beginning with the letter R. This makes it simple and easy to remember.

This meditation works best when led by a teacher. Students set up a relaxed position and settle in. Once everyone is comfortable, the teacher reads the following script in a calm voice, pausing and editing as desired:

1. Relax your entire body… every cell, every system, every joint, every limb, every organ, every vessel. Relax the core of your body, your abdomen and your torso. Relax into your breath.

2. Release your expectations and sceptic inside … Release your explanations and your commentary…Release your predictions, your calculations and your speculations… Release your ruminations about the past and your worries about the future.

3. Relinquish  and Reduce your attachment to thoughts, ideas, outcomes and points of view… Relinquish your defenses and your judgments…. Relinquish your opinions and your attitudes…reduce your pressure to be perfect and just accept what comes-up.

4. Receive your experience and focus on the  present moment, and all that comes with it… Feel what you’re feeling; experience what you’re experiencing… Allow your body and spirit to be one… Receive the vulnerability, insecurity, the uncertainty, the ambiguity and the emotion of the moment…Receive the gifts and show gratitude for other people’s help, care and love. Show gratitude for the kindness, support and compassion that has come your way…. Receive the totality of your life in whatever form it takes. (Note: see Rumi’s poem The Guest House.)

5. Return your attention to your breath.

Repeat this sequence as many times as desired. As you’ll discover, this guided practice is a form of relaxing work; it guides us through the process with an active, reversed effort. This sets us up to stabilize our attention and further develop our mindfulness.

Try it and let me know how it goes.