Tag Archives: Flow State


I stink at vacations.  I can’t sit still.   I can’t relax.   Frankly, there is very little room for “ease” in my life.   It is an area I really need to work on, just ask my wife, my ex, my parents, my children, whomever.   If you want to go on vacation with me, be prepared to be busy, and be busy for busy sake.  Even when I go to a museum or on a tour.   I’ve got to do and learn everything, I don’t want to waste what might be my last chance to learn something unique… even if I forget much of what I saw the next week when I’m busy being busy about something else.
Interestingly, last January I had my brain mapped and then in May I did some brain training.  This was done by a company called Senselabs, who currently optimizes the brain performance of olympic and professional athletes by helping them get into and maintain a “flow state” while performing.
Proudly, while reviewing my results, the neurologist noted that I was one of ten “athletes” out of a thousand that had not made a mistake while scoring, i.e. I pushed the button when I should have and didn’t when I shouldn’t have.   I mumbled something about the years of training as a fighter pilot, yada, yada, yada.   Then he said “that isn’t necessarily good…”    Whoa….. What?
He said it was obvious that I came from a job that making mistakes was highly devalued… yea, you know dying, get shot down, and all that!
He then noted that my responses were slower than average, and many athletes (and creative professionals) need to accept making mistakes in the process of rapid improvement and their responses were therefore MUCH faster than mine.
Then we broke out my brain map.  “Look here, you have world class focus, but over here, you have very little ability to relax between actions.  You are VERY intense.  Therefore, your  reaction speed and stress recovery are low”  “If we would build a brain training program for you, we would need to teach your brain how to slow down, relax, even for micro-seconds between tasks.”   He pretty much defined my world, stupid brain map!
So, recently, I attended a presentation by a Berkeley PhD (Christine Carter) who studies happiness and children.    I’ll get into her insights in another blog, but one of the three critical aspects of the happiness “sweet spot” is around “ease.”   The other two are “grit” and “connection.”
So my dilemma is living a life of “dis-ease”.    Meaning I have a problem finding ease in my life.     Many chronic disease are long-term stress responses which create long-term inflammatory conditions caused by disease, like heart disease, cancer, alcoholism, etc…   When we continue to abuse our bodies with stress, we risk long term stress responses.   Providing “ease” (to our bodies, our brain, our heart, etc) is really really important to our health AND happiness.
OK, yes I’m hypocritically writing this while sitting at the pool on vacation.   So, to take my words to heart, I’m now putting down he computer and I’m going to do my best to “ease” into “EASE”…  My wish for you is to find those moments of ease in your lives even if it is in those micro-moments between activities.
Blessings – Pierre

Resistance Is Futile

I love this title. It reminds me of the Star Trek Federation’s nemesis, the Borg. The were assimilating everything in their path, telling those that try to undermine their effort, “resistance is futile.”   Interestingly, it is the futility of resistance that often prevents us from achieving the meaning, peace, and love we seek!

As I have progressed into meditation, one of the many benefits is the metaphors that Meditation highlights in our life.

I have been using a meditation app called Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/). Headspace is a Guided Meditation that helps build mediation skills (as self-diagnosed ADD, I have continued to tell myself that mediation is difficult of if not impossible for people that have limited attention).

One of the lessons that Andy, the guru, teaches us in Headspace is to let go of our resistance. He begins by having us take notice of our surroundings, connect to where we are sitting, and hear the noises of our immediate environment. Later, he also leads us in gaining awareness of our bodies tension, our emotional stressors, and finally, our spiraling thoughts. Eventually, through acceptance of these truths, we can move pass them toward the creativity, peace, or the spiritual connection we seek.

So, I was sitting in the Dental chair this week, and as I was being prodded, I became acutely aware of an incredible tension in my body.  My arms and feet were crossed, my glutes were tight, and my jaw was trying to clench down upon the hygienist’s finger.  The tighter I got, the more anxiety I felt.   In recognition of this state, I tried to let go. I consciously relaxed my body and loosened my jaw and then my mind.  Wonderfully, the next 45 minutes became, let us say, tolerable.

This metaphor plays into another blog post around “The Paradox.”

In summary, I believe and have been taught that, as humans, we often act in a manner that prevents us from achieving what we desire.

For example, I deeply want to be fit, but often find myself sitting and watching TV, or more psychologically meaningful example is if I deeply want to be loved, but fear not being loved or fear that I don’t deserve love, I keep myself isolated and protected from intimacy with others.   This could translate into the desire for a deep meaningful, authentic relationship with our spouse, but fear that vulnerability will be seen as weak or if I am authentic, she will reject me for my previous failings.

Imagine trying to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.   The more I want to sleep, the more frustrated I get and the less chance I have of going back to sleep (the paradox).

Applying the idea of accepting “what is” (stop resisting), when I wake, I grab my kindle and read in “low light”.  After 30 minutes, I struggle to keep my eyes open and return to the bed and soundly sleep the rest of the night; which is much better than the two or three hours of tossing I used to do.   By reading fiction, my mind stops spinning and starts to focus on the characters in thes books,  relieving myself of whatever ridiculous anxiety I am ruminating on.

To sum, when in paradox, I apply the exact opposite response needed and guarantee the exact opposite result that I desire.   And, it is my resistance to stepping away from these unuseful behaviors that prevents me from my desired outcome.

Where does this resistance come from? Obviously it manifests itself from our id, our shadows, or deep wounds that we use to protect ourselves.   Mine comes from a story I say to myself about “not being good enough.” Not good enough to be loved.  Not good enough to matter in the world.  Not worthy for success.

Imagine playing golf or tennis. When our body is tense or rigid, or our mind is stressed and frustrated, we can’t react or respond effectively. When I flew fighters in the Air Force, and got overwhelmed with input, my mind would darken and I could only react to what was directly in front of me.   This known issue was called “seeing through a soda straw or losing “Situational Awareness”.

Yet, when I am relaxed and engaged, I have the possibility of entering a “flow state” where time slows and my reactions are fluid and decisive.  An old commander used to say: “you need to get out of your own way.”

To sum, by letting go of my resistance, I am able to ease back to the true world and create the possibility of achieving what I really want. And for most of us, that includes creating personal meaning, being loved, or just living in peace and happiness.

As a side, I wouldn’t want to not discuss where resistance is appropriate.   I think this could best be summed as we should resist being taken off of our path toward personal integrity and mission. More on that to follow…

Blessings! – Pierre