| Thrills&Chills Management (Part 4 - Example: how to get into the 'Flow State' )|
|20 May 2016 @ 22:59, by Max Sandor|
Below follow sketchy notes on the Flow State achievement, compiled from notes on the Thrills&Chills Management and Peak State Training by its author Max Sandor. These were made for coaches of Power Coaching but they turned out to be very useful of coachees as well, and, beyond that, even for the general public.
Peakstate and Thrill training does not apply only for extreme sports or performances. Knowing its basics also intellectually, is not only for composers, writers, movie directors to supercharge their creations. Applying the Flow State in everyday's scenario them means QUALITY OF LIFE FOR EVERYBODY!
I refrained from taking out the memetic links to the classification of Ifá, here used as an empiric system of describing the Universe through polarities within a Matrix of 16x16 principles similar to the more broadly known Chinese I-Ching (8x8). For more details on this classification system, see Polar Dynamics I by Max Sandor and Ed Dawson. Simply skip these informations if they don't make sense to you.
On the history of the Flow State paradigm see Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who coined its name.
These notes have also been published on Max Sandor's Facebook page.
The thrills, once discovered and systematically 'liberated', can be 'invoked' which means they are then available on command. For this to happen they have to be freed from confusion with concepts, emotions and efforts. Once they are not anymore happening by mere chance alone and are not anymore depending on a complicated or time-consuming setup, they can be used for a variety of purposes for oneself and for groups. As an example, we will look at a typical performance pattern that, when fully activated, induces a peak-state that has been baptized 'the Flow State'.
These patterns are the same for sports competitions, for performances of all kinds - whether on stage or in an arena, in nature or in a board meeting, Some of these steps have been ritualized in the past, some even are fraught with superstition.
In the Thrills&Chills Management, we reduce the conventional 'risk & reward' model to apply only to a few classes of games, mostly of the kind of 'non-innocent' games, games that are played for other purposes than portrayed. In general, in order to play, a certain investment must be made for setting up the game. A reward at the completion of a game is being used to setup larger or more sophisticated games. Risk & Reward are in this sense OUTSIDE the game, or EMBEDDING them.
What is the motivation to play, if not a reward? It is the THRILL. a strange beast that sometimes comes but not always, not really an emotion but very close to it. And this THRILL then is the single most important element for total immersion into a game or a part thereof. It is this immersion that is called the Flow State. It produces performances that appear super-human, and, depending on your definition of what is human, they ARE super-human.
In the following a description of how I found the 'FLOW state' for the first time. I'll explain the steps as I understand them now, more than 50 years later. Afterwards, I share the story of how I had lost it again for many years. Both stories super-imposed yield a better view on the elements necessary for 'entering the Flow'.
Here's my story - I'll make it as short as possible.
When I turned 11, I got skis and boots as a present. They were combination skis and boots both for downhill and cross-country. That year, there was snow early and I got to practice during a few weekends. On New Years Day, there was a cross-country competition and I asked if I could compete on my own, outside a club or school team. The minimal age group was for 12-14 years old and although being under-aged and without a sponsor, I was admitted if I could pay the starter fee myself. That Christmas, I asked for money instead of Christmas presents, and miraculously I got the starter fee together (which is another story!).
On New Years Day, I slept for only 3 hours, got up at 5 in the morning to be on my way to the competition. I had only money for the tram to the city's border but not for the bus to the final destination. But I got my skis, alright, and with the help of a compass, I made a shortcut through the forest and after 5 km through the snow, I arrived right in time for the registration. Someone graciously let me have a hot tea from his sponsor, and soon I had my racing number on my chest and was in line for the start. I noticed I was by far the smallest guy of all and the only one who didn't have proper cross-country skis, My heavy boots raised quite a few astonished eyebrows. There I was. I thought: no chance, but I'll enjoy it anyway. I've come that long, now I shall compete, no matter what! Soon after, in line for the release of my start number 31, one runner every 20 seconds, I closed my eyes and tried to relax a bit. The sky was clear and the sun was high up and bright and hot. Around me was a chaotic disorder of people, skis and ski sticks, coaches shouting last advices, the runners warming up, waiting to get in the final line for the release for the race. I got in line, closed my eyes, waiting for the countdown, and nearly went blind when I opened them again at the moment of the release. And off I went, into the snow-covered mountains for a 1 km loop to be passed three times. In a short while, it became silent around me, just nature, my skis, myself, and my breath. I calmed down. I had nothing to lose. I had no chance but I'll race anyway. The landscape was so beautiful, for a moment I paused in awe to admire it. But then I went on and still looked at its beauty from the side of my eyes, seeing the trees pass by swiftly, as if THEY were gliding in the snow and not me. And then it happened, something had changed. My heavy ski boots seemed to lift me up instead of dragging me down. My sense of time was somehow different. The silence had a beautiful sound to it. I was floating in time and space and I never had enjoyed myself before so much as in this moment. I started to wonder why nobody of the stronger runners who certainly had started after me, were passing me by. I looked back, and couldn't see anybody. Ahead of me, I saw a group of three, and, to my own surprise, I closed the gap soon, and, at the next opportunity I had passed them. It gave me a strange feeling every time I overtook another runner. And so I made three more rounds, chasing and overtaking quite a few others that had started before me, and finally I floated through the finishing line. I had made it!
Yes, I had arrived! I was happy, I cried, I felt like I had been reborn, or something like that. I sat down, I felt alone in the crowd, I was silent inside. I felt like a baby in Mom's womb. Then, not that long thereafter, the results were announced: does anyone know this guy who just won? He isn't on anyone's team. Where does this guy come from? That's what I heard people saying, and then someone shouting: Number 31, please come to the jury's desk immediately! 31! That was me. I had won. Against all odds. I had won!
As you read these lines, you already know what had happened. Unbeknownst to me, I had entered what nowadays is called a Flow State. I had no idea. It simply happened.
In the hindsight of MANY years, Here are the steps of what I went through in detail.
Without a lot of other explanations, for those in the know, we add to the discrete steps of the Flow State emergence the flow numbers from Sandor's numerical system of the 'Flows of Eshu' - along with the names of the according polarities within the 16x16 Matrix of Ifá, the so-called Odù. You can skip that information unless you want to look deeper. In the latter case, you can USE this very information of course to modify the parameters easily and find other conditions to enter the flow state AT WILL. The SEQUENCE will always be the same because it NATURALLY follows the a sequence of natural numbers that mark the SCRIPTS of the polarities of the Matrix of the Universe via its Flows of Eshu.
Script A (encapsulated by prime states 19 & 23)
Before a Beginning.... there is Detachment, detachment, detachment (Flow #19, a rogue flow with no polarity attached to it)
--- A1. Chaos, loud noises, random movements, shaking limbs (Flow #20 with Ofun-oyeku)
--- A2. Aesthetics with movement, cheerleaders...(Flow #20 with Oshe-Irosun)
B. Assuming position. Time seems to stand still or go slower. Everything is heavier and slower than usual. (Flow #21 with Ogunda-Owonrin)
Note: this state is polarizing into its opposite after passing through the charging up forces of #22 and #23 and then become the appearance of speeding up time and levitation. See Cartoons for funny animations of this part.
C. Ready! an impulse, main entry point for a Thrill (Flow #22 with Oyeku-Odi)
D. Steady! waiting for the start shot (Flow #23 => a rogue flow.
Notes: this is the most frequent moment of noticing a Thrill which in reality already sparked in C. Also, noticed as a suspense in films or music, often artificially prolonged before an impact (for example in cartoons). The State #23 is also the natural 'attractor' for the male force (attracting the female). Should not be extended for too long, if not it can enter a Chill and fall back on the negative side of state #19 (despair, upset), the encapsulating entry state.
(end of script A / overlapping with B)
Script B (encapsulated by prime states 23 & 29)
--- E1. gunfire, explosion (Flow #24 with Ogbe-ogunda)
--- E2. a bright flash, intense fire (Flow #24 with Irosun-bara)
--- E3. an insight, AHA experience (Flow #24 with Obara-rosun)
--- E4. falling, going down, no ground under the feet (Flow #24 with Oyeku-Iwori)
--- E5. a process from Agni Yoga (flipping between E2 and E3), also used in GIRAPOLI
F. Finally, entering the Flow State by adding a sense of aesthetics (Flow #25 with Oshe-Meji), maintained by a constant flow of beauty BOTH inside and outside.
Note: Some drugs (amphetamines, cocaine) can create an artificial remembrance (substitute) of this state. The drawback is severe because State #26 will be kicking in heavily on the negative side after the effect is fading (see below).
G. Now we have two choices:
---G1. Exiting the Flow State by going on too long and entering H. (Flow #26 => Oyeku-beka). A great void is felt. There can be either the sense of being reborn or that of dying. This is typically happening after passing the finishing line or the curtain dropped down.
---G2. Renewal of the thrill. On stage, a new punch line; in the arena, having scored. A new stunt, a new thrill. (looping back to Flow #23 and passing through #24 and adding an aesthetics before re-entering or maintaining the flow state)
H. post coitum anima tristis est (Flow #26 => Oyeku-beka)
(the following 2 super peak-states are usually blocked by State #26)
I. Pure (Fighting) Magick, the energy behind Fa Jin (Flow #27 with Osa-gunda)
J. Pure Power ( Flow #28 with Oyeku-Oturopon)
(end of script B)
OK. That's so far just a sequence of observable events for the majority of instances of a Flow State occurring in life. There are quite a number of these descriptions out there even though the one above is unique in its details and the way it is hinting at a more universal structure or SCRIPT in life.
Now, using the Thrills&Chills observations, we can MARK exactly WHERE in this sequence our thrill(s) occur. We can 'clean' these from our minds by de-linking them from emotions and efforts. Then we can invoke the thrills and we can ENTER the sequence at that moment where it occurs in the sequence. This saves us from going through the entire chain of events and preparations and is practically 'guaranteed' to work.
There are OTHER ways to get into the Flow directly at any time. They however involve a model of the human psyche different from today's mainstream perspective. Let me mention just two: one, cleaning and activating the Gunas (a Vedic approach), and two, activating the polarity of the FLOW state as the peak-state called Oshe-Meji (roughly, a flow of beauty inside Vs a flow of beauty outside) using Max Sandor's GIRAPOLI method.
Both narratives presented here are obviously counter-examples for the conventional Risk & Reward concept for (successful) Games.
Are Flow States addictive? In a larger sense, perhaps. After working with Thrills & Chills, however, you may change your opinion and side with me in saying that it is really the Thrill that is addictive, and not the Flow State. For what it's worth :)
To contrast above, here now is the short history of how I lost my Flow again. Only with the superimposition of the two stories, how it worked and how it didn't, I later on gained a perspective of the details of the arrival and maintenance of what people now call the Flow State.
After my glorious and unexpected victory at the New Year's Cross-Country in 1964, I was winning every competition. EVERY. With an interruption because of an accident and a botched knee surgery that nearly left me crippled for life, years passed by and the streak continued. On the track, I simply reenacted my entrance into the Flow that I had experienced on the ski trail and I won easily. In the hindsight, I never lost on track nor trail ever, except once. Which was to become my last race.
It was 1968, the year of the Olympics of Mexico City, I was training officially in a club by now and even had the latest running shoes for the track, featuring replaceable spikes. I was invincible. One Friday night in early Spring, my trainer rang the door bell and told my mother that we had drive about 5 hours for me to compete the next morning and then in another the day after. With both races won and with times in a reasonable range, he would lobby to get me to fill in a sudden vacancy in the Olympic team. despite my young age. Why wait four years (for the next Olympics) when you win already any and all competitions now? he said and off we drove in the middle of the night. There was no doubt in my mind that I would win. Not that I COULD win, but that I WOULD win. Once in the flow, I had a never-failing strategy for the 400m distance, and, yes, I was always practically flying with the Flow up and through the finishing line.
We prepared me for the race as usual. Then one of the head honchos of the National Team came by to have look at me. "Look!" he said to me, intentionally ignoring my trainer "Now matter what you got told by anyone, today you don't need to win at all. All other runners in this next race are already confirmed for Mexico. And there is no second run, that's your only chance right now. But you need to stay under 48.5. That's what you will do: Go strong immediately from the beginning, don't worry about the finish. Full speed from the beginning. You don't need to win. Have I been clear? This is an order! You follow it, you'll have the ticket to Mexico in your pocket. Understood?" And he walked away without waiting for my response. My trainer, visibly uncomfortable with the situation, tapped me on the back. "Come on! He is not even a coach. But he has the say! So, ignore what we two talked about during the long drive to here. Actually, ignore everything you know! DO EXACTLY as he told you. If you don't follow his orders, he won't get you on the team even if you would beat all the others." To say I was unhappy would be an understatement. I was boiling inside. I was so upset, I even walked into the wrong lane to get settled in the starting hole. What an embarrassment! I skipped closing my eyes and blanking out my mind as I usually did. I didn't even shake my limbs. I just wanted to get it over with. Less than one minute separated me from being on the Olympic team and on my way to Mexico. I produced two fail starts. The other runners getting annoying. Then the shot, and I started to run as fast as I could. Thoughts raced through my mind, the ash on the track looked ugly to me, I didn't take notice at all of the other runners. I felt only only my emotions in uproar.
After 20 meters or so, the Flow should have set in, but it didn't. Between 40 and 50 meters I usually was in the full Flow state already. Not this time. The seconds crawled along like minutes. No Flow still at the 100 mark. it seemed an eternity to get to the 200. I kept up full speed. I felt clumsy and not as elegantly floating along as usual. Passing the 300. Coming up on the final stretch. I suddenly was aware that I had nobody in front of me. Nobody to chase in front of me, as I always liked it so much except for the final sprint. I was clearly in the lead. 80 meters to go. I heard my own breath. Something I never had noticed before. I heard the runners behind me coming closer and closer. 50 meters to go. My knees suddenly started to feel soft and a bit wobbly. I lost speed dramatically. At 40 meters before the finishing line, all other runners had passed me. My thoughts were still racing through my mind. Just come in within medal range. Nothing else counts! My legs started to feel like half a ton of weight. Then they quit. The last 10 meters I could hardly walk.
I passed the finishing line like a snail. My competitors already on the way to the shower as I falling down in the grass beside the track, thinking I was about to die. A strange fear and a scary darkness was engulfing me. I was certain I would not survive one more moment like this. In this moment of agony, I made the solemn oath to never again run in a competition if I should ever survive this horrifying moment. And I never did run thereafter. My athletic career was over after less than five years, short and glorious, and OVER.
This didn't have to happen, of course. But it did. Pretty much the way I described it today. It took me more than thirty years to start understanding what went wrong. "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't". And there is a method to the Flow state. A state, everyone can get in. Everyone!
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Max, it's great! I see you in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
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