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Thread: Zen Sports: Here it is, your moment of flow

  1. #1

    Zen Sports: Here it is, your moment of flow

    Others have discussed the in the moment aspect of martial arts, which I think can apply to just about any activity, and "flow" is another related concept. One I associate with so-called gravity sports, where the sensation of carving, creating and feeling g-force produces a satisfying in the moment feeling.

    In any case I thought this short article captures the non-goal goal of doing such activities. Different from zen, yet included in zen perhaps. And maybe related is why so many mountain bikers, surfers, skiers, snowboarders, climbers etc... and also zen people are active in environmental/social causes.

    "And I think this is the core value of Mihaly’s optimal experiences: Like a perfect bike ride, humanity’s health depends on its individuals existing in the here and now. Not clinging to the past, not hoping for some future outcome, not pointing it straight and hoping for the best, but flowing continuously with each moment."

    https://www.patagonia.com/stories/mo...y-103278.html?

    Gassho,
    Chris
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-11-2022 at 01:56 AM.

  2. #2
    Csikszentmihalyi's Flow is a really interesting book. It got some attention when it was first released - I read it back then - but it seems to lurk just outside of the usual mindfulness channels. I haven't re-read it in a long time, but I recall that it explains a lot that fits with Dogen's idea of time.

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    sat
    流文

    I know nothing.

  3. #3
    Enjoyed the read.

    Doshin
    St

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryumon View Post
    Csikszentmihalyi's Flow is a really interesting book. It got some attention when it was first released - I read it back then - but it seems to lurk just outside of the usual mindfulness channels. I haven't re-read it in a long time, but I recall that it explains a lot that fits with Dogen's idea of time.

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    sat
    Interesting thought regarding time. It's been quite a while since I've read Flow as well, and at the time I had not even heard of Dogen so perhaps it's time to revisit his work. Relatedly, at a conference many years ago the sports psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais, who works with Red Bull "extreme" athletes, and now the Seattle Seahawks gave a talk that touched on the flow concept and mindset states he works to assist athletes with, and after the talk when I asked him what informs his work outside psychology he told me Zen is also a big influence.
    Gassho,
    Chris

  5. #5
    "I cease to be aware of myself as something separate from what I am doing." While sitting zazen, even when my mind is pretty settled, I sometimes still feel like there's a guy here doing this, which can be a bit of an obstacle. When the guy is not there, it's just more true.

    Gassho
    STlah
    Shoki

  6. #6
    I would like to drop in my take on "Flow" and Zen practice, if I might.

    "Flow" experiences are vital to Zen practice, but far from all that is vital to Zen practice.

    Some folks even overvalue flow states, as if the whole point of Zen practice and "enlightenment" is to finally be in some kind of perpetual flow state, 24/7, all one's waking life. Personally, I do not believe so. I even think that it would be a rather narrow life because, while flow states are to be savored in many activities (e.g., mountain biking, playing the guitar, as a surgeon in the operating room, cleaning and cooking, dancing, etc. etc.), not all of life need or should be in a flow state. It is something like saying that ice cream is tasty and makes life wonderful, but I do not want to eat ice cream all the time! I think of "flow" as like a tool on life's toolbelt that I might want to pull out and learn to use at appropriate times, before putting it back on the belt.

    Now, to emphasize, flow states are also cherished and important in Zen: Flow states provide a vital lesson of "being in the flow," flowing of the mind and body with outside circumstances in which there is great harmony, and the tensions and frictions of inside and out soften or drop away. This is why such states are cherished in Zen, and many of our practices ... from Oryoki eating ritual, to floor sweeping, to chanting in intricate ceremonies ... are seemingly designed to induce some form of mesmerized or flow experiences. They are wonderful! Zazen too is a "non-moving" flow that can also induce flow experiences. I had one yesterday when learning a new guitar strumming riff as a beginner. They are wonderful, and I see nothing wrong at all in learning to induce such states (so long as, like any pleasurable state, one does not cling or get "hooked" on such states to the detriment of the rest of life).

    However, I like to say that the real lesson of Shikantaza is not really about attaining "flow" (although nice when it happens). We are more about radical equanimity, which is an equanimity that flows along with both times of flow and times of no flow. One might call it the great "Big F" Flow of the universe that sweeps in and Flows as both times when human beings feel "flow" and times when human beings feel obstructed or the very opposite of "flow" (little "f"). I compare it to some awareness that the sun is still shining in the boundless, open, unobstructed sky even when that sky is hidden by the clouds. We don't all want to live in San Diego where the sky is blue and cloudless all day, for that is a bit dull (sorry, Geika, who lives there ). In fact, most of us live in places where the sun is not always shining. Rather, we can come to appreciate that the clear days are clear, rainy days just rainy, snowy days are snowy, but even the clouds and snow ARE the sky!

    Both flow and flowless are the FLOW!



    Something like that.

    Sorry to run long ... but I got into the writing flow!

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-13-2022 at 01:50 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    I can attest that we have our fair share of cloudy days if anyone is still interested in moving here!


    ... although today was 70 degrees F so maybe I am to acclimated lol

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  8. #8
    Aw, I'm crushed. Somewhere i heard "it never rains in sunny California". Next you'll be saying Santa Claus doesn't exist; and then where would I go for solace

    合掌
    stlah
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  9. #9




    Actually, rather a good Zen and Dukkha lesson there ...

    Oh, and can't forget Mama Cass Roshi ...

    Last edited by Jundo; 01-13-2022 at 02:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Nice interlude; now I remember where I heard that
    Yay, we're on a roll;

    合掌
    stlah
    Last edited by Shokai; 01-13-2022 at 02:46 AM.
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  11. #11
    A Karaoke roll that is:


    合掌
    stlah
    Last edited by Shokai; 01-13-2022 at 03:10 AM.
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  12. #12
    That last post had an error:
    stlah
    Last edited by Shokai; 01-13-2022 at 03:10 AM.
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  13. #13
    Okay, enough with the Golden Oldies ... I am getting earworm songs in my head rather than "flow"

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Thank you for your thoughts Jundo.
    One of the primary reasons I became interested in this zen practice is through reading Shunryu first, which lead me to Warner, in which he quotes Dogen discussing not chasing satori, the concept of equanimity etc... and it struck me as the right thing.
    Now I'm thinking that may have to do in part with a large number of clients and friends around me in Oregon at the time who structured their entire lives on chasing the flow, stoke, what have you, whether on bike, running, rock climbing etc... There were businesses in town that did 6 figure customizing of Sprinter vans that they would spend every weekend and holiday in driving halfway across the country to get the best snow or rock.
    I always thought this was a bit off, and kind of missing the point, when we had great trails and mountains right there, but then again some found they didn't get the same flow on the same ol' boring local places.

    My strategy was to suck at all of those activities enough so that I was satisfied with my flow taster on the boring local trails. And then I never had to buy the Sprinter or need the new $10k mountain bike every year. However I am just as bad at shikantaza too, but take solace in Sawaki's words that it's good for nothing anyway.

    I suppose I shall continue to be fine with the flow of sucking
    Sorry to run long.
    Gassho
    Sat
    Chris

  15. #15
    From a martial arts perspective (I've trained in martial arts since I was 9, and I'm now 48):

    When I trained in traditional karate-do, and when I still do my katas, or practice the "basics", the "Zen" aspect (if you will) of it involved attention and constant mindfulness of your training form. No flow state was needed (or WANTED for that matter). However, when "kumite" (sparring) was involved, it was a different matter. My sensei wanted us to enter "mushin" (no-mind) and to "fight without fighting" and to "think without thinking" (his words). This was obviously a deep "flow" state that was required in order to achieve what my sensei wanted. But this "mushin" was only attained through practicing in a very controlled, VERY mindful way when not "doing" kumite. We were never encouraged to enter mushin/flow as a constant of life.

    If anything, what was expected out of traditional Karate-do practice was to attain a "Big F" flow state such as what Jundo so wisely and eruditely pointed out. One BIG F that embraced the constant mindfulness of the basics with the "flow" of kumite.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by CS View Post
    From a martial arts perspective (I've trained in martial arts since I was 9, and I'm now 48):

    When I trained in traditional karate-do, and when I still do my katas, or practice the "basics", the "Zen" aspect (if you will) of it involved attention and constant mindfulness of your training form. No flow state was needed (or WANTED for that matter). However, when "kumite" (sparring) was involved, it was a different matter. My sensei wanted us to enter "mushin" (no-mind) and to "fight without fighting" and to "think without thinking" (his words). This was obviously a deep "flow" state that was required in order to achieve what my sensei wanted. But this "mushin" was only attained through practicing in a very controlled, VERY mindful way when not "doing" kumite. We were never encouraged to enter mushin/flow as a constant of life.

    If anything, what was expected out of traditional Karate-do practice was to attain a "Big F" flow state such as what Jundo so wisely and eruditely pointed out. One BIG F that embraced the constant mindfulness of the basics with the "flow" of kumite.
    Hi CS,

    As I say, "eruditely" or not , there are certainly times for "mushin" or "in the Zone" flow states in many arts, sports and life in general ... such as you describe, or in Kanji calligraphy, or just dancing ...

    But there are also many (most?) times of life when it is just not necessary to be in a flow state, and we probably could not function well for most daily activities if always in a flow state. I say for those times to "flow" in life both with being AND not being in a "flow state." It sounds strange to some, but one can "flow" with the fact that sometimes life ain't flowing, and is sometimes anything but "flowing" in feeling (e.g., when having an "off day," flow with being "off.")

    I think people only get confused when they think that the point of Zen is to attain the ability to be in constant "flow state." Rather, it is to attain the Wisdom to be flowing with the fact of sometimes flowing and sometimes not (as I describe, the moon as a symbol of enlightenment is always shining and full, somewhere, seen or unseen, whether during the daytime or on the stormiest night. We don't always need to be seeing and constantly aware of the full moon for that to be so, and can learn to sense the moons bright fullness even in the dark.)

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Am very blessed by two things.
    1. Going nowhere and doing nothing with joy and ease.
    2. Playing hockey in my older age and occasionally flowing in the zone

    Sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  18. #18
    Jundo,

    I have noticed this - and perhaps I'm wrong, so please clarify if I am - but in what little time I spent in "traditional" zendos, I don't think I can ever remember talk of "mushin" or of flow states. It's only when I am training with martial artists (who happen to be into "Eastern stuff" - which, sadly to say in the USA is little more than pop psychology/self-help sometimes) that "being in the flow" is associated as being the "Zen" aspect of the art. This may be from reading something such as "Book of 5 Rings" or (the absolutely god-awful) "Zen in the Martial Arts", which seems to have fairly little to do with any kind of "real" zen. But perhaps there is more of flow-state discussions in zendos than I was aware of.

    Rich,
    I TRULY hope to be blessed with those two things as I "approach" older age. (Except for the hockey part, since I wouldn't even know what a pair of skates looks like)

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by CS View Post
    Jundo,

    I have noticed this - and perhaps I'm wrong, so please clarify if I am - but in what little time I spent in "traditional" zendos, I don't think I can ever remember talk of "mushin" or of flow states. It's only when I am training with martial artists (who happen to be into "Eastern stuff" - which, sadly to say in the USA is little more than pop psychology/self-help sometimes) that "being in the flow" is associated as being the "Zen" aspect of the art. This may be from reading something such as "Book of 5 Rings" or (the absolutely god-awful) "Zen in the Martial Arts", which seems to have fairly little to do with any kind of "real" zen. But perhaps there is more of flow-state discussions in zendos than I was aware of.
    Hi CS,

    I think that it is discussed, while not as "mushin" necessarily, as "being in the zone" and such. People tend to think that Zen means learning to be "in the zone" always and permanently. Instead, we might be said to learn that we are in the Buddha's Big Z Zone, boundless, both when feeling in the little z "zone" or feeling like a gutter ball sometimes.

    Gassho, Jundo

    CS PS - Might I trouble you to sign your posts with at the end with your name (CS, I know, is the name you actually use), and to add a human face avatar photo when you get a chance, to accompany your posts? It is one of the little things that keeps this place more human. Thank you. If you need help in figuring out how, let us know.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Thank you, Jundo, for that "mushin" clarification.

    And, sure, I will gladly sign my posts. And, also, I THOUGHT I added a human face to my avatar, but I may not know quite what I'm doing yet with my ability to update my profile.

    Gasho,
    C.S.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by CS View Post
    Thank you, Jundo, for that "mushin" clarification.

    And, sure, I will gladly sign my posts. And, also, I THOUGHT I added a human face to my avatar, but I may not know quite what I'm doing yet with my ability to update my profile.

    Gasho,
    C.S.
    Thank you, C.S.

    For some strange reason, the software designers made the avatar and profile pictures separate. Sorry for the confusion ... this should sort it out.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post266869

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Jundo,

    I hope I have fixed my "avatar" issue. I apologize for not being able to fix it earlier, but hopefully it's showing up where others will see it.

    Gassho,
    C.S.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by CS View Post
    Jundo,

    I hope I have fixed my "avatar" issue. I apologize for not being able to fix it earlier, but hopefully it's showing up where others will see it.

    Gassho,
    C.S.
    Very sporty picture, CS. Thanks.

    Zen folks believe in seeing beyond the body and names, yet we always appreciate a face to put a name to. (A Koan)

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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