Thursday, October 1, 2009


Jonathan West's comments to the "More Jung" post down below made me realize it's been years since I first became aware of the "flow" concept and that some haziness had crept in. Here are some excerpts from the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

>>Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following nine factors as accompanying an experience of flow:

1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.

2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).

3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.

4. Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.

5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).

6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).

7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.

8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.

9. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.<<

And here's a great diagram from the entry:


  1. Yes, that's a good description of what I understand by it. In my experience, the "peak experience" aspect which I only rarely achieve, is characterised by a particularly strong sense of item 3 on that list, and also a sense of euphoria when it is all going really well.

    The "open" aspect of flow stems from item 5 on the list - you have to be aware of the feedback to be able to instantly adjust. This is what distinguishes flow from mere concentration.

  2. Jonathan - Thanks for the comment, and for making me realize I'd forgotten the details. The chart is not something I remember having seen before and looks to be very helpful in understanding music making in general, not just when in the flow state. This is what I love about blogging - I may never have gone looking for this and found the chart if you hadn't made me realize I'd gotten hazy on it all.