I just saw "Hamilton" two weekends ago. It has taken this long for the experience to course through my mind, my body, my soul, so that I could get to a point where I would be able to fully articulate my responses. For me, it was akin to hearing Mozart for the first time; glimpsing the same level of creative and inspired genius. The level of chill-inducing emotional rapture that awakens an electrical storm of kinetic energy throughout my body; the kind that uses my spine as a lightening rod; that lights up my motor neurons like a swarm of fireflies caught in the storm. Immediately, I was inside the unfettered brilliance of Lin Manuel Miranda, surfing the waves of his flow state—and not just his rapper’s flow, the life he filtered through his poetry with a back-beat, though, pun intended—his flow state.
Psychologists use this term to describe a state of total creative immersion in which all sense of space and time gets lost. Having been an athlete most of my life, we often called it being in the “zone.” Essentially, it is a state of utter alignment between our mind/body/spirit, in which we as humans can fully and simultaneously express both our singularity and our oneness; a state in which we straddle worlds of focused individuality and the unified field of consciousness. A state of creative ecstasy.
It is a state in which we have all spent at least a little bit of time, and a state so delicious, so intoxicating, that we all deserve to return as often as possible. It is why listening to riveting music, experiencing emotionally evocative film, reading psychologically provocative prose and poetry, and tasting other-worldly cuisine has the magnetic appeal that it does. Our ability to share, to glimpse, to vicariously experience the consummate alignment of our artists, our musicians, our writers, chefs, mathematicians…is simply transcendent. It also often offers a portal of inspiration through which we can dive into our own zone. For, pure, pellucid inspiration, inspires.
Whether we choose to peek through someone else’s portal, or poke and prod along our own path to find our flow, a few elements seem to reveal themselves consistently on the journey. Primarily, we must be doing something that we love. It usually pulls us towards it, and lights us up when we do it. Along with a fundamental desire, getting into a flow state usually incorporates our physicality—intrinsically tickling, if not completely setting fire, to all of our senses.
The third element that seems to always accompany a flow state is creativity. Even with something as seemingly simple as meditation—to reach a flow state requires us wanting to do it, and gleaning joy from it, breathing, and putting our body into the most effective physical position, and then allowing the unique filter of us—our specific personality, vision, and intent—be a part of and contribute to the eventual state of exaltation. Desire, physicality, creativity. Mind, body, spirit. Three elements that when aligned, contribute fundamentally and consistently to the flow state.
A kindred spirit just sent me a text that flashed in the corner of my laptop. I am usually so lost in writing that I notice nothing happening outside of my fingers on the keys; however I happened to look up at the exact moment the silent text came through. The image held a quote on a starry, ethereal background that said, “Inhale possibility, exhale creativity.” If that is not evidence of connection, straddling worlds, and inspired alignment, I don’t know what is.
The first step in finding your flow is to find and cultivate what lights you up. Whether you use examples of other people’s genius, such as the inimitable "Hamilton" and entire body of work by Lin Manuel Miranda, or start with a hobby that brings you so much joy that you lose time while doing it. Do it, whatever it may be. Allow your mind, your body, your spirit to be swept up in it, overtaken by it, enraptured wholly while doing it. For, one day, you may inspire someone looking at you and your example of pure, unadulterated brilliance.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]