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The Anatomy of FLOW (HAPPINESS and FLOW series #2)


The Anatomy of FLOW

Control of consciousness determines our quality of life – This much we know.

So the question is,

How do we learn to control our consciousness?

*Before we get into this, note that: knowledge of how to control consciousness has been known for thousands of years – the issue is that every time the cultural context changes,  the information must be reformulated to fit the new cultural context. For this reason, control over consciousness cannot be institutionalized – “there is no way out of this predicament except for an individual to take things in hand personally.”

> the goal of this article is to help you contextualize Flow and its relationship to Happiness <

FLOW can be achieved in as many ways as there are individuals who care to try.

YOGA – achieves FLOW through mental and physical discipline

ZEN – achieves FLOW through cultivating constant spontaneity

BUT – the intended result is the same:

To free the inner life of an individual from the threat of chaos or entropy.

START – by understanding the limits of consciousness

This is what is meant by ‘limits’ of your consciousness – Obviously, you cannot do things like understand 3 conversations at once…


  • Well in the first place, you cannot really truly ‘multitask’
    • What happens is your attention simply flips from one subject, to another, and back again -which effects efficiency and reduces performance of the tasks at hand.

Some nitty-Gritty information on neural processing speeds:

  • 7 bits of info can be processed at any one time
  • 126/ second
  • 7,560/minute
  • ½ million/hour
  • 185 billion/lifetime (75 years @ 16hours of wakefulness)


You ARE able to collect the info from 3 different people talking to you simultaneously.


You would have to put out of consciousness ALL other thoughts and sensations.




Attention selects the relevant bits out of the millions of bits of info available to you at any one time

Attention retrieves the appropriate memories, evaluates the situation, and then chooses the best thing to do – based on the information at hand.

A healthy ability to Focus Attention is one in which consciousness remains under control until the task at hand is completed – despite external distractions.

This skill of attention – whether under direct control or not – determines the contents of one’s thoughts and therefore assists in the creation of who we are.

But what if I cannot ‘pay attention’?

  • What is “I” anyway? – “I” is the thing that decides what to do with your attention.
  • The “I” / The Self, directs attention.
  • and Attention determines the self and the contents of thought (as discussed earlier).
  • Paradoxically; The Self directs attention, while attention determines the self.


Information coming upon your nervous system will either:

  1. Create disorder and get you wound up


  1. Reinforce goals and increase enjoyment, thus freeing up attention which can be focused on making a task at hand more efficient.

FLOW occurs when threats are eliminated and disorder is straightened out.

The battle is not ‘against the self’ – but against the entropy that brings about a disordered mind / consciousness.

Automation: a blessing and a curse

The nervous system is extremely efficient at ‘chunking’ bits of information such that a task that once took 10 units of effort will only need 8 units of effort to complete the next time, maybe 5 the next time and so on and so on…. this process allows some high achievers to execute intensely complicated computations or movements with seeming ease and grace.


Habits can either “good” or “bad”

A good habit is to respond with compassion and to treat others with dignity.

A Bad habit is to respond to a task with dread, rolling your eyes as you curse under your breath.

Both these habits can form WITHOUT ATTENTION i.e. without conscious knowledge or intention (a subconscious process).

One must be ever vigilant in clearing their consciousness of these habitual ways of being, moving, seeing, thinking and interacting with others and their environment.

As we age, the less automation the better – The more of our daily life that is automated, the quicker one follows the biological and social patterns generated by society to their – very literal – end.

On a different note,

Time spent in leisure i.e. free from obligations – typically consists of us using the brain/body as little as possible. This lack of use is disturbing because it in fact hinders progression of skills and decreases the likelihood of FLOW.

If one’s skill is not consistently challenged, the likelihood of FLOW decreases. And if certain skill goes unused for a long enough period the body LITERALLY begins to shut it down, i.e. Use It Or Lose It = You ‘Age’.




Martin Colangelo : “The Better Movement Specialist”

– Blog Author

Owner / Instructor @

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