(An Excerpt from the Deep Flow Conference Interview)
Jeffery: Yeah, absolutely. Steven Cutler, who I know you had on earlier and I have had this discussion for years and his old partner, Jamie Weale, same story. So, you know, they have traditionally been in the business, if you will, of researching and trying to generate temporary flow states. And most of the world, when they say flow, what they’re actually talking about is temporary flow. And that’s like, you know, athletes getting into a flow state where there’s no sense of self and they’re just sort of one with whatever the sport is that they’re doing or it actually happens to actors. I had a dear friend of mine do her Ph.D. dissertation on stage acting and how many stage actors are into it for the moment of flow when they all are in flow together and there’s this amazing group flow between them and so on. But these things are transient sorts of senses of flow. And so one of the things that we’ve learned over time with our research, which is, you know, publicly called things like fundamental while being academically called things like persistent ensemble experience, but encompasses the ways of living in the world that are more commonly referred to as a persistently awakened or enlightenment or non duality or unit of consciousness, God, consciousness and so on.
We’ve got nearly three hundred of these terms catalogued at this point for this. If you think about it, these people are representing oftentimes and how they’re talking about how they live, sort of a more persistent state of flow. And in fact, we have been able to use traditional measurements of flow in the academic world to really sort of get at this question of what is it that these people are experiencing when they say that they’re experiencing a more persistent or ongoing type of flow. So when I would talk to Jamie or Stephen or there was a conference at Yale that I went to, which was sort of a secret conference many years ago around synchronicity, and there’s a strong sort of crossover between synchronicity and flow.
[00:04:55] So quite a lot of the event was sort of a mix between these ideas of synchronicity and flow and the divinity school that brought in basically 30 of the top experts on this stuff from all around the world for a special kind of summit and sort of a private summit. It was an interesting event full of amazing people, as you can imagine.
[00:05:15] You know, it’s it’s it’s an interesting it’s an interesting difference.
[00:05:20] And so we call it life flow versus task flow, because the thing that is primarily the case with traditional forms of flow is that they involve some sort of goal or they involve some sort of task. And the thing about life flow, from our perspective, a fundamental wellbeing type perspective, is that it doesn’t really involve specific tasks. It doesn’t really involve specific goals. You’re not you’re not getting into flow in the moment. But a lot of the other descriptors are very close. And so you go to the Wikipedia page for Flow and you look up McKale chick, his work on it and his landmark work on Flow states on a temporary forms of flow. A lot of the things that he says about flow apply to life flow as well as to task flow. He was dealing only with a temporary form of flow and so we would cross out things like that. It has a task associated with it or that has a goal associated with it. It’s really just more of a moment to moment sense of being in the flow.
Jeff:So now, having made that distinction, your research has been in your life flow and you’ve researched. More than a thousand people who kind of.
Reached a fairly high level of living, this kind of flowing life that we would also call fundamental well-being. What have you discovered about that condition? In other words, what could you tell people that will let them know what it is that they’re talking about when you say PNU?
Jeffery: So it’s a good question. And when we think about this, it’s actually been thousands of people really at this point. And one of the surprises for us is that there are different types of this. Right. And so we catalog different types. We call them locations, and we say they sort of fall along a continuum of related types of experience. And so we think of their being different types of fundamental well-being. And so we use locations along a continuum. So location one location to location three and so on. When I say that, you can just think of it as different types really of fundamental well-being, and each one of those types would have a different answer associated with this notion of flow. And so, for instance, most people experience location. One, fewer people experience location, two fewer people experience location three and so on. Right. So by the time you get to something like location four, there’s actually very few people that experience that in an ongoing way. Their experience is what you might consider kind of a maximum version of life flow.
And so the idea is that they just basically feel like there is no them, they can’t pass, that there’s no decisions to make. There’s no choice to make. They’re not making any decisions. They’re not making any choices. The world is just showing up. And it seems to just be showing up in sort of this continuous flow.
So to them, that’s how they would see and represent life flow. If you come all the way down to the other side in location, one life flow would look very different than that.
People still have a range of emotions. And so you still have positive and negative emotions, whereas emotionality has fallen away at location far right.
You still have triggers, still have a lot of psychological triggers and stuff like that that can sort of drag you out of the moment here and there.
Now, you recover back into the moment much more rapidly, but nonetheless, you can still get pulled. The sense of peace that accompanies this type of experience is pushed more into the background and location one, whereas it’s always in the foreground and location for. And so if you think about just sort of the elements of these different locations, how flow or how the notion of a more persistent form of flow shows up really varies across them. And I think it’s very likely that people, especially people that haven’t really deepened and location, want people that are new to location one or, you know, haven’t been there for that long.
Maybe there are a couple of years. And I think it’s very possible that those people would say that they don’t have a persistent flow, for instance, in every moment, that because of the punctuations of conditioning, of conditioning, because they can still sort of get dragged into the occasional, you know, thought train or, you know, their spouse comes home and pushes the right buttons on the right day.
And, you know, they get a little trigger for a few moments or whatever else.
Those punctuated moments are enough probably to make them say that they don’t feel that they’re in a fully persistent sense of flow. And certainly if they were, it would look very different than it looks in location for now. If we were to go to a location, to location, to where people would probably talk about it and a slightly different way yet. And so in location, too, it brings in non duality or non dual perception, which probably is some of your listeners today are familiar with and some aren’t. So Nundah, a perception is really sort of a unification of the subjective and the objective. That’s often the way it’s described from an academic standpoint.
But what it means is really a perceptual change. And so if you’re in a non dull place and you’re just looking out or you’re listening to sounds, maybe, you know. But so either way, if you think about any of your senses, it doesn’t really matter. Let’s just say you’re looking out. It doesn’t really feel anymore. The average person. It feels like there’s something here, something in their head that is looking out at the world like they’re here. The world is out there. Right. And so I’m looking at a camera right now. Right. So I would be here and my sense would be that the camera is over there. It’s out there somewhere. If you’re not doing it actually feels different than that. It feels like it’s everything is just kind of one thing. When you open your eyes, it just seems sort of like there’s just everything just sort of showing up in a field, including you, and there really isn’t a distinction between you and the camera, Per. And so it’s sort of like everything is just one thing or something that happens with location two is that there’s often a sense that accompanies it of someone feeling like there’s a right choice to be made in each situation or, you know, there’s a right answer, if you will. It feels like there is a flow that can be discerned in any moment. That is a correct flow. And oftentimes location to people work really, really hard to try to sort of intuit and internally sense, OK, you know, in this moment, what is the correct choice so that I can be more in flow versus less and flow.
But nonetheless, there is the sense of a persistent flow, if you will. There is this life flow aspect, but there’s more agency associated with with that flow and with remaining in that flow. Then, for instance, in location for where it seems to just be happening.