By Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW
WORKING IN THE HAWAIIAN HEAT wearing a mask during a pandemic requires internal cool. We’re all facing a scary reality that requires a fresh perspective. Are you, like so many, finding it challenging to keep your internal cool these days and flow with life’s challenges? Fear can be a barrier to experiencing flow. What interrupts your flow? Do your fears take you out of the present and take you into catastrophic thinking?
Here’s a little Zen story to illustrate this common habit: A monk returned to her modest hut to find a snake coiled on her bed. She felt panic and intense aversion. Next, her mind raced to the future to plan her escape! But then the light shown through the window and she saw the snake was not a snake at all, but merely a rope, and so the illusion was unmasked. How often does this happen to you?
As the well known Zen teacher A.H. Almaas so wisely offered: “To contact the deeper truth of who we are, we must engage in some activity or practice that questions what we assume to be true.” You may ask yourself: Am I sure my fear is serving me well or is even true? Can I face this challenge and see the situation with more clarity and return to my ‘flow?’
Life has been pretty great at PQ since we re-opened, and I attribute this, in part, to what positive psychology calls ‘a flow state’, or ‘being in the zone’. This is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Essentially, when we are in a flow state, time transforms or flows, as a result of this full absorption into the present moment.
At PQ we frequently notice that our students ‘future trip’ or ‘past trip’ and so we encourage them to return to the present moment. Yes, we do plan for the future and address unfinished business from the past, but we do this with present moment awareness without the distractions of technology or a chaotic home situation.
Come join me in the present moment. Do you feel like playing today? Sand play therapy is one of my choices to help nurture this feeling of flow through ‘play’. One recent student was a perfect example of being ‘in the flow’ as she worked in the sand non-stop for 45 minutes, shocked at the passage of time and the ‘art in the tray’ she so proudly created. Sand play can help students come out of their heads into their hearts and bodies, and to drop deeper into present moment feelings in a safe and protected space.
PQ does a fabulous job of providing a protected space for young people to ask these important questions. The benefit to my students and their families of staying in my ‘flow’ is that they can experience their PQ therapist as safe, centered and present.
Students and their families are safe to challenge assumptions, face fears and learn how it feels to land wholly in the wonderful present moments of their lives. Here they can experience the well being that comes with ‘flow.’