One cure for both “Impostor Syndrome ” and raging ego is to think not of yourself, but of the path you walk. I am nothing as a writer or martial artist, but my teachers and role models have molded me well. I express them, not my ego identity.
When I am in the maximum flow state, there is no awareness of “I”. My attention isn’t on me. How can “I” be an impostor, if “I” is not there?
No self-pity. No self-acclimation. No “self” in the moments of deepest commitment to craft or action.
Like most kids, I used to love watching cartoons all day. I’d just fall into the television screen.
The first book I ever read was called “The Five Chinese Brothers”. I memorized the tale, read the pages, and began to associate the printed words with the sounds, with the feelings.
But the first REAL book, chapter book, was probably something called “Space Cat.” And after about fifteen minutes, I would fall into the book the same way I did into those cartoons.
Later, I began to write stories. At first it was just letters and words. But after about fifteen minutes of constant scribbling…it felt as if the page opened up, and I just fell in. It was a wonderful place to be, a safe space for a small, sensitive kid. This was harder than reading. I had to EARN it, whereas “Space Cat” demanded less work…and television cartoons took even less.
But it was so satisfying.
I used to run the track at Pepperdine University. Took me a few months to work my way up to five miles, but I noticed the same pattern every time. I would run, and for the first mile or so, felt creaking and rusty. Then the next mile I’d feel discomfort, and my body might send me pain messages. Even panic. “You’re gonna die!” But I would answer: “if I’d die from running, I’d probably drop dead later on today anyway. If I die, I’m going to die on my terms.” Kept running…and reached a place where suddenly I was in rhythm with my body. It felt as if I was standing still, and the rest of the world was moving around me. Beautiful. Like writing. Reading. Cartoons. Took even more work, but it was wonderful, and worth it.
Much later, I studied sexual magic. And noticed that once I stopped chasing an orgasm (for either myself or my partner), there was a “gateway” where breath and motion and focus all started coming together, entering the same realm. About fifteen minutes it took.
I’ve found this space physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, spiritually. At one point there are opposites, and pieces, and a collection of parts. Then there is a functioning machine. And then…something living and beautiful appears. And then…even that disappears, and there is just…flowing.
And every time I’ve been through that progression, the outcome has been the very finest and most valuable interaction or performance of my life. That road is the doorway to everything you’ve sought in life.
And the key is to find any thread of it in ALL THREE basic arenas: body, mind, and emotions. And begin to wind them together.
Can you identify moments of flow in all three arenas? In which do you find it easiest? Can you identify your breathing patterns? The qualities of mind? Can you transfer them from one arena to another?
Because if you can, it is like noticing that steam, ice, and flowing water are all the same thing. And once you see that, feel that, KNOW that, you have touched something very difficult to teach.
But easy to learn, if you will actually move, and feel, and think, and ask: “what is true about these things? How are they all the same?”
So…what has been your experience with flow?