The Energy of Flow
As a follow up to "The Fear We Were Unprepared to Meet", I’m investigating the connection between libido/psychic energy and Flow. And the spiritual nature of Jung’s work is leading me to look into the spiritual arts, specifically the energetic arts, for some insight.
I hear the term Flow quite often in creative circles, but I hadn’t really understood its cultural roots. From what I can find, the term Flow was integrated into popular culture by Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi in his 2008 book of the same name.
But Csiksgentmihalyi had been studying the relationship between Flow and creativity for several decades prior to that. I see his name associated with the Positive Psychology movement, although I’m not sure if that’s a pop movement or an academically sanctioned branch of psychology.
In a review of Csiksgentmihalyi’s 2008 book, “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”, we learn that “creative individuals have a great deal of physical energy… But the energy of these people is internally generated.” And, “When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam… They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work.” As well as, “Creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy at one end, and a rooted sense of reality at the other. They break away from the present without losing touch with the past.”
To me, these sentences elicit images of both Jungian Psychology and Chinese Medicine.
However, in Csiksgentmihalyi’s writings about how to nurture creativity, I only see references to genetics, environment, milieu, and flexibility in gender roles - and nothing about nurturing the the pure libido/psychic energy of the body itself. I wonder why he hasn’t written about this connection (that I can find), because it seems like a relevant pairing.
It occurs to me that one way to nurture creativity and help young creatives learn healthy habits of self protection, along with developing good boundaries, might be to add an element of Chi Kung to the process. Specifically, I’m thinking of the potential value of helping young people connect with and learn to understand how to harness their own Chi Energy. Couldn’t it be said that Chi Energy is Psychic Energy, and that they both lead to this inspirational state we call Flow? Aren’t they two different ways of talking about the same thing?
This week I’ve started to learn a beginner’s Chi Kung breathing technique called the Microcosmic Orbit. It teaches us how to direct a flow of energy through the fire and water meridians of the body, using breath, and store that energy in the Dan Tien. There’s a circular nature to this exercise, with the chi energy of breath rising up the spine, through the head at the third eye, and then dropping like a waterfall down the front of the body to the sacral chakra (creativity).
It’s this circular nature that intrigues me, with its potential for serving creative vulnerabilities. In the Microcosmic Orbit exercise, our energy is preserved and cycled back to ourselves. It is not directed outward and given away. As one gets more advanced with these Chi Kung techniques, the circle of energy grows larger and larger. I think of it as parallel to what Jung describes as growing our container.
What if creatives were to develop this ability to hold their energy within their own psychic energy circle, and instead of giving away their energy (throwing it out there), what if instead they concentrated on growing their energetic circle until it was large enough to allow others to experience what the artist experiences, but still rooted within their own container?
Said more simply, if creatives were taught to recycle their energy inward, instead of thrusting it outward. Might this also serve as a way to protect them and create a boundary? The goal would be to grow one’s energetic container to be a big enough bubble that there’s enough room to invite others to experience the energetic field, without having to give that energy away. To share without feeling depleted.
Does anyone else have a sense of this, or am I just off on a very strange tangent?…
Energy> Sexuality> Creativity> Flow> Circle> Container> Boundaries> Safety
Here’s a short video on how to practice the Microcosmic Orbit of Fire and Water within the context of Tantric Yoga and Sexual King Fu.
“Fire and Water Chi Kung” 03:10