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Six Steps to Get into Flow

A sailboat sails toward a rocky island


Sky Nelson-Isaacs sees flow and synchronicity as “mutually dependent. In short, when we align with circumstance, circumstance aligns with us.” He describes a set of steps he calls the LORRAX process as a way to cultivate flow in our lives.

In the course of a day, we come up against countless moments of choice: the food we eat, the activities we engage in, the words we choose to use with people we encounter. We decide when to say “yes” and when to say “no,” when to choose action that will move us in a particular direction, and even when to not act, which has its own consequences.

My son recently completed his eighth grade project. He decided to shape a surfboard, and threw himself wholeheartedly into the project. It was something he chose for himself, and he was learning the steps from someone he respects. As I watched the process unfold, I got to witness him being in flow, and also to see the extraordinary concept of synchronicity at work.

The night of the presentation, my son’s teacher read a quote by Scottish mountaineer W. H. Murray: “Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.” This brought to life the idea that we get to choose how and when to commit ourselves, and that when we do, we unleash forces beyond us, and within us, that help to move us forward.

I first became familiar with the concept of flow through the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist who described flow as a state we enter when our skill is matched at just the right level with a challenge to a degree that we are brought into total focus. It is experienced as a kind of timelessness, where we are completely absorbed with the task at hand. Carl Jung spoke of synchronicity as when our inner and outer experiences become aligned in a way that can feel too close to be a coincidence.

Sky Nelson-Isaacs is a theoretical physicist, musician and author. His latest book, Living in Flow, explores the topic of how the choices we make can affect our experience of this sense of synchronicity in our lives. He dives deep into the world of quantum mechanics but offers some practical and useful tools for learning how to invite more flow into our lives.

Nelson-Isaacs sees flow and synchronicity as “mutually dependent. In short, when we align with circumstance, circumstance aligns with us.” He describes a set of steps he calls the LORRAX process as a way to cultivate flow in our lives.

  • Listen. The way he describes listening is very similar to mindfulness, where we are present with and aware of what is happening in the moment.
  • Open. We are often presented with opportunities that don’t match our expectation. By remaining open to many possibilities, we allow for unexpected outcomes.
  • Reflect. We can look at a situation and how it could be a unique unfolding for us.
  • Release. We are often attached to what we want to happen. According to Nelson-Isaacs, it is important to release this and surrender to what is actually happening.
  • Act. When we act, we are asserting our will. When we act after completing the first four steps, we are taking conscious action.
  • XRepeat. This step reminds us that the process is ongoing in our lives, and that sometimes it happens in small moments, and sometimes over a longer time frame. The more we practice the entire process, the more we are able to fine-tune it.

The choices we make in our lives are always leading us toward something. Nelson-Isaacs calls it building “symbolic momentum.” When we keep in mind the bigger picture of where we want to go, and make small choices based on the process described above, we enlist “providence,” which can help us feel that we have the wind of the world helping to fill our sails.

Keep reading: Going with the (Lava) Flow

Kalia Kelmenson

Kalia Kelmenson is the editorial director at Spirituality & Health and has been in the health and wellness field for over two decades. She founded Maui Mind and Body to support women’s health and is the creator of Core Strength Balance. Kalia loves to explore the fascinating intersection of fitness and mind-body health, and to share inspiration for your movement practice from the research emerging from this intriguing field.

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