Flow…

This week has brought Storm Imogen, which has battered our shores and made me want to batten down the hatches and stay in the warmth of my home. As a consequence, there surely could not be a more perfect time to sew yourself a little something. I can also guarantee you will warm up as you battle with the iron trying to press the garment into shape, thus killing two birds with one stone!

I began this post thinking I was going to talk to you about sewing a new dress. However, I have decided to save that until next week purely based on something I read on the tube home last night.

My weeks have been filled recently with anything but sewing! The excitement this week is a place in the Prudential Ride London – a 100 mile cycle ride in July, which will be a real challenge for me. I managed to run the marathon last year, but I am used to running frequently. Cycling, on the other hand, is something I do less often – I think I need to encourage some of my friends to cycle with me or those training rides will be a very lonely affair…and what happens if I suffer a puncture…!

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I have also spent some time doing a bit of voluntary work with a school in Surrey trying to encourage 14 year olds to expand their vision to look at different careers and enhance their prospects. I do not actually believe that charity work is truly altruistic, but if it helps someone else and makes me feel good…well, you can’t argue with that! Anyway…where was I…

The reason I decided to postpone my dress blog post is because I am reading the most excellent book – “The Organized Mind” by Daniel Levitin. I am a Physiology graduate (I like to call myself that, despite leaving University some time ago and not pursuing this career path…). I love science, the body, learning; I am a secret geek, but it’s all just so interesting! The book is more a neuroscience book that explains a lot about the brain and its function. I never really studied much about the brain at University, but I have had reason in recent years to become more interested in this area of Physiology.

The section I am reading currently is about creative time, which is obviously very apt for sewing – as I have previously mentioned, this is the creative hobby of my three (work, physical, creative). The first interesting fact in the book is that letting your mind wander often allows you to solve solutions to problems in a flash of insight (think of the times you have had wonderful insight while standing under the warmth of the shower!). The time it takes to solve problems can often be related to how comfortable you are in allowing yourself to enter the daydreaming mode under the pressure of time.

People anecdotally say that when they are in daydreaming mode, time seems to stop, or it feels like they have stepped outside of time. Well this is where creativity comes into play; creativity involves the interaction of the time-stopping daydreaming mode and also the time-monitoring central executive mode. I can definitely concur with these different modes while I whittle away the hours behind my sewing machine. Hours can pass and I won’t have even looked up at the clock, let alone remembered to drink the cup of tea I made myself!

This state, which only occurs when one is deeply focused on the task with intense concentration and commitment, is known as the ‘flow’ state (so named by psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi). It feels like a completely different state of being, a state of heightened awareness coupled with feelings of well-being and contentment. Interestingly, it is a neurochemically and neuroanatomically different state as well, deactivating areas of the prefrontal cortex responsible for self-criticism, and the amygdala, responsible for fear, allowing one to take ‘creative risks’! Apparently, without exception, people produce the best work they have ever done in this state, above and beyond what they think is the best they can do.

This all sounds rather like a load of nonsense, but I can definitely testify to some of these traits, so I hope I can spend more time sewing in this flow state of mind…

Sorry for the slight tangent from the usual post, but I found it quite a nice coincidence to read about it while thinking about what I should be writing. As usual, if you feel like following the blog, I would love that – please enter your email address in the top right of this page.

Have a lovely weekend – let your mind wander and happy sewing!!

LSx

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One thought on “Flow…

  1. Totally agree. I get it when skiing hard slopes, making things (esp sewing), doing running intervals, cooking a big meal and (weirdly) when using mapping software at work!

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