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Personal Practices: Container Contraction

Have you ever found yourself so absorbed in an activity that the rest of the world goes away? That is an example of a personal experience of container contraction, characteristic of what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi dubbed "flow" experiences. Sports, games, art and hobbies are some of the areas in which you might have had what researchers term optimal experiences, so called because they are so enjoyable as to be self-rewarding. With luck, you may even have this sense of flow at work, when given tasks that are challenging, and yet possible to be achieved fully utilizing your skills.

Csikszentmihalyi believes what happens in these optimal moments is a person's attention becomes so completely absorbed that there is none left over to process any other information. In other words, their field of awareness or container contracts.

If your life has become so busy that you don't have time to engage in activities in which you find a state of flow, make time for them as a personal practice that gives a sense of joy and meaning to life.

REFERENCE: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, HarperPerrenial,1991.

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