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mental silence, flow, meditation, and mystical experience
October 19, 2014
9:12 am
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jpritikin
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I was excited to listen to Socrates' interview with Steve Kotler. I was already familiar with Czikszentmihalyi, but Steve has really collected dramatic and compelling examples to illustrate many aspects of flow. Prompted by the interview, I read Steve's new book Rise of Superman. Although Steve has not written a thoroughly scientific book, he does include many citations of primary research. I especially appreciated learning about Arne Dietrich and his proposed transient hypofrontality hypothesis. I feel like this hypothesis really helps to link together flow and mystical experience in a way grounded by neuroscience. I listened to Arne's TED talk and was surprised to hear Arne anticipate that some religious minded people would be offended by Arne's argument that mystical experience is explained by hypofrontality (not something like higher awareness). To me, hypofrontality is a logical explanation for mystical experience because mystical experience is often described as a more primordial awareness (consistent with Arne's hypothesis). To me, that mystical experience might be primordial does not minimize its importance in any way.

The reason I am posting in Shameless Self-Promotion instead of one of the other forums is because my colleagues and I are developing a new self-report measure for experience with mental silence. We believe mental silence is likely an important facet of meditation. However, we don't construe mental silence as an experience that only appears in the context of meditation. On the contrary, the term "mental silence" seems like a colloquial parallel to the technical term transient hypofrontality. Therefore, it seems reasonable to expect that mental silence will be reported by people engaged in flow as well as meditation.

There is one more half baked idea which I want to mention here. When Steve discussed meditation in his book, he seemed to have a limited idea of what meditation entails. To me, meditation is equivalent to flow with the focus on maternal (motherly) personality qualities. Steve seemed to suggest in his book that flow is not compatible with raising a family and family life (sorry, I can't find the page, at the moment). To me, Steve has taken a very masculine view of flow. I guess that is reflected in the title of the book. He titled it Rise of Superman, not Rise of Superwoman or Rise of Supermother, but I contend that these are viable flow personalities as well as the sports/masculine orientation. I can provide examples if this is of interest.

Anyway, I invite readers to participant in my survey (I need more data!). It just takes 5 minutes and it might provoke you to re-evaluate your understanding of the relationship between flow and meditation.

Please reply to this topic with any thoughts, comments, or questions. I will be happy to discuss this topic further.

Thank you for your interest.

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