I am not a Guru. Sure, there are times in my more megalomaniac moments (come on, we’ve all had them sometimes, right?) when I’ve stumbled upon a piece of wisdom I wanted to share with the world; but overall, I have no desire to be revered. Well, not a huge desire. 😂
However, I did sort of invent a new type of meditation. Let me explain…
I’ve long felt that meditation – while clearly very powerful and effective for many people – isn’t suitable for everyone. I struggled with it. I know that the point of it is to become comfortable with stillness. But… it just didn’t appeal. The underlying goal of meditation – to detach from the ravages of an active mind, and to have more control over one’s ability to achieve calmness – is brilliant. But I was more drawn to achieving this state while doing something, like yoga or walking.
Turns out I’m not alone. For many people, meditation as a stillness practice is unappealing. Instead, the appeal is to do an activity that detaches focus from your busy mind, and instead draws awareness to our physicality, our senses, and the textures of the world around us.
I listen to stories of yogis who experience enlightenment in those still moments. While I cannot say I’ve experienced nirvana, I do know that my most awe-inspiring, moving, powerful experiences have been when I have detached from my mind, and connected with my other non-cerebral powers and with nature. Wandering in the woods, watching a sunset, feeling a delicious breeze on my exposed skin, dancing without thought.
Not only were those moments transcendent. They also provided the metaphoric and literal distance from whatever life challenges or business problems I was facing. And in that open, empty space, suddenly (sometimes), the answer became clear.
And what I’ve been discovering as I’ve been building FLOWN – from all the science and research I’ve digested – is that this is a very common, neuroscience-backed phenomena. When you deliberately step away from your mind and connect with your senses, your other powers (emotional, physical, spiritual, even sexual) and the world around you (rediscovering aspects of a familiar space, exploring new spaces, or being in nature), fascinating things happen in your brain.
There is a lot of neuroscience on this topic, but I’ll keep it simple here: your brain is made up of neural pathways. When you learn or experience something new, you create new pathways. The more you experience or do the same thing, the more worn a pathway gets, making it habitual. Creativity and problem-solving ability happens when you are able to connect two previously unconnected neural nodes. The more new neural pathways you create, the more potential node connections that can happen.
So… if you want to come up with a new idea, or find a solution to a niggling problem, the best thing you can do is step away from the task for a bit. Go for a walk, practise playing the ukulele, experience something novel. Not only does it refresh you physically, emotionally and mentally, but your brain builds new neural pathways, creating the space for creativity to flood in. It really works! How many times have you been stuck remembering something, but it comes to you when you stop thinking about it? Or when you have a eureka! moment in the shower or while doing a totally unrelated task?
This was my inspiration. I wanted to create a way for this type of brain adventure to be developed into a regular practice. Like meditation. So I invented Quests.
Quests are active meditations that get you away from your desk for 10 minutes, and return you to your work refreshed, with new perspectives, experiences and neural connections. Ambitious? Yes. Achievable… well, try them out and let us know.
We have different types of audio recordings, led by our resident deep work mage, Micah. Whether you want to take your break indoors, out walking in a city, or immersed in a park or natural scene, Micah will take you on a randomised quest… you’ll be invited to observe things in new ways, consider new ideas, interact with objects using different senses, connect with experiences using your non-cerebral side, or perform a task that gets you slightly out of your comfort zone, but is really a form of play.
All these things directly contribute to our goal of getting you to detach from your mind, and create new neural pathways. In the same way that meditation probably felt weird when you first tried it, Quests may feel a little odd at times… but we all know that self-growth, creativity, and wisdom come from exploring the edges of our comfort zone.
So, it may not mean sitting in silence and ohmmm-ing, but it will very likely have a deeper impact on those of you for whom stillness and emptiness is not as appealing a practice. Quests are a rich, novel way to achieve a similar end goal… they’ll still your busy mind, but they’ll also create the environment best suited to allowing new ideas and creativity to flood in. I think that is a rather exciting prospect.
Give them a go at flown.com/quests (membership is currently free, paid model coming soon).