Alright folks, listen up, this is a good one!
Namely––if we want more group Flow, Communitas, or whatever we want to call it...
How do we get there, in spite of ourselves?
Because, after all, not only does Group Flow feel awesome, it also helps us do the impossible together.
Whether that’s a fourth quarter comeback, solving world peace, or launching a new business... even just surviving your next dinner party with the neighbors––group flow can help.
The trouble is, setting aside our egos and merging into hive mind is hard. And at a time we need to be able to get out of our own way, we’re tripping over ourselves more than ever.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this interview Jamie just gave on exactly this subject.
So how do we get truly deeply present with each other, and then stay there when the going gets tough?
It’s fairly easy to glimpse an experience of communitas these days.
It could be an amazing family vacation, an inspiring church service, a festival like Burning Man, or an adventure race.
But it’s way harder to actually stay in that sweet spot as life gins up and starts coming at us again full throttle.
We get overloaded and overwhelmed. Pretty soon everyone’s primed to blast each other at the slightest provocation.
Even allies seem hairtrigger quick to react. (Here's a classic electroshock therapy episode of the Simpsons for a recap).
And that’s where we start accumulating the little hits, creeping doubts, and backlog of hurts and suspicions.
Before we know it, we’re no longer connected in the present––we’re talking past each other.
We get separated by all the unfinished business we haven’t had the time or skill to clean up, and a vigilance for a future where we don’t want to get burned again.
So we drift apart. Trust, and coherence plummet. Group Flow goes out the window.
And it seems like what we need is some form of batch processing.
Where we can agree to shake the Etch-a-Sketch clean. Let bygones be bygones, and double down on rooting for our shared success.
Ecstasis, supporting Catharsis bringing us back to Communitas.
AKA... the peak experience, supporting our shared healing, bringing us back to group flow.
Well it turns out that Oxford anthropologists have been tracking this exact dynamic. They’ve found intriguing evidence that this is exactly how we’ve always done it. Joy bonds us together when times get tough.
“Among the San Bushmen of southern Africa, trance dances are particularly likely to take place when relationships within the extended community have started to unravel as people bicker among themselves.
A trance dance restores the equilibrium, almost as though it wipes the slate clean of the toxic memories of the injustices and slights that poisoned relationships.
Freeing your mind can help you love your neighbour.”
Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, anandamide.
They're all pleasure producing, pro-social neurochemicals that increase the peace. They help us forgive and forget.
So as Alice Walker wrote, “hard times call for furious dancing” she was more right than she knew.
In fact, the harder the times, the more we need to purge and reset with ecstatic forgiveness rituals.
Or at the least, a banging dance party.
To riff on Nelson Mandela’s solution for healing South Africa, perhaps what we need more of is a “Groove and Reconciliation Committee”.
Ritualized time (“kairos") separated from the daily hustle (“chronos”), where we set aside our grievances and come together in the spirit of forgiveness, celebration and play.
But the key here is to realize that while Ram Dass may have been right in saying that “we’re all just walking each other home” he missed the other part...
That we’re constantly stepping on each other’s toes as we try to get there!
And we need ways to, if not “forgive and forget” at least to “forgive and let live.”
The idea that if we can only figure out exactly the right communication process, or attain a high enough spiritual awareness, or biohack our way to super-stokedness... only then we’d miraculously lock into group Flow forever is a pipe dream.
Human nature is messy, and life is impossibly confounding and contradictory.
We get to where we’re going by smashing and crashing into each other, then picking ourselves up and recommitting to doing our best along the way.
And that hurts.
Sometimes we mean to hurt, sometimes it’s a total accident.
Either way, having a process to digest that grief, and get back to rooting for each other is essential. Too essential to leave to chance.
The often repeated Hawaiian prayer, "I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you!” kind of sums it up.
So as you head into the rest of this week, consider what open loops you’ve got in your mind and heart. The things left undone that you ought to have done. And then grease the skids. Start by starting.
Even if names that come to mind are people you feel have done you wrong––apologize to them first for whatever small part you might have played in their reaction.
But before you do any of that...
🎵Crank the tunes, go for a run, swim or workout.
☀️Soak up some sunshine.
📚Read something inspirational.
💡Don’t curse the darkness. Turn on your lovelight.
(and let it shine, shine, shine, shine, shine!).
Jamie and the Flow Genome Project team
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