I finished reading David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish in which he writes a series of brief, blog sized entries about his creative projects and his decades-long practice in Transcendental Meditation. It’s definitely a fascinating read, especially with insights into a creative process. However, there was something off about the way he wrote about meditation that put me off, that struck me as inflationary.

I’ll reserve judgment, considering the lack of detail Lynch provided in his book. But my immediate impression was that Transcendental Meditation, as Mr. Lynch described it, is unbalanced. The practice was described in a purely positive manner in which life becomes like a “fantastic game” and as if everything should be completely peaceful. I’m not saying that one can’t have positive and powerful benefits from an unbalanced practice. But it’s a bit like having an unbalanced diet with only healthy foods – certain important nutrients are missing. Maybe I am misunderstanding him, but nevertheless, that made me think about inflation and flow.

In last week’s sangha, we talked about that deep feeling of connectedness that you experience where everything falls perfectly into place and you hit this sweet spot called flow. The beginner’s mistake is to inflate along with this experience. This is especially common when someone has been severely deprived of connecting experiences for a long time. All of a sudden, they’ll believe they have all the answers and they’re imbued with a certain flavour of specialness.

I used to be deeply concerned with flow when I was young. In my teens, I called it synchronization. I like how the idea of timing played into the concept for me. In my diary from those years, I’m often writing about my sync rate – how the conscious and unconscious mind were in concordance or working at cross purposes. And I felt at the time, even if I didn’t explicitly acknowledge it to myself, that as long as I had my sync rate up and was working hard to keep my psyche well integrated, I was as good as invincible. And truth be told, things often played out like this. Whenever the sync rate was high, I didn’t have to worry about anything and whenever I shirked my duties, life would basically kick my ass. Looking back, I’m sure there was some selective memory going on there to support that hypothesis of mine.

I love this lyric by Bjork where she sings, “Carry my joy on the left, Carry my pain on the right.” Flow doesn’t mean all obstacles external to you move out of your path and everything seems to go your way. It just looks like that to the beginner. A true, honest and profound connection means that your little desires are the obstacles that get out of the way of you receiving life. And a part of that means being able to clear enough space, including the areas that would like things to go the way you want, to give equal share to all aspects of existence.

I think any artist or athlete can share this flow experience where you simply dissolve. I’m playing the piano and all of a sudden I realize that the instrument and I have become this unified unit and my fingers are flying across the keys and whatever sentience or semblance of self that I have is just observing what a rush it is to experience this. You yourself have disappeared, but in turn what you gain is this momentary, unreproducable, beautiful expression of life. It might be joyful, it might be painful, it might be both at the same time, but whatever it is, what was formerly invisible is suddenly visible, present, existing, alive.

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