Stories & Movement

DAILY PHOTO: Vidhana Soudha

Taken on February 23, 2018 in Bengaluru.

POEM: Temple Walk

 

rounding the temple,
walking its plinth,
reading each carving
like solving a labyrinth

battles and bulls
and decrepit hulls
of ships washed ashore
demons and ogres
who’d fought foreign wars

the Tartarus deep
and gods upon high
and mythical beasts
in water and sky

 

there’s no way this world
could be real or true
a vacuum of cruelty
a fanciful zoo

 

real enough to be carved in stone
constructs of mind, known but unknown

DAILY PHOTO: Clouds & Water, Panagsama Beach

Taken in December of 2017 at Panagsama Beach near Moalboal

 

BOOK REVIEW: Running Flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, et. al.

Running FlowRunning Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazon page

 

This book examines how Flow can be achieved by runners. Flow, in this usage, means a specific state of mind in which the activity at hand becomes effortless, self-criticism quiets, and one becomes pleasantly fixated on a task. It’s a term coined by the book’s lead author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, based on his research into how some people were able to slip into a mental state in which even mundane activities could become an almost blissful obsession. This was part of a broader inquiry into how people can achieve a higher quality of life at work or at home.

The book is divided into two parts. The first four chapters lay out the concept of Flow in detail, and provide the necessary background for readers who may not be familiar with the concept. These chapters describe the role Flow can play in running, examine the components of Flow (i.e. necessary conditions and outcomes), and explain what personality traits are most conducive to achieving Flow.

The second part consists of five chapters, and it delves into how a runner can achieve Flow. Chapter five explores in detail three of the nine components that were introduced in chapter two, and tailors the explanation for runners. These three are the antecedents of Flow: clear goals, a match of challenge level and skill level, and immediate feedback. Chapters six and seven suggest the ways in which Flow can be facilitated in non-competitive and competitive runs, respectively. Chapter eight discusses the limits of flow. Because Flow is associated with feelings of effortless performance, some think of it as a sort of panacea for all that plagues their running. Furthermore, it’s not a state that easily happens and consistently returns; it’s often fickle and elusive. This chapter not only disabuses one of such notions, but also explains how failing to achieve Flow need not be the end of the world (or of one’s race.) The final chapter takes Flow beyond the concept of running and suggests what it’s pursuit can do for an individual more broadly.

The chapters use mini-case studies in which the authors describe the experience of professional runners in races and the effects of Flow on their performance and their experiences of races. There are numerous graphics. Many of these are color photos of the athletes who the authors spoke to, but there are also diagrams used to clarify key concepts. There is a glossary and references section as well.

I enjoyed this book. I’ve always thought of running as a task for which Flow would be hard to achieve because the matching of skill level to the amount of challenge is so crucial to achieving Flow and the movement pattern of running is so repetitive and monotonous. (The reason this matching is important is that if one’s skill level is far beyond the challenge, then one is bored, and if it’s the other way around, one is frustrated and overwhelmed – and neither boredom nor frustration facilitates Flow.) The book is a quick read that offers runners everything they need to make their mental experience of running more enjoyable and productive.

View all my reviews

DAILY PHOTO: Blue Danube [w/ Musical Interlude]

Taken in December of 2014 in Budapest

 

And for your listening pleasure, while you gaze at the picture:

POEM: Feels Real

You think you know what’s real?
That’s so adorable.
You’re adrift in a space
full of false, hard edges.

Some say it’s turtles all
the way to the bottom.
Whatever a “bottom”
is or was or may be.

You are in the third act
of a two-act play, and
everyone has gone home.
If you fall to the stage
no one will hear or feel
the waves emanating
from that false, hardwood floor.
But I understand it
feels real to you.

DAILY PHOTO: Scenes from MG Road

Taken on February 20, 2018 in Bengaluru.

















DAILY PHOTO: Curious Giraffe

Taken in May of 2017 in Amboseli National Park, Kenya

POEM: Gravel Road

the washboard road
sends vehicles
into
convulsive spasms–
violent shudders
that pop the wind from passengers
&
clack teeth
&
postpone words
because all utterances become
machine-gun moans

a dust plume of raw umber
slants away from rolling tires
seen across field and savannah
smoke signal of impending visitation

DAILY PHOTO: Trees in the Churchyard

Taken in December of 2014 in Szentendre, Hungary

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