I recently was invited to a chaji put on by one of my students. It was a memorable event as all chaji are, and this one kind of blew my socks off. While it didn’t adhere strictly to a Japanese chaji, the meal was exquisite with a Northwest twist of local fresh ingredients. The sweets were heavenly. Everything was meticulously planned. Seating arrangements were congenial, and the guests, many who had not been to a chaji before, were up for an adventure. Over the course of the evening, people began to talk with other people sitting with them and bonding among the guests began to occur during the meal. By the time tea was made, the sun had set, and the stars and candle light set the stage for one of the most captivating tea experiences.
It was an event when you go to a place where time doesn’t matter, there is only NOW. But the rest of the world continues on totally oblivious to your suspended animation. I was talking, eating, drinking and never noticed the passage of time. When you come out of wherever you have gone to be totally present, sometimes it is a shock to come back to the world and realize that 3-4 hours have passed. In this case it was more like 6 hours. It is a shock to think I haven’t checked Facebook the whole time I was there. I didn’t follow the political campaign. I didn’t even check in with work. And while I came in the afternoon, it is past midnight now.
In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes the mental state of flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” In addition, positive psychologists argue that achieving the flow state on a regular basis is a key component of happiness. That is, by learning how to enter the state of flow you can increase your productivity, be more creative, and be happier, all at the same time.
How to enter the flow state, the state of suspended animation? Why attend more chaji of course!