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Flow & Happiness

"To learn to control attention, any skill or discipline one can master onone's own will serve: meditation and prayer, exercise, aerobics, martialarts. The important thing is to enjoy the activity for its own sake, and toknow that what matters is not the result, but the control one is acquiringover one's attention" [1].

Lets first aquant you with your cerebellum. Located at the back bottom base of your brain, your cerebellum is about the size of a fist and is responsible for processing all of your body's movement and learning. Ready for some mind blowing information? According to researchers Flanagan, Vetter, Johansson, & Wolpert [3] we learn to predict and think about our movements before we execute them and move so that we control our movements better. Our motor activities are quick thought processes that set goals, analyze variables, predict outcomes, and execute movements. Pulling this off requires widespread connections to all sensory areas- many parts of your brain are used at once, creating a great, wholesome connection [4]. This connection can be referred to as the mind-body connection because your entire being is engaged. Additionally, while in movement your brain is essentially in awesome over drive making stellar things happen.

 

Happiness can be found in movement, because movement can help you out of counterproductive thought processes and emotional turmoil [4].  Throw in a fabulous hoop that happily asks of your body to completey focus on it, or else it will fly away, and you will quickly find yourself in a blissful state of concentration. You will be in flow, and your mind and body will be connected. Such concentration will pull you away from old thought processes and reactions, and in addition, the all-encompassing movement will strengthen your mind and body. Such mental strength offers greater thinking capacity and regulation; you will think more thoroughly and have better conrtol over your emotions. 

 

Movement is essential to development because it contributes to your cognitive, physical, and social-emotional well-being, as Doctor Borkan would agree based off of works from Plato & Piaget [5]. Movement, dance, and other flow arts also offer an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. It also allows for you to cultivate relationships and for yourself to get to know who you are on a much deeper, comfortable level.

 

Hopefully your brain has already started making new connections! Creative Movement ➡ Dance & Play ➡ Flow Arts ➡ Yoga, Hooping

It's within all of us. That feel-good, cozy warm, growing smile state of being. Some of us are naturally excellent at acheiving such a state, and how fortunate they are. For others, immense emotional, mental, and cognitive barriers may be between an individual and that wholesome state of reality...I think I know of a way for many to access such a wonderful state of being, though. And I believe this magical endeavor is widely growing in popularity. So come on, jump on the bandwagon of warmth and smiles!

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, athletes refer to the state as "being in the zone," religious mystics as being in "ecstasy," artists and musicians as "aesthetic rapture" [1].  For hoopers, you know, the lovely specimens that dance around seemingly without effort with at least one spectatcular circle, this state of pure and absolute being is referred to as the flow state. Hula hooping offers glorious, wholesome access to this sensational condition known as flow. So who can achieve flow state and is it only for particular awesome-like people? Everyone. Any one. The flow state is a blissful, focused state of being and any person of any age can enjoy this fruitful, wonderful feeling of mind-body connectivity.

 

Why is hula hooping such a magical activity for the mind, body, and soul? Because hula hooping is a physical activity of creative movement. Through movement, you become better able to connect your visceral emotional processing to conscious action [2]. Your projection of what is going on inside of yourself, whether it be a simple thought or complex emotion, is processed through the brain at a greater extent. You think before you react more often and on a deeper level. Such thorough processing results in less unregulated animal-like responses and more rational, controlled reactions. A great example of this is when a child is in a situation that makes him angry. The  child could react in so many ways, yes? He could hit, he could scream at the top of his lungs, he could walk away calmy, he could use his words as to express how he feels, and so on- there are infinite ways he could react, and there are infinite ways we all could react. How he chooses to react can show how much his brain is processing- how much he is thinking before he is doing. Being more rational and calm with his behavior shows his brain is more connected and thoroughly thinking. It is this integrated system of body and emotion that contributes to a strong sense of the self as an emotional, social, and cognitive [thinking] human being. A strong sense of true self and a handle on your emotions & thoughts creates a person that is competent and overall more happy.

Lets explore the brain more..

Thanks to hula hoopings immensely all-encompassing movement, your mind and body surely gain massive benefits from having fun, dancing in a circle. Hooping is more than circulating a hoop around your hips. Hooping, the term used by hoop dancers, is an expansive flow art form that incorporates every inch of your body, if you so desire. Arms, head, feet, chest, back part of your hands, and nose are clearly just a few body parts, and of which can be grandly used in the creative movement of hooping. Any movement that vastly utilizes your entire body can be considered creative movement, flow, and mega beneficial. Swimming, climbing, dancing, and yoga are surely some awesome activities for you to enjoy and reep benefits from.

 

If you "can't hoop" its simply because the hoops you have been giving a go are not the appropriate weight or size for you, thats really all. Though I am a vibrant, professional hooper nowadays at the age of 24, I surely could not hoop at the age of 21..on my waist..at all. Through enjoyment of trial and error I found my flow, and have been getting happier ever since. Maybe hooping isn't for you, sure, I can dig that. But there are oodles of activities bouncing about in this sensational world as to fulfill your mind, body, and soul- you just have to find what intrigues you, gets you going each day. For myself, I swear I am addicted to this circle. Addicted to happiness. Find your happy addiction, and cheerily flow on.

 

Miss Fun-sized Breezi

Flow to Happiness

[1] Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://wiki.idux.com/uploads/Main/FindingFlow.pdf
[2] Thom, L. (2010). From simple line to expressive movement: The use of creative movement to enhance socio-emotional development in the preschool curriculum. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 32(2), 100-112. doi: 10.1007/s10465-010-9090-2
[3] Flanagan, Vetter, Johansson, & Wolpert. (2003) Found in Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind; movement and learning. (2 ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum
[4] Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind; movement and learning. (2 ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104013/chapters/Movement-and-Learning.aspx
[5] Borkan, T. G. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. The american academy of pediatrics, 19(1), 182-191. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-2697

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