Perpetual Motion & Recoil

Stillness leads to reconnection. The connection with oneself allows for the “perfect moment”.

Kev The Metaject
5 min readFeb 22, 2023
Photo by Carlos on Unsplash

What I’m talking about is what many people call the “flow state”. Some others call it being in the “zone”. Whatever you may call it, I’m sure we all agree it is a good state to be in. How do we get to be in this state?

Cognitive science describes the flow state to be the perfect balance between skill and challenge. The first 20 minutes of the below video explain what this means.

Related: Ep2 — Awakening from the Meaning Crisis — Flow, Metaphor, and the Axial Revolution

What I want to examine is how it feels when we get in and out of this state. Like many, I suffer from depression. For me, it often means a lack of energy and a general disinterest in everything. At my lowest, every thought and feeling are respectively as laborious as pushing a giant boulder up a hill and diving for treasure in the deep sea. In my search for better mental health, I discovered that my lack of forward momentum and intensity in life had some sort of relationship with the flow state.

I believe at any given moment we all exist somewhere on the two-dimensional spectrum shown above where each person has the propensity to gravitate to certain regions. There are probably several underlying contributing factors to that but I also want to focus on the experience of shifting along this continuum.

I could never describe the emptiness that seemed to be the source of my depression. If I could put that feeling into words then there would be something to describe and it wouldn’t be called emptiness. When I was finally able to sit and face the emptiness I began to feel a kind of numbness. Numbness is just desensitization from feeling. There were feelings somewhere beyond my reach and the numbness is just the distance between me and them.

In the beginning, I could only understand that distance as something I had to overcome and break through like a barrier. This supposed barrier took many forms over the years until I finally realized this numbness is self-inflicted. I realized this because I learned all feelings are self-inflicted. This is different than saying feelings don’t have external origins or root causes. We perceive feelings as something that springs out of nowhere when someone(thing) happens when in fact there is a long chain of causal relationships between the moment someone(thing) happens to us and the moments we are conscious of the feelings about them or it.

When we spend enough time observing ourselves between those moments we can learn precisely what causes us to feel what we feel and why. It’s not as easy as it sounds because the reason why we build these barriers is that once upon a time we thought the only way to deal with “negative” feelings is to distance ourselves from them.

Imagine getting burned for the first time. We accidentally touch something hot and we recoil in pain. If that pain was traumatic enough we might recoil every time we get near something hot or even at the memory itself. I believe depression is when we experience pain that is so traumatic and/or long-term that we are forced into being in a permanent state of recoil. It’s like holding a fist together for so long we’ve forgotten how to open it. We’ve lost all feeling in that hand.

It’s been a long and frustrating process learning how to open back up to my feelings. Being closed off for most of my life it’s natural for me to close off again gradually over time. Like peeling an onion, I had to coax myself back to being open again and again. To do that I had to question every fear, insecurity, discomfort, misconception, etc. as they occur to me.

I learned later it wasn’t just about the “bad” feelings. I had to question all the “good” ones too. When we chase a feeling that we like simultaneously there’s another we’re running away from. When we recognize these dualities are temporary experiences, we can go back to seeing them as continuous experiences. To do this we have to accept all the feelings that come back to us as we “open our fists” and without judgment.

How does all this relate to being in the flow state?

To be in the flow state we have to be open and aware of all our sensations and feelings. When we recoil at our feelings we are pulling away from ourselves. This cuts us off from our energy and inspiration to reach our goals, deal with conflicts, or get out of bed. We stop living. To me, this is the root cause of my depression. My depression is my deeply ingrained habit of recoiling from my feelings. What’s the opposite of recoil? To relax and let go.

The practice of being still (meditation) allows us to observe ourselves without distractions but meditation is not the only way. Once we are sensitive enough to be aware of ourselves we need to let those feelings unfold in daily life. Essentially, we need to trigger our feelings. We need to trigger them so we can understand them with a new level of awareness gained from meditation. This puts what we learned into practice.

If we do not give in to our judgments about ourselves we can trace through our feelings towards reconnecting and fully experiencing ourselves, both past and present.

What follows is an abundance of physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. I believe the free flow of these energies is what gives us the sustenance and inspiration to live our true selves.



Kev The Metaject

A 9-5er, amateur photographer, writer, and sci-phi enthusiast seeking connections between the seemingly disconnected. (INTP, 9w1, he/him, cis, gay, geek)