When we wrote a comment on our blackboard last month about languishing which referenced some work from the Happiness Lab almost everyone who entered our practice commented on it. We felt that we had struck a universal nerve

Languishing has been described as a relative of poor mental health in the 6 degrees of separation sort of context. Not actually ill but not thriving either. Not unhappy per se but not actually enjoying anything the way we used to. A kind of pseudo-productive monotony. The cure for languishing has been termed Flow. Those of you familiar with Yoga will be familiar with this term. Flow space is characterised by Mastery, Mindfulness and Mattering. 

(See Ted Talk by Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist: )

At our practice, we promote Conscious Mindfulness as an antidote to languishing. Not just doing mindfulness but being mindful as a daily orientation. This is a practice in which you will start to recognise when you attain flow space. Try actually smelling your coffee before you actually taste it. Swallow a few mouthfuls with your eyes closed (careful not to spill down the front of your work shirt). Hold your mug in your hand before drinking from it and experience the warmth, shape and texture.  Then take a sip. Take a 15 min walk during your workday noticing what you hear, see and smell.  As you re-enter your workplace notice again what you hear see and smell. Try chewing the first few mouthfuls of your lunch with your eyes closed taste the various flavours and feel the textures before swallowing. Notice the feeling of satiety. After eating notice how your body feels; has your headache gone away or lessened, are you less fatigued, has your motivation increased? How are you feeling now? Keep a plant on your desk (light permitting) look at it each day just for a few seconds notice its new leaves, and pay attention to it when you water it.  

Notice that by attending to what you’re doing you can influence the way you’re feeling…… 

Languishing is increased by being on autopilot and not experiencing our actions on a sensory level which feeds a disconnect between mind and body. It is accompanied by increased levels of fatigue and joylessness. It is a serious threat to well-being. Flow space can be any space; cooking, reading, gardening, playing board games, cycling, running, practising yoga… Remember flow space is not defined by productivity but rather by joy and connectedness both to ourselves and to others. Flow space is found deep in an activity where we have achieved some level of mastery.     

Below is a useful video by Anna Akana discussing this feeling: 

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