Cooking with the Positive Flow

Jan 23, 2023

I never gave “flow” much thought. In my younger days of teaching snowboarding and averaging 75+ days a year on the slopes, “Riding the Positive Flow” was my tagline for those epic powder days…starting off with a little “safety meeting” in the trees, tunes in my ears and endless turns in waist deep Colorado fluff. I lived for the “positive flow”, and I still do. I never found anything close to that feeling until I started creating in the kitchen. Oftentimes, it would start in a similar fashion, a quick “safety meeting”, the right tunes, then I would just look around and see what ingredients were available and before I knew it,….I was flowing. So what is this FLOW…

Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the phrase “flow,” or the flow state, to describe the state of mind in which we are at our happiest. “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times … The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

You’ve heard the expression, “being in the zone”…well, that’s finding your FLOW! Understand that something as magic as flow doesn’t happen all the time. When asked how to tap into flow, Dr. Mark Basquill says he’s not sure there’s exactly a “flow state switch”. “Flow states seem to happen to us when passion, the right amount of challenge, and a lot of effort intersect,” he says. “When we find something we love, engage in deliberate practice, push ourselves from within, and never let ourselves get bored we make it more likely to experience flow. When we do all that, flow will find us.”

When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions fall away and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating. There is very little self-awareness or critical self-judgement; just intrinsic joy for the task.

Have you ever created something in the kitchen that was so amazing, and then you can’t remember what and how you created it? You added a pinch of this, a dash of that, you’re paying attention to the smell and feel of the ingredients, the motions of cutting, stirring or chopping. Your instincts take over, you aren’t “thinking”….You’re flowing! When your creativity, your intuition and your talent merge together in the same moment, when you are so immersed in the act of doing and creating, that everything else disappears…That’s your flow state! It’s only afterwards you understand that your competence and enthusiasm took you to an alternate reality.

There is something simple, immediate and emotional about cooking. It’s like music. It has the ability to alter people’s mood. There is a physical and spiritual element. Both can create moments of beauty and pleasure but only for a brief moment in time. It’s a difference that you can feel and taste, when someone puts their heart and soul into their craft, showing respect and appreciation for each ingredient, those who helped bring the ingredient to your kitchen, the growers, how the soil and climate affect the flavor, how it’s washed and prepared…even how it’s plated and presented before it’s eaten. All these aspects come together to bring a dish to life. All this and more is possible and available to us all….when we’re cooking with the positive FLOW.

It’s been 4 months now since we dismantled our kitchen in Ecuador to prepare for our move to Costa Rica, and I’m missing that flow. Creating our new kitchen and ceremonial dining space is like the mise en place, everything needs to be in its place and ready. I can’t wait for what’s next….I can’t wait to get back in that flow state and create the magic we came here to create! Something new and exciting is coming to Costa Rica!

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