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The phenomenon of 'flow' popularized by Csikszentmihalyi (1988, 1996) is defined as "a highly intrinsically motivated psychological state that is achieved when a person is engaged in activity where the challenges match his or she level of skill" and it is one example of altered states of consciousness.

Csikszentmihalyi (1996: 111-113) list nine elements of the experience of flow, which are described almost identically regardless of the particular creative activity or domain of creativity:

1) There are clear goals every step of the way.

2) There is immediate feedback to one's action.

3) There is a balance between challenge and skills.

4) Action and awareness are merged.

5) Distractions are excluded from consciousness (intensive concentration).

6) There is no worry of failure.

7) Self-consciousness disappears.

8) The sense of time becomes distorted (generally in flow we forget time).

9) The activity becomes autotelic (from Greek, "something that is an end in itself" as opposed to exotelic).

Flow. Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny., 2007.
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