Some reminders before we dive in: There are three different kinds of comments you need to make in these online discussions in order to earn full credit. Refer to the rubric you received in class (also available here). The most effective comments in this kind of forum are concise, clear, and supported. Instead of responding to every conversation question in one comment, try to make shorter, separate comments that allow other people to digest and respond to your ideas.

Online discussion #3 is open for comments from Tuesday, September 12 until the end of Monday, September 18. Make sure that you’ve emailed your WordPress user name to music.drjones@gmail.com so that I can give you credit for participating.


 

In many cultures around the world, music is used in religious settings and rituals. Think about all the reasons you listed that you listen to music the first day of class: to escape, to distract yourself, to hang out with friends, to be entertained, to change your mood—all of these are reasons why people use music to enhance their religious rituals and prayers, too. We’ll look at a few examples of religious music from Western music history—adding more to our historical road map from Online discussion #2. In each case, music helps make religious events more magnificent or impressive, more powerful or moving, or more communal.

As you’re thinking about these examples of religious music, keep in mind the four big ways that music enhances religious experiences:

  • Practitioners’ faith. The listener’s mindset is part of what makes a musical experience meaningful, so if a listener goes into the experience with the expectation that they’ll feel more in touch with a higher spiritual power that they believe in fully, that will shape their musical experience.
  • A sense of community. Music brings people together, especially when they’re making it. Making music with other people is quite an intimate act: you breathe together, focus on the unique sound of another person’s voice or instrument, match your voice to theirs, and feel the vibrations of the sounds you make together in your chest. Music can express a sense of togetherness, make congregants feel powerful and unified, conveys joy about their faith, or show outsiders why their faith is good.
  • The sound of the music. In class last week, we talked about how changes in texture, dynamics, and melodic contour can convey all kinds of ideas, including an attitude of faith, but also joy, power, and excitement. These are all feelings that can enhance a religious experience, as can any other mood that music can convey: fear, darkness, awe, solitude, togetherness… Religious music might also exhibit qualities that allow listeners and music makers to feel connection with a higher power, special knowledge, and a part of themselves that’s otherwise inaccessible via repetitious, hypnotic, or meditative sounds.
  • Flow. What’s that? Keep reading.

Flow

Let’s start by defining what religious experiences can feel like.

Think about a time when you were doing something—anything—and you looked at your clock/watch/phone and realized several hours had passed in what felt like the blink of an eye. Likely whatever you were doing was something that was mentally engrossing, it held your attention, it was enjoyable, it wasn’t so easy that you became bored (and at the same time it was challenging but not frustrating), and it was rewarding in and of itself rather than something you do to make someone else happy (the word for this kind of intrinsically rewarding experience is autotelic).

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is a psychologist who has studied the ways in which people experience what he calls “flow” while doing activities that meet these criteria: talking to an interesting conversation partner, reading a book, looking at art, playing chess, athletic competition, or immersion in religious rituals. Even though these are wildly different activities, they all produce flow, a unique kind of positive sensation for the person engaged in them: they stop thinking about themselves in a self-conscious way and no longer have a running inner monologue, they focus on the activity at hand and ignore other distractions, they lose track of time, they feel as if their decisions or actions are inspired or guided rather than having to directly make them happen (like they’re at one with what they’re doing), they’re often aware that their brain feels different while they’re doing this activity (that the feeling the activity produces is special), and overall they feel really, really good because of the activity. Flow is a heightened state of consciousness (meaning it’s not a mental state that you feel at most points in the day and you have to do something to gain access to it). (Csikszentmihalyi has also done an interesting TEDtalk about how you can use the concept of flow to lead a happier life).

Side note: “Heightened state of consciousness” is not the same as “mood” or “emotion.” Cognitively speaking, “normal” mental states consist of our brain functions throughout the day: having a perception, experiencing a sensation, having a recollection, or thinking about something. There are also mental states in which people are not wholly conscious and experience no emotions, such as pathological states like mania, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and catatonia; and emotion-less dissociative states like daydreaming, hypnotic trance, and deep meditation. A heightened mental state is a more intense version of a “normal” mental state in which sensations and perceptions are experienced more intensely and vividly.

Flow isn’t an idea that Csikszentmihalyi invented, and he’s not the only one who’s studied it. Frank Putnam and Karen Nesbitt Shanor (1999) call it a “peak experience” or “Nirvana,” and when they define it the emphasize the peaceful, euphoric feeling that people describe.

“Peak experience states are rewarding because they enable us to just be.  It is not as if they are a means to another end.  They are the end.  The individual does not feel the need to seek something beyond the experience.  There is only the wish to be able to re-experience such a state when it has faded.”

—Frank Putnam and Karen Nesbitt Shanor, “States of Consciousness from Infancy to Nirvana,” in The Emerging Mind, ed. Shanor (Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1999), p. 71

Flow is an enticing feeling, and it can happen outside of religious contexts. It’s something that I experience on stage performing, at home practicing, while writing, while in front of you guys in the classroom (sometimes!), while cooking, and while having a stimulating discussion with someone whom I find interesting. As a result, these are some of my favorite things to do—they’re enjoyable while they’re happening, they leave me feeling great, and they’re more vivid and inspiring than other things I have to do in my day-to-day life. In turn, I try to do these things as much as possible, since I know that they can put me in a mental state that other activities can’t.

In terms of religion, music is an important part of how people get in touch with special mental states and create a flow experience—it’s one component that contributes to how religion can be a positive experience that gives their life meaning.

Western music history, part 1: Gregorian chant

In Online discussion #2, we read about how many ideas that shape European culture come from Ancient Greece. Another big source for European culture and habits is the Bible, the religious text of Christian faiths. It contains several passages that describe why people of this faith should make music when they praise God:

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

King James Bible, Psalm 150:1-6

 

We’ve already heard some of the earliest music of the Catholic Church, a genre of music called “Gregorian chant.” Recall in Online discussion #2 that monks and nuns spent their days copying manuscripts, completing chores, and praying. Their prayers were sung—not as a performance for an audience, but as a way to unite with each other. Here’s an example:

The text of this chant, Hodie Christus natus est (Today Christ is born), is available here.

We already possess the vocabulary to describe some of Gregorian chant’s characteristic features: monophonic texture, non-metrical rhythms, and cadences at the end of every phrase.

monastery
Sucevita Monastery in the Romanian countryside, built in the 16th century

 

Monks and nuns sang in this style for a few reasons: (1) it’s relatively simple, so even someone who’s not a confident singer can produce these sounds reasonably well; (2) the melodies and texture are simple, so the people singing can focus on what the words mean; and (3) God said to do it this way.

 

pope gregory dove
Pope Gregory I, receiving melodies from the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove)

That last reason is perhaps a little flippant—but that’s the origin story for this kind of music. Gregorian chant is named for Pope Gregory I, who was visited by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, this dove sang all the chant melodies to him, and Pope Gregory wrote them down so Christians could sing them. Although this isn’t actually how these melodies came into being, the story lends a sense of power, awe, and magic to the act of singing them—in other words, the weight of faith.

In reality, different monasteries and nunneries in different towns across Europe sang slightly different melodies from each other. Monks and nuns used Gregorian chant as a way to remember all the prayers they sang at various points throughout the day and the year—music served as a mnemonic device. Depending on the liturgical calendar (meaning the time of the lunar year, which includes different seasons like Christmas, Advent, Lent, Ascension, etc.), different prayers should be recited. On top of that, different prayers should be recited at different times of the day—these are called canonical hours. A little math tells us that any one monk would need to remember several hundred prayers, and music helped make that memorization process easier.

CanonicalHours
Canonical hours, the designated times for prayer throughout the day
Liturgical calendar
The liturgical calendar, or the different seasons of the Christian year

Western music history, part 2: Organum

Music evolves over time, and Gregorian chant gave way to other, more complex styles of religious music. One of these is called organum, and the differences in musical style are an indication of changes in how music was made in the 12th century.

perotin
Pérotin

Here is an example of organum by Pérotin (c.1160-1230), a work called Viderunt omnes (All the ends of the earth have seen):

In comparison with Gregorian chant, this music obscures the words that are being sung—this tells us that something else is more important for people who created this music than just the words. (Side question: how do you think the sound of this piece does bring out or enhance some aspect of the text?)

Organum also tells us about some important changes that have occurred in terms of how music was made in the Catholic Church: (1) the music is more complicated and more difficult to sing, and therefore it required professional musicians (not just nuns or monks singing for themselves) who were paid to rehearse and sing on behalf of the congregation; and (2) this specific kind of music was sung in a particular building: a large, high-ceilinged, reverberant Gothic stone cathedral, and the sound of the voices was designed to fill that space.

Pérotin composed music for Notre Dame, a cathedral in Paris built 1163-1365:

Notre Dame inside4
The inside of Notre Dame is made of stone and features 115-foot high ceilings, perfect for echoes and feeling the power of God all around.

Western music history, part 3: The Reformation and the Counter-Reformation

Music is culture, and the way it’s made reflects what people value or care about. This includes people’s disagreements or arguments.

martin luther
Martin Luther (1483-1546)

When Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church in the 16th century to form their own denomination, one of the first things they did was create a new style of music for their church services (it also helped that their leader, Martin Luther, was an avid amateur musician himself: it’s something that mattered to him, so he made sure it was a part of the worship services he helped design). In Lutheran churches (and other Protestant denominations that emerged later), members of the congregation do the singing themselves—it doesn’t matter if the music sounds good or polished because it feels good to sing as part of a community.

 

Here is a hymn by Martin Luther, Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is Our God) (1528):

This music is not very hard to sing, which makes sense since all the citizens of a town, regardless of how musical they were, would be singing. The melodies are repetitious, and the congregation is unified by a homorhythmic texture. Also notice that the Protestant church had no problem with instruments, but the Catholic Church didn’t allow them.

Music is “the excellent gift of God.”

–Martin Luther

 

The Catholic Church’s response was to (1) excommunicate Martin Luther (meaning his soul could never enter Heaven for all of eternity), and (2) revamp their own music making away from organum and more towards a kind of polyphony we’ve listened to in class already. At the Council of Trent, a summit of leaders convened to fix the Catholic Church, the Church created a set of rules its composers (who were its employees) were required to follow when composing music. Here’s an example from Giovanni Maria da Palestrina, and all Counter-Reformation Catholic music is similar: polyphonic, no surprises in melodic contour, a reverent and holy mood, and the words are clearly heard.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1524-95), Pope Marcellus Mass, Kyrie (1567):

 

“[My goal is] to compose … Masses… [so] that the powerful and sweet sound of the voices should soothe and caress the ears of the listeners in a pious, religious, and holy way.”

–Vincenzo Ruffo (1508-87), Catholic Church composer

“I… have considered it my task… to bend all my knowledge, effort, and industry towards that which is the holiest and most divine things in the Christian religion—that is, to adorn the holy sacrifice of the Mass in a new manner.”

–Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1524-95)

Western music history, part 4: After the Counter-Reformation

We’re going to leave Western religious music here in the 16th century—after this point, secular music keeps changing with the times, but religious music isn’t terribly innovative or trend-setting. There are some beautiful pieces of religious or quasi-religious music composed in later centuries, but they’re just following trends set in other genres rather than leading the way. Much religious-inspired music from later periods captures the awe, power, and magnificence of God rather than a purely meditative, communal, or private experience.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91), Requiem, Dies Irae, K.626 (1791)

 

Johannes Brahms (1833-97), Ein Deutsches Requiem (1868)

 

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), Messa da Requiem, Dies Irae (1874)

 

Composers continue to make religious classical music in the 20th and 21st centuries, too, adopting the various musical trends that shape their modern world.

Arvo Pärt (b. 1935), Cantate Domino canticum novum (1977):

Outside of Western music history: Shakuhachi

Much religious music doesn’t require an audience; it’s not music that’s performed, just music that’s made, and the only person who needs to hear it is the person making it (and, of course, whatever higher power that person believes in). One such example is the shakuhachi.

 

The shakuhachi is a Japanese flute made out of bamboo. One of the traditional uses of this instrument was by monks in the Fuke-shū sect of Zen Buddhism. They don’t describe what they do as music at all. They refer to instrument they play not as an instrument at all, but rather as a hōki (a religious tool)—it is a means to an end.

Practitioners of this faith work to achieve an ideal mental state they refer to as Zen, which they describe as a physical transformation or sensation similar to that described by musicians of other traditions (and non-musicians that Csikszenmihalyi has studied): loss of ego, transcendence of individuality, weightlessness, time dilation, attentional focus, mental clarity, intense pleasure, and a transformed sense of self. The experience is not necessarily a religious one, but most practitioners do describe a sense of communing with or coming into contact with timeless, universal knowledge (through the ironically impermanent medium of sound) and emerging transformed for the better.

People who play the shakuhachi use the instrument as a means to achieve Zen (players call it suizen, or Zen that comes from blowing). Making a sound on the instrument at all is a difficult task (required intense concentration, one of Csikszentmihalyi’s criteria for flow), and players focus on controlling gradual, subtle changes in the quality of sound they make. Through years of study, they become more in tune with their bodies, become more intimately aware of the feeling of air moving through the instrument, and become more sensitive listeners—the control and awareness they develop are all ways to get closer to a Zen state of mind. Shakuhachi players regard suizen not as a momentary occurrence, instantaneous revelation, or passing goal, but rather as an ongoing process or lifestyle because it causes a permanent transformation of the self.

“The biggest joy of all to be found in the shakuhachi, however, is in the actual playing.  To describe it to someone who doesn’t play the shakuhachi is almost impossible, even more so when he plays no musical instrument at all.  For example, how would a bird explain to a human how it feels to fly?  With that in mind, I shall try to describe my feelings while playing any musical instrument.  There are times, rare indeed, when I’m playing along, and suddenly it seems that I’m not playing at all.  That is, everything seems to go on automatic.  My fingers continue to move, my lips adjust themselves properly, but my conscious self seems to be sitting to the side watching it happen, listening to the music with extreme pleasure.  And maybe once or twice during the five years I have played the shakuhachi, even the consciousness of the listener seemed to disappear.  Everything disappeared.  All that remained was the music of the shakuhachi.  Pure, timeless and eternal.  How does it feel to fly?”

—Riley Lee, “An American looks at the shakuhachi of Japan: 1 April 1986,” in The Annals of The International Shakuhachi Society, Vol. 1, ed. Dan Mayers, p. 114

 

This is a kind of music that isn’t intended for any audience—it doesn’t matter if anyone else is around to hear the sounds of the instrument (or even if the sounds are any good!). The purpose of playing is for the shakuhachi player himself (women didn’t traditionally play this instrument) to enter into a heightened mental state and return to the real world a better, more enlightened person. As an added bonus, for those who happen to be listening, the sounds are beautiful, as well!

 

Final thoughts

The idea of music having the ability to create transcendent experiences—something beyond the typical human experience, that lifts you out of the physical world, and in which you feel a connection with God, the universe, or something equally cosmic—is something that’s found in many different musical styles around the world. The fact that many different human experiences in different times and different places share the same sensation is part of why I enjoy studying music: it underscores our humanity despite our differences. We can feel a sense of kinship or connection to people whose lives are quite different from our own because we understand how music makes someone feel.

-Dr. J.

Some questions to get the conversation started

Don’t feel like you have to answer all or any of these, they’re just here to, well, get the conversation started!

  • Describe a time that you had a flow experience: what were you doing that triggered it, and how did it feel?
  • Which would be the most important thing to you for a meaningful religious experience: your faith, a sense of community, sound of the music, or having a flow experience?
  • How have you seen or experienced music in the context of another religious faith (i.e., not Christianity or Zen Buddhism)?

 

 

 

99 thoughts on “Music and religion (Online discussion #3)

  1. I feel tht music unifies the masses , a community of people all listening to one sound . I feel that the Protestants understood this and that’s why they made a new style of music which incorporates the cizitens of that time . I feel that by doing this people of the era can feel like there a part of something bigger then themselves , feel this sense of god or a higher power . Music puts us in one unified mindset and I feel that’s why music is such a big part in religion because it puts us in the same flow . That’s why enjoying sharing musically experience with people because you get feeling of harmony and synchronization.

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    1. I agree that music unified people and it is something that keeps us as one. When at church people who want to feel that spirit no matter the song they are a unit and praise the lord together. Very interesting your perspective on the deeper meaning behind music and religion.

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    2. I agree with your statement. In every culture, that group of people will most likely listen to the same sound. Also, the idea that God exists is so people believe that there is someone watching over them.

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    3. Do you think that music still unifies the masses, a community of people listening to one sound, and also do you is it really only one sound?

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      1. Yes i still believe music unifies a mass. Whether it’s religious or non religious people always find a common ground when music is involved or anything they share a common interest to.

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        1. I completely agree with your comment. Music is a big part of religion. No matter whether it’s Christianity, Islam, Jewish, or any other religion they all have a common ground and that is music. When I go to mass on Sunday’s they sing hymn after hymn after each section of the mass. Music brings peace and comfort.

          Liked by 1 person

    4. As a universal language, music unites people across cultures and can comfort people in times of need and sadness. Musicians see music’s tremendous power not only as a personal spiritual experience but also as a force for change, serving as a a voice for social advocacy and/or enhancing mutual understanding between differing cultures.

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  2. Any time that I consistently listen to good music it keeps me in the “flow experience”. One thing that triggers me the most though is writing music. When writing music my mind is completely in a isolated mode where I’m focused on expressing myself the best and I don’t even notice the time moving. Just recently I remember I got in late one night at around 2am and started listening to beats and writing then next thing I know the sun is up and it’s 7am and I had no sense of time as the night had a good flow to it l.

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    1. The same thing happens to me. Every night I get that type of flow experience while listening to music. Sometimes it goes on for hours and those hours feel like just a couple of minutes. It makes me feel happier and satisfied with life. When I have life problems, I listen to music. I just forget it away and feel happy. It makes me think about having positive experiences in my future life.

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    2. I have experienced a similar experience as well with allowing myself to grow more interest in being exposed to different songs, and if I am doing something on my phone or an electronic device while relaxing then my mind will be tricked into thinking. In other words, mobile radiation as well as any form of movement or 5 senses can keep time flowing as well as you mentality.

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    3. I also get the same sense of flow, weather I write music or listen to music I lose myself in the music like a deep state of concentration. Music has that power to send you off somewhere else. Which is why I and so many others gravitate to it so much.

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    4. I totally understand, this feeling is so amazing! i have the similar experience like you. It’s like you are in your own spirit world, talking to yourself and express your feeling through music.

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    5. I can relate. Sometimes when I listen to beats late at night I vibe out and get into a crazy writing space where I can write song after song and nothing phases me. When I get into a flow like that I’m my best because I end up putting a lot of raw emotion into the music I create. It’s super wavy getting into a space like that.

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    6. I can definitely agree with that. I love listening to music so I usually always listen to it whenever I need to get something done. It helps me focus a lot more and definitely does help me “flow” in a lot of things that I do, for example when I’m doing assignments or organizing things around my house.

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  3. Although I haven’t fully witnessed music in the context of another religion I would say to get the most meaningful experience out of it would be to channel my faith. To me I believe that my faith will drive me to feel the music more and accept it deeply to make it shape my emotions.

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    1. I agree with that too because if I were at a wedding ceremony for example and there’s christian music playing then I would have to channel some kind of faith into the entire listening so that I can really get a feel for what everyone else there is feeling. That way we allow it to take our emotions and enjoy the experience overall for what the music is trying to make it be. Music serves many purposes like for intensifying a gathering of individuals.

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  4. To keep the conversation going I want to know from anyone that read this if you enjoy something so much that it puts you in a flow experience do you always have the power to control when the flow experience stops or do you let it take it course until something stops it? For me it took the sun coming up when writing music to say “ok time for me to get some sleep”. Do you have control over something that puts you in a trance? Let me know.

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    1. I dont think we have the power to control a flow experience. If we did it wouldn’t be flow at all. The trance itself is a way to lose yourself consciously in an activity that brings you pleasure. We cant turn it on and off. This relates to discussion one where we discussed how our bodies have physiological reactions that we can’t control. I think flow is one of those reactions. We do it unconsciously and sometimes we don’t even know if we are doing it or not.

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      1. I completely agree with you, i don’t think we can turn a “flow” on or off. Its an experience that happens to everyone when they fully connect with that certain type of music, whether it be religious or not.

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      2. I totally agree with you. The power of a flow experience is strong enough to let us forget about time. And all we will do is enjoy it and participate in it.

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      3. Why do we want to control the flow, just enjoy it and take it. Just follow your heart and let it flow out, I believe many people’s inspiration is coming from those “flow”.

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        1. I agree with you. There is no need to control our magical flow experience. The only thing we should do is just flow with it.

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      4. Do you think if we could control when we “flow” what do you think we could be capable when it comes to school and work? Do you think we would be able to complete assignments in rapid succession?

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    2. Flow is something we can’t control so I don’t think its something that we let happen or control when it stops because we are unaware when it happens. I feel as if a big part to a flow experience is enjoying what your doing, whether its playing video games, listening to music, dancing, or playing sport etc. When people spend time enjoying themselves everything else, even time goes unnoticed.

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      1. I agree with your opinion that we are unaware when it happens. In my case, when I do meditation, I become to fall into concentration by unawareness. That lead me happy and my brain refresh.

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      2. Don’t you think you can trigger a flow experience with enough practice and dedication? I think this same concept applies to meditation where you pretty much just clear your mind and this absence of thoughts in your mind is peaceful to the point where you can do this for an hour and it’ll feel like it’s only been 30 minutes. People that enjoy meditation can sometimes do this for hours and it’s enjoyable because time feels like its being manipulated around you all from your mind so that’s interesting but I think we can all trigger flow experiences if we wanted to. Its harder for college students since we’re always busy I guess.

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    3. I would’t say I have control over a flow experience but whenever I start doing something I enjoy and could get lost in for hours, I set alarms if I have something important to do that day.

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    4. When im in the flow of drawing, the trance usually ends when im done with my artistic point of view. But whenever i see another inspiration i get back on the same sheet and add to my work of art.

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    5. Chrisyoung986 this question of yours is very interesting because I was wondering the same thing…If people have the power to control it.
      Me….I am not too sure if I hold the power to control it but one thing is for sure that I do not want to control it…I want for it to take its course and stops whenever because I am so much more happier and so much more satisfied with my own decisions during this so called flow experience that I rather stay in it then come back from it. There are many other things around us that control this flow for us such as our difficulties, our everyday things that we have to do, our environment so there are more factor.
      This is just my opinion because you asked…let me know if you agree to that

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  5. I think music is an essential part of many religions throughout the world because of the fact that it can awaken our human senses. It has the ability to divert us in a state of mind where we can actually feel the spiritual vibrations by which we feel more closer to our inner self or God. When I studied Hinduism in high school I learned that music plays an important role in Hinduism. Through music, they worship the god and describes his powers and blessings. It makes them remember the unvarying aspects of life such as birth, love, death while showing appreciation to their god and it is truly divine because it enhances their devotion to God. I think it is true. I think music does have the ability to make us feel all these feelings inside us. What do you guys think? Did you ever feel closer to your inner self or God while listening to music?

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    1. Yes I feel God is closer when music is playing and were singing hymns about praising him. Depending on the situation and the song being sung I remember times that tears were brought to my eyes. How do you feel religion, church or mass would be without music?

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      1. I think without music they would have been really dull and boring. Music is something beyond words can explain and the religion is the same thing. It is something that we have to believe in or feel inside and, music helps us to get that type of feeling.

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  6. One thing that triggered me to have a flow experience is reading one of my favorite book. When reading a good book I just completely get lost in every word,sentence and page. I get so addicted to the plot and the character development that I cant stop turning the page and read some more. And once I finished the book thats when I realize that a couple hours have gone by. I felt that I was in a state of bliss. There were no distractions, no stress, no external factors affecting my flow. There was only me and the book. Nothing else mattered at the time.

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    1. When I read my favorite book, I fall into plot of the book. However, sometimes, some vocabularies distract me, and disrupt my flow. Do you have same happen like me?

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    2. That’s actually happened to me, when I find a really good book. Do you ever feel like you just completely get so absorbed into the book so much that you feel you’re a part of it?

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  7. Generally speaking, music and religion both are kind spiritual sustenance for human, also represent the long-term development and evolution of human civilization. Specifically, music is an important form of art, which is the advanced form of artistic and aesthetic beauty of sound media, which reflects people’s pursuit and enjoyment of beauty. Religion is the ideology and embodiment of people’s faith, which is the basis and ideal transmission of the soul. To put it this way, music and religion have a natural close relationship that never seems to have been separated.Many of music’s contents religious ideal and the important way to spread religion is by using music works of different types and contents. For me, the music that flows me the most type of music call chinoiserie, it is close relevance to traditional Chinese religion music. It uses many Chinese traditional musical instrument, such as zither, lute, erhu and so on. Those instruments remind me the history and flow me all the time.

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  8. I have a flow experience every time I read a book that I love. I remember one time that I had to wake up early in the morning and that night I was planning to go to sleep around 10:00 pm. I had started to read a story on a site called wattpad at around 8:00 pm after I had finished my homework. I remember looking at the time and it was still early but the next time that I looked at the time it was past 1:00 am. I was so surprised at first I thought that the time was wrong. When you want to escape reality you may forget it even exist.
    I am not a very religious person even if I do believe that there is someone out there, is it a god, goddess that I don’t know, I don’t like the church so I don’t have any religious experience.

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  9. Music is a very powerful thing. It has the power to effect your emotions, & it can unify a divided people. I guess you can say music can put a group of very diverse people all on the same page which is why i believe that music is an extremely necessary part of any faith or religion.. & this is where flow comes in. I dont think its possible to control a flow. The beauty of a flow experience is the fact that you get lost in a different world, a different dimension, a happy place where you feel free & happiness that you dont often experience. For people who consider theirselves to be “loners” or “outcasts”, music can make them feel like for the first time in their lives they belong to something way bigger than their minds can concieve.

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  10. A time where I have experienced “flow”, was when I was attending mass of Sunday at my Catholic Church. We were all chanting “Hail Mary full of Grace” prayer. This chant triggered my “flow”, because the entire church was reciting this prayer as one. This put me in a state of happiness and belonging, it felt almost if the more we chanted on, the closer spiritually we would connect to Mary.

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      1. I feel like that song puts me into a “flow” more than others, because it symbolizes so many different emotions in one song. Just by the sound and lyrics it draws me in to feel sympathy and love for what Jesus did for his people.

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  11. When it comes to religion , what is a song,ritual, prayer that connects with you, and why?
    -A song that connects with me would be “Via Dolorosa”. It’s a song that emphasizes what Jesus had to endure on his way to be crucified.

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    1. Yes! I think religion is all about your faith. If you don’t believe in any particular religion but still believe in the fact that “there is something beyond us or more powerful than us” then people will call you spiritual; not religious!!.

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    2. Yes!!!! I think having faith is the most important thing when it comes to religion. Once you believe there’s a high power, nothing else matters. Eventually God will show you he exists. There are many religions around the world and they all only exist because people believe. We’ve never physically met God, but once you walk with faith you’ll see that he exists.

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    3. Of course faith is important for religion because through the reading, they imply that churches were the only ones making music. But not everyone had the same faith which resulted in new churches. This lead to multiple variations of music because churches wanted to make songs that resemble their own faith.

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  12. The most importing thing to me for a meaningful religious experience is faith. To have is to have the complete trust or confidence in something. If someone doesn’t have faith in their religion its almost like they don’t believe in it.Once someone has faith in their religion the praise comes after, such as the music, testimonies, sense of community, and flow experiences. When it comes to religion i don’t thing music can make someone have faith or believe in it. I feel is if music is just one of the ways to praise or worship a religion and and it defiantly can trigger many people flow experience. For example when use to go to church when i was a kid I felt as if i was in church forever when the pastor use to just talk the whole service but when everybody would sing songs and dance the service felt way quicker and i think thats because the music triggered my flow.

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  13. I’ve experienced flow many times when listening to music, and I don’t feel that it’s something that can be controlled. I have also heard many times of religious music such as music from Christianity to Islam , and both have they’re own unique sound . I’m not a very religious person so I don’t quite remember the experiences I’ve had with religious music. I’ve maybe heard it down the street and just thought it was something new or interesting, but that’s about it.

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  14. The last time i experienced what I would consider a sense of flow was when I took a road trip with my friends. I usually absolutely hate driving long distances but when I was in the car with my friends joking around and listening to all our old favorite songs it made the drive enjoyable and pass by incredibly quick. I feel like the most important thing for me to have a meaningful religious experience would be a sense of community. I haven’t been to church many times but I remember playing high school sports and our team singing together on the bus ride to games. I felt like it brought us all closer together and made us feel like one.

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  15. I think you need faith, it is very important to religion. If you have no faith in what you believe in then what’s the point of practicing it. You need trust in God or whomever in order to believe. I also feel community comes together when you go to church. Seeing the same people on Sundays, always saying good morning and having good conversations really shows a different side of people. Music I feel also brings people together. When you sing your heart out God’s hymns it’s like you are singing your prayers and singing to God to send help or to just thank him for all he’s done for you. It also gives you a nice calm feeling of peace and hope that life is ok.

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  16. On my words, the most important thing for a meaningful religious experience is to have a flow experience. The reason I say so is because a flow experience will let us forget our worry and born to a new person. In that time, we are who we are. I went to church several years with my grandparents when I was little. During the few years, I’ve seen a lot of people who was desperate to the world, turn to full of hope to their life after they join this big family. Participate in the activity, join in the choir, show up every Sunday, every step they made built a new personality. And they gradually find the meaning for their life. Besides, I think faith, sense of the community and sounds of music are part of the flow experience. Because of these elements support a flow experience, people could forget about the time and enjoy every second.

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    1. I really like your point ” flow experience will let us forget about worry and born into a new person, in that time we are who we are”. Can I understand the meaning of flow experience as the time? because as time goes by, our experience are flowing although we don’t realize it. everything that has ever make you feel sad or unhappy would pass and we become a better, stronger person we never thought we could be.

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  17. I had seen Buddhism’s music in South Korea when I was young girl. Then, I didn’t have any religion, however, my mother’s religious belief is Buddhism. I went to temple by my mother’s force. When Buddhist service began, I listened sound simple repeat by moktak and Buddhist prayer. The moktak is made by wooden percussion instrument. Although I didn’t understand the Buddhist prayer, but my awkward feeling transfer to comfort feeling by moktak sound. That was how I had experienced other religion: now I am a Christian.

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    1. I find your comment to be really interesting, that music can impact a person and put them in some kind of trance. That can put one in a state of having good feeling or bad feelings and in your case you were having good feelings. The same happens with me when i go to church, church music brings happiness to my heart

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  18. A scenario out of the variety of events in which I have encountered a flowing experience would have to be at work. I tend to have a customer centric focus, and provide my full attention to all customers. Work is much more like a game than most other things we do during the day. It usually has clear goals and rules of performance. It provides feedback either in the form of knowing that one has finished a job well done, in terms of measurable sales or through an evaluation by one’s supervisor. A job tends to encourage concentration and prevent distractions, and ideally, its difficulties match the worker’s skills. Instead of spending a lot of effort trying to cut corners, I spend the same amount of attention trying to find ways to accomplish more on the job. This is because I have a goal-oriented mentality that makes me thrive and strive for more challenging opportunities. By keeping this in mind time tends to shift or transition as rapidly as the blink of an eye. I maintain self-motivation which leads me to gaining a sense of enjoyment through my achievements

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  19. Although a flow experience can be found as ubiquitous, can flow experience be measured and determined through an in depth analysis? Also what else does this particular subject of matter correlate to?

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  20. I think we’ve all been thought the flow experience at different points in our lives. I believe that one of the ways I go through the flow experience depends all on the lyrics of the music and the mood I’m in. I feel like when I’m going through things in life and I find music that can relate to the things I’m experiencing allows time to fly by. I love music that has lyrics and I can relateable. Music that tell your story in my opinion are some of the best music. For example, if you’ve ever been through a heart ache, many of us listen to slow music with heart broken lyrics. We could sit for hours and not realize it because at the specific time the flow is doing it for us.

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  21. Do you think we can control when and where we can have the flow experience? If so, would you really want to control? And why?

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    1. Yes, we can control where we experience flow it varies where and what occasion we want to experience flow. I personally would control my flow for an enhanced experience weather it’s in church or at home I enjoy losing myself in music and I’ve learned to enjoy music just about anywhere so for a better experience I just ignore everything that isn’t my music and just focus and usually just get the flow, and it changes my state of mind weather I was upset or celebrating something. @angelajanela

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  22. We have nothing but facts proving that we are part of a flow when listening to music with a crowd of people like churches, clubs, concerts etc. usually everyone is on the same page when it comes to the occasion of the music. When I go to concerts with my friends we all have the same thing in mind, have fun. It has shown over time that keeping a “flow” is important with any particular of gathering where music will be held. Churches have used this method to invoke a better mind set and spiritual unity for the listener because music influences our thought patterns and how we perceive things.

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  23. Whenever i am drawing i find myself in the “flow experience”. What triggered my drawing was i was visiting downtown and saw the way of life, human and traffic and that inspired me into grabbing a sheet of paper and seeing what flow out of my hand into an artistic view once i got home. When i draw i feel like i’m showing who i am within, like no words could describe. Who i really am is illustrated when i work my art. When i was drawing this i felt lost but not in a sense of mind but in the scenery of how beautiful it was and how life itself is so captivated. I noticed myself lose track of time when i saw the clock at 8pm knowing i started in the afternoon. It made me feel relieved because it felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. It may have been for a few hours but to me it felt like a lifetime.

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    1. When I go through hard times and I listen to my favorite gospel songs, especially that give me hope and I realize that there is more to life than what I’m going through. I all of a sudden remember the Bible promises and the words of the song talk to me as it were and I literal feel weightless. The burden feels like its off my shoulders and I feel light. Its a wonderful experience and a reassuring one.

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      1. npchiyang wa
        I agree too because when I listen to religious songs I feel this power like I did something great or that hard times are going to go away and something better is ahead of me even though i am still in the same situation. I feel like the melodies in the songs and the beats accompanying the lyrics and music gives us a positive way of thinking in which case the same situation become easier to deal with not because it became easier but only because now we start to think positively about it.

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    2. I do feel like the world is lifted off my shoulders whenever I am dancing and experience the “flow experience” because it makes me forget about everything else that is bothering me and it also makes me feel more confident because I am doing what I love and my mind is just focused on dancing.

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  24. I’ve had a few moments when I’ve gotten trigger happy. This is usually when I’m doing something art related. I remember once I was outside drawing from observation and it was beautiful outside, I was in a little park in manhattan. I was using a thin sharpie pen, something I normally don’t use. I was just so lost in drawing the scenery that before I had even realized hours had passed. It actually came out way better than I expected despite using sharpie. I definitely feel that the scenery had a lot to do with it as well.

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  25. last year, i choose to come here study, and at that time my English was not good. i couldn’t understand what professor was talking about in class and i didn’t know a lot people in here, i was really miss my parents and sometimes when i see other people hang out with their friends or family i feel so lonely and i think i made a such bad choice to come to this city. but i don’t want be negative all the time, then i find a way to solve it, i choose to reading, to see movies, listen to music, just imagine to stay in the same story with those characters and try to feel their feelings and think about if i were her or him what i will do, i remember in that period i was like dating with books all the time. it makes me feel so good that i cannot realize the time pass by and i try to do those stuff as much as possible when i am free.
    and now I’ve already stay in here for a year, i am not shy anymore and i try to talk with other people, try to make friends with them, to me, i was like born again, there are so many things happen on me and i really changed a lot, no matter in personality or the way i thinking. i guess that’s the meaning of flow, because you are doing the things you enjoy, you forget about pain, forget about time, you stay in your own mental state happily.

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    1. Riyuming Xu…..my feeling is similar to yours except I was bullied a lot when I first came to this country. When slowly I decided to change my own situation and state of mind, the only thing helped me get over my shyness and this barrier and thinking of not good enough was music. Not even my parents could help me get over that because I am not saying that they dint help me at all but they are also humans after all so everything they told me only went to my mind as an advice not confidence or that thinking that I needed to figure the fact out that I can do it or I am good enough. I had to figure it out myself by putting my mind into the state where nobody but my mind and my way of thinking is in effect in which case m only friend was music. Listening to music gives me confidence, gives me reasons to to be happy and gives me tears listening to sad songs when I cannot hold it in anymore and I just need to let it out. Music sends me in that state of mind where I can be whatever I want and do whatever I want. I feel what you are saying because I was also shy and moreover I was scared to stand up for myself.

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  26. Music is related to religion in many ways. One of the main ones is the purpose that it serves in our daily lives. What I mean by that is when we think of religion we generally think about a belief and the power it gives to succeed in daily lives and overcome certain situations of our lives. Music also serves the same purpose because music gives us that possibility of something that seems impossible. Music also helps change our emotions and the way we feel about certain things depending on how and which music we relate to. A great example would be.. Listening to music when we are feeling down or there are no chances of hope in a certain situation, listening to music helps us in the sense of hope and it gives us the idea of having hope and how important that is. Music, like religion gives us something to believe in and most of all it gives us a reason to be happy in the moment and gives us a reason to move on with ease.

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    1. Ruiming Xu…..Listening to music that is related to my situation and current state of mind….wether it is me being happy, sad, confident, confused, etc.

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    2. Whatever habit you do constantly everyday can be consider flow. If it makes you happy or a sense of where has time gone can be considered flow.

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    3. Music is one of the things that make me flow when I’m at the gym i listen to music to get me energetic and keep pushing forward till i can’t no more.

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  27. I experience the “flow experience whenever I’m listening to music and dancing. Anytime I am at a party and I hear music with really good beats or music of my culture it triggers me to get up and dance. Whenever I’m in a bad mood listening to music and dancing always makes me feel happy, free, and more energetic. The feeling of the flow experience I get from dancing is a good vibe because it makes me want to be more active. For example instead of sitting down and watching TV I would play music really loud and dance in my room. Going to the gym is somewhat boring to me even if I’m listening to upbeat music so therefore I would rather just play music and dance at home in my room because it’s more enjoyable for me.

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    1. In my opinion i do not believe all flow experiences happen naturally music is a big factor of (flow experiences) when i workout i can’t just go with the flow i need some type of tune to keep me going and that tune is (rap/hiphop).

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    2. Sometimes flow experiences can happen on command but would need a trigger in order for it to occur, most people find themselves being triggered naturally, while others do it when they know that whatever they’re doing needs their entire focus.

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  28. Best flow experience is when you are working without realizing. That’s the best thing when it comes to business. I have learn in business to keep everyone working and producing you must create the best work environment. For example, I work with friendly people, who enjoy working and having fun. Which keeps us distracted from realizing that our job sucks. It’s not only the friendly people and work environment but the music that is being played on the radio that keeps a nice flow going on for me which makes me enjoy my job and heavy work.
    I even have the best flow experiences when I’m riding my bike. I don’t think about it when I going up a giant hill but lose my thoughts by the beautiful water weaves next to the triborough bridge. Everyone needs some sort of flow in their life that takes their minds to another world like the monks who played

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  29. I think the connection that music and religion share is very strong because during a flow experience for example when you and a group of people are similar in the way that you all have the same firm belief then listening to a particular piece like a gospel song creates a more relieving environment where you can all feel safe with everyone around you. That moment can feel peaceful and with any flow experience I would define it as like a form of meditation where you get lost in time because of the music’s effects on our brains.

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  30. Flow is the best sensation anyone can experience. My best memory of having “flow” is when I am working out. When I wake up in the morning, I look myself in the mirror and always challenge myself to look better physically. I would spend countless hours at the park just playing basketball. I would never look at my phone to check the time, after every game, I will get a sip of water then to another game. I was just too concentrated to care about anything honestly. That experience alone was really exciting. Your doing something you love and time goes by so fast you don’t even realize it. The best meaningful religious experience has to be a sense of community. Religions can bring people who can be complete strangers to one another together. I experienced this by being apart of a retreat. I felt apart of something special with random people. This feeling came from talking to one another. Discussing the same issues we all face with in our everyday lives. That retreat changed my bad habits and made me more positive minded. I had a sense of not being alone sort of speak. I experienced another religious faith by attending my friends bar mitzvah. I have been to celebrations before but this experience really brought it to the next level. His family explained to me everything from the reading of the torah to the celebration. And the most famous song played is called the Hava Nagila. Right here is the Hava Nagila (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSTOcyevIOE), it is a song that everyone would recognize maybe from movies or personal friends. A question I have about this what is the origin of Gregorian chant? My final question is, how is Christain music lyrics composed?

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  31. The Flow of music is what empowers the human body to trigger our emotions and make one with energy either it be good energy or bad energy. All, that matters is that we feel something that makes us move and strive for the better of ourselves. When, i workout i use my music (hiphop/rap) to help me focus and motivate me to keep going and the music triggered my mind and heart when i was tired to keep working harder and at the end i will get my results that i wanted. I hate the fact that some people in religions criticize you for what type of music you listen to. That the only music you should listen to is your religion music or any sort of religion music. Don’t get me wrong some people have a taste for religion music but thats not my cup of tea. Religion music does not help me to workout i need something that flows and makes me amp up (rap/hiphop music) does the trick. Other, then that i go to church on Sundays with my parents and listen to church music, where the flow of church music unifies us and brings this emotion of joy in my heart. There are different type of music that has its place and time but what ever you like is all on you and I don’t think as we (society) should judge one another because we listen to different type of music because what matters in your life is the type of music that will make you flow and motivate you to be you and keep living.

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  32. One time I had a flow experience was when I played basketball at night on Roosevelt Island. I was having a rough day so my friends came by my house and we went out to play ball. We started running full court games and I got so into the games that I didn’t realize I hadn’t checked my phone for over three hours. I was really indulged and focused on the game to the point where everything else became irrelevant. It felt good to not focus about anything else but the task at hand. Sometimes it’s good to space out and just enjoy life in the moment,.

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  33. I experience flow when im reading a book or watching a series on netflix. the last time i experienced flow i was reading the book 13 reasons why. I told myself ill read one or two chapters just to get my mind off of whatever i was going through at the time and before i knew it, it was the next morning. I also experience flow when i get into a bad mood and i put my headphones on and blast my music. i just love to drown the world out and focus on me.

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  34. The most important thing to me for a meaningful religious experience would have to be your faith. if you don’t believe in a higher being depending on your religion the the music and the words of the holy book wouldn’t mean anything to you. it would just be a regular song or regular book. your faith is what keeps you interested and motivated.

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  35. My flow experience came simply from being put on the spot when i had to complete a match in a game for my team, i was the last one standing and we were so close to beating the boss, i couldn’t handle the stress because i had to pick up and revive my entire team, then the games music changed and got really up beat and energetic, i suddenly felt relaxed, as if all my worries of losing went away. i focused so hard that i didn’t feel myself blinking, my eyes darting from one end of the screen to the next and my hands felt as if it was its own entity. I was able to stay alive long enough to revive my teammates and we ended up winning the battle, everyone was so happy and impressed, the music really helped because it hit me so suddenly.(Sorry for being a nerd)

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    1. Exactly what I was talking about. Things that happen once in a life time can definitely have great impact on your life, thus making the individual feel the “Flow” of it. I totally agree.

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    1. Do you think that maybe there would be a possibility of them being more or less angry? As most music has no substance? No meaning? No feeling anymore? It’s the same old cookie cutter thing every time(at least with rap music)?

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  36. I’d like thing that the “Flow Experience” has more so to do with everything that we’ve ever done throughout our life time. Whether it’s listening to music, walking in a certain way, or even sleeping. When we do these things, there is definitely a connection more or less, we just don’t notice it. Ever. It’s more like an anonymous, ambiguous sort of feeling that we want to THINK is there, but it’s not. Being as most of the time, we human beings do the same old things every single day of our lives with no major change. That’s probably why we don’t feel a “Flow” as much as we may have before.

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