What is flow and why would anyone get into it?
Flow is a state of optimal performance that feels good. It is what separates the best from the best of the best. What makes it unique is that it’s the only known state experienced as positive by everyone. In a way there is no bad flow, but since a cocktail of the most addictive chemicals are released in the body, people tend to go really far to get it again.
It helped me to push myself beyond what I believed to be possible; opening doors to almost reality bending feats. The beautiful part is that it’s experienced all over the globe. and now we have the language to tell the tale and the science to back it up. Are you ready to dive in the world of the impossible? Are you ready to open the door to a more creative and productive life? Here is one way to help you get that, and it’s super practical! Of course it takes practice, but with this knowledge you’ll learn to find your own personal flow strategy that will help you on your way.
The best moments of our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (responsible for the foundation of the modern world of flow)
It is experienced by people from all walks of life and it’s the only know state of consciousness that feels good all the time. You might have lost your sense of time and wrote an essay faster than ever before, for example. Or after practicing something very hard everything seems to fall into place. Flow can only be found in the actual moment, without thinking about anything else. Scientists found that the part of the brain that’s responsible for time interpretation or calculation shuts off in flow. In flow there is no past or future anymore. You are free of outcome and expectations. You just do what you do, effortlessly. Everything that exists for you and your brain is what helps you focus and flow away!
In flow, conscious processing is replaced by subconscious processing. Conscious processing is very limited, whereas subconscious processing seems to be infinite. Scientists try to calculate how much information the subconscious mind can process compared to the conscious mind. They came up with crazy numbers that I won’t present here, because I want you to experience the limitless feeling of flow yourself.
Flow follows focus. This is the rule. So, in order to understand flow, you need to understand focus as well.
To focus means to centralize your attention to one point. This point can be a goal or a step towards that goal.
Energy flows where attention goes. It takes energy and ´effort´, which is ´the active use of energy´ to pay attention and focus. This energy expresses itself physically, mentally and emotionally, and follows your attention. From deep inside, out into the world.
You can only do one thing at the time, so please throw the idea of multitasking out of the window. The ability to freely move your attention at will, will help you to focus and thus experience more flow.
Benefits of Flow
Increased productivity and creativity
Even days after a flow experience people report an increase in creativity. In flow people are up to 5 times more productive, which means that if you are working in flow on Monday, you could take the rest of the week off, and still get as much done as you normally would. The U.S. Navy Seals rely on group flow to learn faster and not to die during missions. It’s an important part of their work and training. New employees at google are screened for the ability to get into flow. Giant corporations have integrated this knowledge for many years already. It’s about time that more people learn about flow.
It flushes the nervous system and resets it. Steven Kotler, a key figure in the scientific world of flow claims to have cured his Lyme decease with the state. In one video he said: When people ask me how I cured my Lyme decease, I tell them they won’t do it. I used surfing and medical marijuana. He said he had panoramic vision and his sense of time altered. It’s hard to integrate a quasi-mystical experience as a material scientist, according to Kotler. It opened up a whole new world to him, I think this deeply personal experience motivated him to learn everything he can about flow, and to share it freely.
Self-esteem increases after a flow experience. People with more flow in their lives are generally more confident.
Csikszentmihalyi, who did a lot of the groundwork for flow, said that the happiness derived from flow is more in our control than the happiness we get from pleasure or relationships, since it doesn’t necessarily depend on external circumstances or other people. He also said it gives us enjoyment, not pleasure. We feel pleasure when we’re content, comfortable, and doing something familiar, like getting a massage or watching a movie. Enjoyment involves some novelty and requires energy to activate. But once we get started, we gain a confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
Flow is such a focused state that our ghosts can’t follow us there.
When you get better at getting into flow, you learn how to ignore distractions. This is a valuable skill that can be used to deal with negative emotions and even trauma. Also, nowadays we are constantly bombarded with information. Increased focus gives you the upper-hand in our modern society.
Afterglow of flow
The benefits like increased creativity, self-esteem and focus tend to last for days after the experience. This makes me wonder about the long term benefits and the future of flow. Does it slow down the aging process? Can you use it to stay younger, longer? These might seem like silly questions at first, but when you get into the art and science of flow, nothing seems too far fetched anymore.