How to Achieve Flow State
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How to Achieve Flow State
When you immerse yourself completely in an activity, completely surrender to the now, and lose all expectations of the outcome, the magic begins to happen. Flow state silences your ego and opens the door for your inner child to play. Not only that, but activities where you can enter a flow state, are clear indicators that your soul is aligned with this activity and is a sign that you are on the right path, that you are one step closer to your purpose. My clients always ask me how I can discover my purpose. And I say, pay attention to the activities you enjoy so much that it doesn't feel like work, where hours pass by like minutes. And not in an escapism type of way, where you are numbing yourself. No, with a flow state, you will feel full of breath and life. You will leave this activity feeling like your soul has been nourished.
So what is flow state? Flow is a state of mind in which a person becomes fully immersed in an activity. Psychologists describe flow as a state of complete immersion in an activity. Being immersed can be defined as a state of focus in which a person is completely absorbed and engrossed in their work.
You may have experienced a flow state at some point — that sense of fluidity between your body and mind, where you are totally absorbed and deeply focused on something beyond the point of distraction. Time feels like it has slowed down. Your senses are heightened. You are at one with the task at hand, as action and awareness sync to create an effortless momentum. Some people describe this feeling as being "in the zone." This is the flow state, and it's accessible to everyone, whether you're engaged in physical activity, a creative pursuit, or even a simple day-to-day task.
I first heard of flow state from my father. He was an exceptionally good tennis player and would describe his matches to me as a child. He would say, "Sometimes you would be so in the zone that the ball would be moving in slow motion that you could see the seams of the ball as it turned towards you." This story stuck with me so much; at the time, we didn't have a name for this beautiful state of mind. A little bit about me… I did competitive gymnastics for 17 years, and at the very end of high school, I finally reached what my father was talking about: flow state. I think to everyone, this could feel differently. But for me, it felt like an out-of-body experience. Like I had turned off my brain completely and allowed a flow of energy to move through my body and take the lead. My body knew exactly what to do, and I didn't have to think at all. My anxious energy was silent, and I had no worries that whatever I was about to do would be enough. That year, I won first place in all around and 3/4 events, and I also placed 1st on vault in nationals, top 5 in the nation, accompanied with a D1 full-ride scholarship to Arizona State.
And the cool thing about the flow state is once you are able to get to that level of surrender, you can reach it again and again. It becomes a muscle that becomes strong when frequently used over time. It's like a level of vibration that your system attests to, and once it tastes that level, it would love to spend most of its time there. Why? Because it feels amazing. Feels like you're floating on water, and the water is guiding you in the most aligned and creative direction. So, once I felt that flow state in gymnastics, I reached that same energy level in other activities such as dancing, studying, public speaking, writing, and yoga. The flow state was opening doors, and I trusted it and allowed it to lead me.
I personally believe that we are all a part of one larger consciousness. Our bodies are like vessels that channel energy from the larger consciousness through the top of our heads, our crown charka, which enables us to embody these thoughts and feelings. Think of each of us like antennae, and we can attune ourselves to the vibration we seek. If we are a part of one large consciousness or pool of thoughts and emotions, then we can tap into genius energy. We can open ourselves to channel those great minds that have lived before us or walk amongst us now, Michael Jordan, Einstein, Elon, Cleopatra, Oprah, or whoever you look up to. That energy exists in the larger conscious and exists within us because it is us. It exists within you. Because at the end of the day, we are all one. And when we enter the flow state, we allow that genius and creative consciousness to lead us forward.
So how do you get into a flow state?
1-Focus on the process: To obtain a flow state, you must focus on the process and stay present. There's a type of happiness called Eudemonic happiness, which solely focuses on finding joy and well-being through the process, rather than hedonic happiness, which is solely focused on the outcome. When you focus on the process, you have a greater chance of immersing yourself in the activity itself. Fall in love with the process, fall in love with the journey. I know it may feel like the outcome might be the best feeling in the world, and it will be for a short amount of time, but the real joy is in the art of hard work, commitment, and building the skills it takes to get to the outcome. For example, when you were a child and your parents gave you a toy, the toy probably ended up in the toy bin; however, when they said you could have this toy if you got good grades this semester. Suddenly your hero's journey was activated. You wanted to level up so that you could get this toy. What you didn't know was that your parents weren't just giving you some toy; they were giving you a chance to adventure, a chance to learn more about yourself, feel accomplished, and grow. Focusing on the process will lead you to a flow state.
2-Space + Freedom: To achieve an optimal flow state, you must let go of your expectations of what you want the result to be and focus on the task at hand. You have to give yourself space and freedom to create. You cannot micromanage your flow state; you must let go of perfectionist tendencies. This may be challenging when you are under pressure or doing things with a deadline. That is why you should give yourself unpressured time to tap into flow. Give yourself more time than usual to create. Once you get good at tapping into the flow, you won't need much time to flip your flow state on, but if you have an hour to write this amazing article that you haven't begun and you aren't used to tapping into the flow state, you'll be solely focused on the outcome, and your flow genie won't come to inspire you. You must give yourself time to warm up until you have mastered flipping the flow state light switch on.
With gymnastics, my favorite season was summer because we got a lot of time to play around with new skills and different skill combos. This served as our time for space and freedom. We didn't just learn a new skill and immediately compete in it at Nationals. We took our time to feel the flow of the skill. It felt like in our minds and bodies because they always had to be aligned. We fell many, many times, learning these new skills, and we weren't afraid or ashamed to fall. Our coaches gave us space to play with no expectations. So, when performing in the winter, we had already learned how to flip on the flow state with that specific skill.
3-Find your Flow Formula: You will develop an intimate and beautiful connection to your flow state, and to do that, you will have to approach it with mindfulness and curiosity. You will need to note what time of the day your flow state likes to work with you. Mine specifically peaks during the day from 8 am to 5 pm. You will learn what kind of music your flow state likes. Most flow states are typically inspired by lyric-less music so that it won't distract you from the messages that flow is working to relate to you. Investigate what kind of settings bring you into a flow state. Do you do better at coffee shops or alone in your room? You will want to consider what activities encourage your flow state. For example, if I find myself out of flow, I can dance for a while because that's a known way for me to tap back into the flow state and break up the feeling of rigidness. Everyone will have their flow state booster to help them get back to the flow. Humans do well with routines. So, what routines can you create that give you a healthy and loving way to cultivate your flow state? So
Begin journaling about your flow state
What surroundings help you get into flow?
What music, food, and tools, help you tap into flow?
What time of the day is your flow state most comfortable with?
What flow state boosters can you do to help activate your flow, like walking, meditating, dancing, journaling, free writing…
When you have reached a flow state, you'll know because great things just start pouring out of you with little to no effort, and it feels like your brain is supercharged with electric, spiritual, yet calm energy, write down the formula for how you obtained it. There's a magic formula hiding behind how you reach flow.
4-Get rid of distractions: to get into a flow state, you must get rid of distractions. Create the flow container. That means no scrolling through social media and no multitasking. It will be tough to reach a flow state when you have e-mails popping up, notifications from Twitter, or meetings interrupting your flow. So, tell your team members that you are focusing on a project for the time you need. Multitasking is a sign of procrastination and may mean that you're feeling overwhelmed with the project. If that's the case, break the project into smaller tasks and allow yourself to focus on the small task rather than the large one. Flow wants you to focus on one activity at a time so that you can open the channel for creation.
5-Find the Fun: Flow state is all about immersing yourself in the fun of the activity. And doing so with an open heart. When the heart is open, creativity just pours out of it. You don't have to force anything. That's the opposite of flow. Forcing yourself through an activity is the opposite of having fun. And to flow, you have to be willing to have fun again. Ignite your inner child and allow them to play. You remember what play feels like, right? If you don't remember, I demand you find something to play with immediately. Go play with the sand and build a sandcastle. Go play with writing and create a novel. It's the same concept, and if you look at it the same, it will take the mundane feeling of pressure off it and make it fun again. And I know some will say that, well, my income depends on whether the novel is good. And that leads you back into not focusing on the outcome but on the journey and the adventure itself. If you focus on creating a good novel, you may block yourself from creating the very thing you want so badly. Suppose you focus on immersing yourself in the writing process and the task at hand and having fun by activating the imagination and allowing your inner child to lead. In that case, you activate flow and indirectly achieve a great novel. You must trust that whatever you create will be the best version of what you have inside of you, and the version is enough to lead you to the next step, the direction you intend to go. You must trust your flow.
6-Blocked Flow: When your flow is blocked, it can be one of the most frustrating things. You may sit at the computer for hours or miss every shot you choose to shoot, which will make you feel bad about yourself. You may begin to generalize that your flow will always be blocked and start spiraling. Listen to me when I say that is not true. It's just in the moment in time; you are out of balance. Maybe your physical body isn't clean enough to channel flow; maybe you have heavy things on your mind. You cannot have fun with your activity because you are not present. This is when you take a break. Do not try to force yourself to create unless you really really have to. It will feel as if you're swimming upstream, and it won't produce what you are capable of. Take a break and do something completely different to inspire yourself. Read a book, go to lunch, take a walk, talk to a friend. Don't beat up your connection to flow because it's not there when you needed it to be. Be kind to your flow state. It wants to connect with you; it likes connecting with you. It just needs you to have a clear mind and an open heart. The flow will be back when you're ready to have fun again.
Follow your flow: Activities in which you can reach the flow state are large indicators that you are moving in the right direction. This means that you are following your heart and following your fun. Thus you are aligning your spirit with the path that is meaningful to you. Be super grateful that you have discovered your flow state, and send love to all activities that allow you to do such a thing. Flow state is a taste of the divine, the reason we are here on this planet, our purpose. Follow it, and it will graciously lead you.
Build flow on your own. And lastly… Learn to achieve flow on your own before performing in front of others. Finding flow is kind of like finding your orgasm. Most sex specialists say that to achieve orgasm with others, you have to practice with yourself first. I believe flow to be the same concept. You must practice public speaking and get into flow on your own, learning to flip that flow switch on without pressure from the outside world. Learning how to detach yourself from the outcome with no audience before you bring in other people to observe.
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