Athletes call it The Zone. For the rest of us, it’s known as Flow.
Flow is a state when you’re so absorbed in a favorite activity that time feels like it has no meaning, excellence is effortless and you’re in a blissful absorption into the moment. Creative types know all about flow: it’s when the lyrics and the song start to click and the words just fly onto the paper.
Meditation teaches you to appreciate being present in the moment, and being in the Flow is the deepest expression of being present.
Flow works by harnessing your emotions so that they work in service to you, rather than impeding you. In flow you channel your emotions into a positive direction so that they work completely to accomplish the task at hand.
Being caught in the flow means escaping the snags of anxiety and depression. As the emotions are harnessed to a point of being productive, negative states have no place in Flow. In fact, Flow is devoid of any emotional static.
While you’re in flow, the overall feeling is euphoria, joy and even rapture.
For those of you Right Brainers, this is the time for the Right Brain to shine. The analyzing and compartmentalization that the Left Brain specializes in has no place in flow. The Left Brain takes a well deserved break while the Right Brain brings together feeling and ability.
In fact, the Left Brain relaxes so completely that Flow feels like a state of self- forgetfulness, the opposite of rumination and examination. While in flow, you drop your usual preoccupations, like bill paying, as well as the day to day activities of daily life.
The Ego also takes a back seat, and you are free from the self serving activities of the Ego as you drift along in Flow. Without the limitations and judging of the Ego, your natural ability to do well exerts itself since you have no opportunity to judge yourself as you go along.
The irony of performing during Flow is that you’re able to perform at your best during a time that you care least about how well you perform. Thoughts of success of failure are thrown out the proverbial window during Flow. The sheer pleasure of the act is more important than evaluating the act.
What’s the best way to enter flow? Many times we slide into it without noticing it, but it is possible to purposefully enter it.
One way is to enter Flow with a high concentration on the task at hand. Using an incredible amount of discipline, you enter into Flow with an effort to calm the mind at the entry point. Eventually focus takes over the task and you stop monitoring and judging your effort as you go.
A second way to enter Flow is to find something that you are very skilled at and enter into it at a point that slightly taxes your current ability. Psychologists have found that people tend to concentrate best when working on a task that requires a bit more effort than usual. Too little and you risk getting bored. Too much and you run the risk of being overwhelmed and anxious. The trick is to honestly evaluate your skill level going in.
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