Lessons I Learnt Exploring Flow State
Flow State: Mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus
I have an affinity for self-improvement books. With the time at hand in 2020, I breezed through a handful. They all had one thing in common -Flow State. Or being in a flow state.
Flow state lights up the neural networks during and leads to a spiritual experience.
It made me ponder. It made me curious about if and when I enjoyed the privilege of being in the focus zone.
I curated the below list basis a superficial look at what I enjoyed:
Reading | Writing | Meditation | Conversations| Coding | Running | Dancing | Netflixing | Getting Drunk | Sport
I found this self-introspection exercise amusing and useful. It enabled me to dig deeper into the concept of flow state and how it applies to me.
I used my learnings to delve into the list I curated.
Lessons I Learnt Exploring Flow State
Flow State is like being in love. Healthy Love.
Love: An intense feeling of deep affection | A great interest or pleasure in something
When you are experiencing glorious love, nothing else matters. Being with the person you are in love with, is a feeling of bliss. The bliss envelopes your body and soul. The world fades away.
When you are away from the person you love, you are thinking about them. You cannot wait to go be with them.
It is blissful. It fills your heart.
Being in the flow state is like being in teenage love. The task at hand is all that matters. You are savoring every moment.
However, conditions apply.
Love is not about the dreamy feeling always.
Love is introspective. Love is respect. Healthy love leaves you satiated.
Love needs effort. Love enables growth.
You are never more in the flow state than when you are with the person you love.
Flow State and Stressful State have similarities.
It is imperative to be mindful and not confuse being in a stressful state as being in a flow state.
Both states require focus.
Both states pull you into it.
Both states make you forget the world around you.
The primary difference is apparent when you come out of the state. There is a sense of joy, accomplishment, peace when you slowly come out of the flow state. Whereas exhaustion accompanies you post-stress along with dread.
It is similar to coming out of meditation vs a drunken stupor.
Both give you a high.
Both give you a sense of joy.
Both make you come back.
Both have dramatically different long term side effects.
Flow strengthens your mind. Stress undoes it.
Present Moment and Flow State work in tandem
The more you bring your attention to the present moment the more you become self-aware. This self-awareness enables you to appreciate the times when you catch a glimpse of the flow state. This encourages you to spend more time in those activities.
Growing up I never considered myself as someone who enjoyed any sport. In my 30s when I dabbled with sports for fun I caught myself being immersed in it. This made me turn to sport for a gala time.
When you are in the flow state, everything around you diminishes. You enjoy laser-like focus and your senses are all attuned to the task at hand. Flow state draws you into the now.
You experience flow state when you are wholly present.
You experience the present moment when you are in the flow state.
Flow State Needs Discipline
We derive pleasure from activities like shopping, getting drunk, Netflixing. Pleasurable activities may give an apparent feeling of flow state, because of the immersive feeling.
These fun and frolic activities are an integral part of a healthy life.
However, these do not need effort or discipline. They do not push our boundaries or lead to growth.
Flow state activities on the other hand, like writing, need discipline and consistency to get over inertia and blocks. The outcome however is an expansion of your comfort zone.
The more disciplined and consistent you are the easier the move into the flow state and the better the output.
A sense of growth and a longer sense of achievement instead of a dopamine hit from pleasurable activities is what flow state is about.
Flow state is an offspring of positive habits.
Flow State is Creative
The biggest takeaway from my introspection was the creation coming out of flow state.
The more discipline you show in spending time doing activities that zone you in, the more you will create.
Being in the present and the dedicated focus enables our creative juices to flow. The more discipline we bring in, the more we create a framework for ourselves. The easier it is to tune into the zone.
The creation is not necessarily tangible, sometimes it’s growth, sometimes it's pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, sometimes it’s an aha moment.
Sometimes it is a piece of work you are proud of.
Flow state is the womb for creativity.
- My initial list got categorized into pleasurable states and flow states based on what I deduced.
Pleasurable States: Running | Dancing | Netflixing | Getting Drunk | Sport
Flow States: Reading | Writing | Deep Conversations | Coding |Meditation
- Curate a list of activities that give you joy, enjoyment, pleasure, growth, and creativity.
- Embark on bringing in more discipline and dedication to spend time on focus activities.
- Spend time in introspection after activities that made you happy: what about it gives me this feeling of joy, is it dopamine hit, how does it impact me, is the after effect positive or negative? Did I create anything new in my life?
- Practice being in the present moment. Meditation, focusing on breathing, and being in nature help in bringing your attention to the now.
Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. It is a state of supreme creativity. — Anonymous