What Is Flow State?
If you are a creator of any kind you know what it means to be in “the zone”.
It is a profoundly pleasant state of mind where you lose track of time and become deeply engrossed in what you are doing.
Painters, musicians, craftspeople, athletes and other creatives know this feeling well; their craft depends on it. But flow state can be experienced by people an all professions. For instance, servers in restaurants or great bartenders often describe flow state. To witness a great bartender or service person in a flow state is a beautiful thing. It’s like a dance with graceful coordinated movements and everything just gets done. Because flow state is a human experience, it is your birthright to access the best your brain has to offer.
Flow state is an intimate relationship between the doer and the task. The past and the future become irrelevant and all that matters is the task at hand. Like a great love affair, the world just seems to melt away. If you love what you are doing, the state arises naturally.
In terms of brain waves, in flow state, we are in a liminal space between Alpha-the daydreaming, meditation state and Theta-the dreamlike state responsible for intuition, and imagining. The state is called Alpha-Theta. When we magically find the sweet spot between (boredom – too easy, unchallenging) and anxiety (fear and worry over failure, a task too challenging)
Many beautiful new creations are brought into the world this way.. The KEY is not to focus on the outcome,- but to instead become engrossed in the process.
The state itself arises naturally, but can you deliberately elicit flow state? There are books and blogs dedicated to the topic. If you are interested in flow state you have probably seen the usual suggestions, turn off your phone, pick a task that you are interested in, and good at, something that’s not too difficult nor too easy, listen to music, meditate. These are all good tools for getting into flow state.
Here we take things a step further and offer 8 additional tips for getting into flow state.
- Let go of your goal and replace it with intention. It may sound counter-intuitive. Some say “nothing is accomplished without a goal”. We have found this to be untrue. Having a goal or intention can have the effect of taking us out of the moment. We can risk becoming attached to an outcome and losing momentum if we fall short of our goal.
- Take a break from “good and bad.” Simply canceling these primitive concepts for a spell can help you suspend judgment and open up space for creation. Without judgment, mistakes can be a valuable part of the process. Which brings us to our next point.
- Welcome mistakes. Many of the world’s most incredible inventions were born from supposed mistakes. Mistakes can make us more creative. Sometimes what we create by accident is even better than the thing we set out to create. Look up the story of chocolate chip cookies or 3M sticky notes as an example.
- Stop trying! Let go of the idea of trying and replace it with doing. Trying feels tedious whereas doing flows easily.
- Shelve your other ideas. Have a notebook designated for ideas or thoughts that you may want to remember, but can distract you from your task. If an idea arises that is unrelated, simply jot it down and move on. Give yourself permission to save other ideas for another magical flow day further down the line.
- Give your to-do list a rest. Give yourself permission to forget things for a while. Remembering takes up a lot of brain capacity. Let distractions drift into the periphery for a little while. They will still be there tomorrow.
- Be real. Flow state is about intimacy with yourself and your creativity. Don’t try to impress yourself by picking a task that is too hard, this can easily kick you out of the zone and make you feel defeated. Let flow arise naturally rather than trying to take on too much. Pushing yourself is not a characteristic of flow state.
- Microdose. You may have heard of the benefits of microdosing psilocybin or LSD. Psilocybin has been dubbed as a an “anti-inflammatory for the ego”. Since the ego is responsible our inner critic and for comparing ourselves to others, getting a break from the ego can help us engage more deeply in the things we love doing without questioning ourselves. If you have more questions or are seeking guidance, you can contact Sarah at Forestmedicinecoaching.com
Remember that nothing lasts forever. Part of the magic of entering a desired brain state is knowing that it’s a fleeting feeling. Be compassionate and patient with yourself when you are outside of flow state. On a daily basis humans utilize many different states of mind. The contrast helps us recognize what is good about each one of them.
These are some of our suggestions. Now we want to hear from you. How do you get into flow state. What is your experience like when you do?