We all have our way of defining flow states. For some of us, it’s straightforward like surfing, for others, it’s elusive and unpredictable.
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi designed the Flow mode back in 1977. A beautifully segmented graph outlining the sweet spot between challenge level and skill level.
I’m not one to counter the pioneer of flow but I would use different words to define my experience of a flow state.
I see the flow state more like a Venn diagram that includes: immersion, challenge, and download.
Immersion is an activity that requires me to immerse myself in it. It requires all of my attention and focus usually due to the precision required.
The challenge for me represents a combination of skill/talent and effort. Where our skills and talent can take us 80% of the way there but the effort will come in at those last 20%
The download can also be described as our moment with the creative muse. When something arguably otherworldly takes place.
The download includes the loss of a sense of time. Arguably a transcendental experience, keeping track of time is not within the range of possibilities. 10 minutes or 10 hours are interchangeable and inconsequential too.
A state of flow is when the words just come, the instinctive to move happens at warp speed, or a pattern is seen for the very first time.
Being in flow is being in full control and full creativity. It all seems to unfold from a new perspective.
These moments and the onslaught of unknown capacity are also deeply invigorating and recharging.
Despite all the effort invested in immersion and the challenge, accessing the flow state has the unique feature of filling up our souls in the rarest fashion.
Perhaps the benefits of flow states come from the unique cocktail of chemicals created in our brains. A precise but potent cocktail of dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. Who knows?
Accessing flow states regularly allows us to develop mental resilience, soothe our nervous system and exhaust our bodies in the most satisfying ways.
How do you get into a flow state? Is it when you’re dancing, painting, or maybe even roller skating? Yes, roller skating is still cool.
As always, flow strong.