Being in the Flow

Posted by kelly on April 9, 2014 at 8:20 PM

"Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity." According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, flow is completely focused motivation. This is akin to "being in the zone".

Lately, there have been a few instances where I have been in the flow. I usually have these moments when I am being physical or playing tennis. The last few tennis matches I have played, I have felt all of those feelings: energy, focus, full involvement, enjoyment and a sense of being skilled and accomplished. I felt especially in the flow in my hot yoga class today. I think part of that was being surrounded by several very proficient students who make standing bow pose look so effortless and beautiful. They motivated me to lift my leg higher over my head.:) Yesterday, I felt in the flow while I was teaching a spinning class. My students and myself were immersed in the music and the pedaling up the hill sections seemed a bit more effortless.

I imagine musicians and dancers feel in the flow when they are performing and artists feel it when they are painting. Many other professionals I am sure experience flow when they are working with others creatively and have that sense of total immersion and enjoyment.
Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow:
1. intense and focused concentration on the present moment
2. merging of action and awareness
3. a loss of reflective self-consciousness
4. a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
5. a distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered
6. experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience

Bringing that sense of flow into our lives more regularly can be a challenge, but the rewards are well worth it. You don't have to be a master at your skill or profession to feel flow, but it does have to feel challenging. 

How have you experienced flow in your life, and how can you can bring it into your life more often?

Categories: Health and Happiness, Wellness

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