Method to access the power of flow

In neuroscience, the concept of ‘flow’ is currently fashionable.

Flow describes a specific mental state that allows us to focus intensely on a single task or topic.

In this state, time around us will increase and slow down, giving us more time to react and significantly improving our performance.

At the same time, we are quicker to solve problems and respond, and can completely block out any distracting thoughts or temptations.

So what exactly is this ‘flow’ and how does it happen?

Explaining flow

Flow is a certain mental state in much the same way that ‘fight or flight’ puts us into a certain state of mind.

In fact, the flow state is very similar to the fight or flight response, with the basic difference that fight or flight makes us more panicked and distracted, whereas flow is slightly calmer and more positive.

However, both states are triggered by a sense of threat and importance.

When the body detects that it is in danger or working towards a very important goal, it produces chemicals such as dopamine, noradrenaline and cortisol.

These increase the heart rate, tighten the muscles and generally make us more alert and ready for action.

The difference is that the flow state also produces serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and anandamide (the ‘bliss’ hormone).

This makes the feeling much more euphoric, and makes us more creative.

In other words: it is a danger/importance for pleasure and excitement.

Typical ‘triggers’ for flow states include surfing, snowboarding and sports.

This is any time when you have lost track of time and who you are, and have instead started moving purely in space, without distraction.

This can also happen when you perform in a band and become ‘one with the music’.

Or when you are engaged in a fascinating discussion and you lose track of time.

How to access Flow

So how do you access this amazing mental state and find your flow? The answer is that it requires focusing 100% on what you are doing, building its meaning in your mind.

Using meditation can help you improve your focus in general, while practising CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can teach you to change the way you think about different activities.

Ultimately, though, you need to remind yourself why what you are doing is important and fully engage in the moment.

Only then can you tap into your flow!

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