What is Flow? – Flow is a mental state where one becomes extremely absorbed and involved in an activity, it is the mental merging of awareness and action. When you experience a state of flow your brain enters a specific “zone” of brainwaves. The zone includes both alpha and theta brain waves (seen on an EEG in a Psychologist or Neurologists office). These brain waves are both the cause and the result of staying calm and focused.
Athletes and musicians often describe being in the “zone” at times of peak performance, in which they experience not only strong attention capabilities, but also a lapse in their sense of time passing as well as a surge of positive, calming energy.
Some of the characteristics of being in a Flow state include:
-a feeling of a “Natural high” that includes calmness and peace, spontaneous joy
– being able to avoid giving into meaningless distractions and emotional reactions
-a sense that challenges are targets to problem solve rather than obstacles that shut you down
-a self reinforcing feeling that encourages motivation and consistency for positive behaviors
-boundless sense of time
Using the Power of Flow Meditation to enhance your life
The “Flow Zone” is not just for athletes or artists it can be used by everyone to enhance your daily lives! You can use Flow in work, school and relationships. When you have flow you are able to move from action to action without getting being overly negative or stressed. You don’t sweat the small stuff. You stay focused on your present and what you can control.
Why does being in Flow make us happier and more successful?
A bi-product of being in a flow state of mind is to feel calm and in control. Imagine, similar to an athlete who uses the flow zone to stay focused on their play goals, to attend to their game strategy and to expect challenges from opposing team mates, you too are prepared and accept challenges in a way that lets you stay focused on what you need to do for you.
Being in the zone is self reinforcing to your brain’s chemistry, so the more often you are in a state of flow, the easier it is for you to access this state when you need it. A bi-product of this self-reinforcing trait of the flow state is that it forces you to be better by constantly pushing your limits and broadening your skills.
How do we achieve flow?
Since being in the flow zone is automatically reinforcing to your brain’s chemistry as well as your psychological state of mind and the behaviors that follow, the best way to achieve flow is to practice specific mind-body exercises that encourage those same thought waves.
“You can enter a mental state of flow by engaging in certain breathing, visualization and mediation. It’s the combined brained activity of attention and calmness over a challenging stimulus that puts the person in a state of flow. “
In my flow program I work with clients to develop personal visualizations that create positive outcomes in contrast to your personal fears. Fear is what limits us from achieving a state of flow in our lives. When your brain is in a flow state it sees the positive and neutral information more clearly and keep potential problems within reasonable limits so that you can cope emotionally or problem solve is necessary. When you lose the flow you become overwhelmed, distracted or bored.
What to do? Here’s a simple visualization, mediation and breathing exercise
Lie face up on the floor. Close your eyes 9/10 of the way. Start to scan your body for tension. Begin to attend to each of the following body part individually for 20-30 seconds (feet, calves, thighs, arms, hands, abdominal area, chest, shoulders, forehead, jaw). On the inhale notice that body part ; on your exhale tell that part of the body to relax and as you notice it relaxing. Progress through your body
Then start to become mindful of your breath as you allow your breathing to deepen challenge your mind to now stay focus on repeating silently to yourself a mantra that reflects a personal positive belief you have about yourself. “I can …” “I am..” as you visualize yourself doing an action that exemplifies this belief. When you become distracted challenge your self to stay on your visual and affirmation.
Want more help in practicing getting into your zone, then schedule a private or attend a group flow mediation class in NYC New York or South Hampton, Hampton NY (private or group) with Dr. Jayme Albin Email or call us for information 212-631-11333 or Info@cbt-newyork.com
Dr. Jayme Albin is a Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Instructor. She has appeared on National television as an expert on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Yoga Therapy including Dr. Oz, Montel Williams and film documentaries. She wrote the “The Official Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” by Penguin House 2014 and “Treating Fear of Flying using Virtual reality and biofeedback” 2011.
For more information visit us at cbt-newyork.com