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Have you ever felt like you are lost in an activity? Or that you are doing something you love so much that you completely forgot to do regular things like eating or even having a shower?
The theory of flow has existed for a couple of decades, but its true meaning has been around for thousands of years. In fact, it can be argued that it has existed since individuals were able and conscious enough to decide on what they want to focus their attention on.
And even though there is a similarity between becoming conscious and being on the flow, there is one big discrepancy about these two states of mind: when you are conscious you are actively aware of this consciousness, however, when you are in the flow state of mind you are completely engrossed with what you are doing without being aware of it.
If this interests you then continue reading and find out how mindfulness and coming into the flow could help you:
The flow is a term that was first coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975. Of course, that is the modern name that was given, because this concept has dated thousands of years, especially in religions such as Daoism and Buddhism.
For you to have a better understanding, think about the flow in terms of a river. This river has a constant stream that is sometimes really fast and other times is very slow. It depends on the weather, but also on its own strength. This river has some rocks as well, which sometimes can be a little bit difficult to overpass them, but the river’s water always manages its way down.
Just like the river is, the flow is. In addition, according to positive psychology, the flow state is considered as a mental state that is present when an individual is performing certain activities. In other words, you are fully immersed in what you are doing, and you also feel energized and focused, you are completely integrated into what you are doing, and, what’s more, you are also enjoying the whole process in which your activity is being developed.
It’s not like you have to actively do something, instead, your whole being does the following things:
Of course, all of the above feelings can be felt as a whole or individually. If you do feel them one by one then that is great.
However, if you are feeling all of them then you are feeling the experience of coming into the flow.
According to the theory of the flow, three conditions must be met in order to truly be in a flow state of being.
Coming into the flow will also add some benefits in your life. From enjoying even more certain activities to improving your performance or even showing you some new skills you have gained, being in the flow will present a whole new area of your life that you probably didn’t know existed before.
Being in the flow and being mindful are estates of mind that cannot and should not be forced, however, you are definitely encouraged to set up the ideal conditions that will allow you to achieve your goals.
So, how does mindfulness help you with these three conditions for you to experience being in the flow?
There are flow triggers that could perfectly be achieved with mindfulness since they are internally driven you will focus your attention on the present moment, which means you will focus your mind on the activity you are engaged in.
Mindfulness allows you to have an intense concentration which is very beneficial, especially if you are doing a certain task.
Also, because you are being mindful, you also have a clear mind in regards to the goals you would like to achieve when you are in the flow.
When I am in the flow, it’s just a deeply satisfying feeling of getting things done. No past, no future, no worries, no hunger, no thirst, just this satisfaction of accomplishing something.
What’s more, you will lose your self-consciousness when you are mindful and when you are in the flow, so you will eventually have a different awareness of the physical time and your surroundings. Other activities you can do to come into the flow
There are many regular activities that could help you to come into the flow, and you may already love one (or more!) of them.
For example, if you love sports you can do some skiing, surfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, skydiving, rock climbing, racing, and even paintball will help you to embrace the intensity you need in order to come into the flow.
However, if you are more into other types of sports which are somehow more relaxed and focus on different aspects, then you can try meditation, yoga, pilates, swimming, or even slackline.
And if you don’t really feel like doing any of the above, you could try painting, writing, or even photographing.
In addition, you could also do activities that are slower, such as gardening, playing a musical instrument, or hiking.
You could try to control your breathing and see how your thoughts -if any- wander around.
Of course, both mindfulness and being in the flow have some fighting agents which are apathy, anxiety, resentfulness, and even boredom.
For example, when you are in a state of apathy it is likely that the challenges that are presented to you are below your skill levels. This is why it’s important to find an activity you love and that you know you are good at it and where you can truly use all you have in order to produce something incredible.
However, mindfulness works in a different way as well, because when you are being mindful you have a real shock when you find out that you are not your academic or personal accomplishments. And you are definitely not your work. And that’s amazing to remember especially when you are feeling at an all-time low or when you cannot stay in the flow.
So, what if for some reason you are taken away from all of those educational accomplishments? What would still remain within yourself? Exactly! That’s where you need to head towards and that is where mindfulness will take you.
And what many people don’t realize is that you also need those challenges in order to evolve, otherwise you may get ‘stuck’ in the same area.
Challenges will also allow you to see what you may need to overcome and what you have to work on, especially when you are being mindful and you would love to achieve a sense of coming into the flow.
We are all different individuals and this is also reflected in how we experience our own ‘coming into the flow’ activities.
Some of us may experience the flow when we are doing certain sports, others will experience it when we are dancing and some others will experience it when they are doing something creative.
On the other hand, mindfulness also has a positive effect on your immune system, which, in turn, will have a positive effect on your emotions, aggression or compassion and even behavioral problems.
So you are also prioritizing how you feel deep inside when you are being mindful, and this has a profound impact when you are coming into the flow, because how you feel inside will be reflected on how you feel and what you do in the outside.
When you end up achieving the flow you will likely also end up achieving mindfulness. And even though you shouldn’t be doing those things ‘just for the sake of it’ it is important to know and to be aware of the capabilities you have, both internally and externally.