Flow and being in the zone

We’ve all experienced it – being ‘in the zone’… What an incredible feeling it is. Today, I thought I would clarify a few things about the ‘zone’ or as experts call it, the concept of ‘flow‘ which I think was coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, author of the book Flow. What you might not know is that flow is achieved when you experience a balance between external demands and internal skills.

Flow - Being In The Zone

Flow - Being In The Zone

When this relationship is 1:1 between difficulty and ability, the door opens and you can step into the flow. Because this is a balancing act, it’s a fleeting and rare experience. When the balance tilts with external challenges surpassing aptitude, anxiety is usually the result and conversely, when the balance shifts to your talent outpacing the demands made of you, you get bored, even sloppy.

You know you’re in the zone or flow when:

  • Your movement is effortless.
  • You lose your sense of self (I’ll talk about self in more detail in a future blog post).
  • Time transforms – slows down mirculously, magically, sometimes standing still if only momentarily – it seems like forever.
  • Clarity of vision is razor-sharp, so much so that you might even have the sensation of being able to see ‘everything’.
  • In some cases, objects will be distorted.
  • Your thoughts converge with crystal clear clarity, focus and attention

Don’t worry if you’re constantly chasing it – ALL athletes chase it, in fact it’s one of the greatest intrinsic motivators, so use it, leverage it as much as you can.

So what can you learn from this?

I’ll tell you what I learned from it – getting the balance right means playing or training at the exactly right pace. Not trying too hard or too little. Before understanding the balance aspect of flow, I wasn’t sure what I was trying to DO to experience it. Now I can create more instances where it can occur – naturally.

The one thing everyone agrees about is that you can’t force it – the minute you do, it’s gone.

All you want to do is create MORE INSTANCES and OPPORTUNITIES for it to occur.

As you do that, enjoy it, because as we all know, it’s existence is short and soooo sweet!

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