What Does It Mean to Be in the Flow? When was the last time you felt as if you were lost in an activity? When was the last time it seemed to you that the outside world lost its importance, all your problems disappeared and even the concept of time disappeared? At that moment you were actually in a state of flow! This state of being in flow, which is very familiar to people with successful careers such as doctors, chess players and artists, where concentration is high and productivity is at the highest point, is actually accessible to each of us. All we need to do is to use mindfulness!
What does it mean to be in the flow?
Being in the flow literally means staying in the moment, the ultimate state of focus and being, where attention is not distracted by any external factor, past or future. The only thought passing through the mind is the current situation or the work in front of it.
In the field of positive psychology, the state of flow is when a person participates in the activity in front of him/her with an energetic focus and enjoys the process. It is the ability to immerse oneself in an action to the point of losing the perception of time. It is the state of doing actions that are done consciously and require high concentration without effort. Csíkszentmihályi, one of the leading psychologists in the field, has measured the state of flow in many different areas, such as dancing, chess, mountain climbing, etc., and extracted the main gains that motivate these people.
Benefits of be in the flow
A state of high and prolonged concentration.
The ability to do what needs to be done clearly and directly, without the body and mind thinking about what to do.
The disappearance of feelings and thoughts that can hold one back, such as anxiety, critical inner voice, self-sabotage, fear, shame.
Easier processing of emotions.
Fostering creativity and motivation.
The pleasure that comes from just being in the moment and doing one thing turns into sustainable satisfaction and happiness.
Different forms of be in the flow
When used in everyday life, “be in the flow” is often equated with the state of “inner peace” achieved only during meditation. This is both accurate and incomplete. Contrary to popular belief, there are many different forms and sensations of being in flow. Being in a state of flow can also be achieved while doing a very dynamic job or in a lively atmosphere. The important thing is for everyone to discover when they feel most “in the moment”.
When and what do you most often get out of your mind, relieve your worries, lose your sense of time, and feel in the moment?
Being in the flow in a state of stillness: This form, which can be achieved with regular meditation practice, is often achieved on a cushion with the eyes closed and the body still. Meditation, which at first consists of passive observation of every thought passing through the mind, gradually turns into a practice where the mind gradually becomes silent and the focus remains in the moment.
In this state of calmness, it becomes easier to “flow”.
Being in the flow in movement: Many sports require one’s full attention and focus. Focusing on anything other than the physical movement during that time, for example, worrying (!) about the past or the future, can lead to a loss of focus.
Not only during fast-paced sports, but also meditative forms of movement such as yoga or free dancing, which shift the focus to the body and breathing, keep awareness in the moment.
Being in the flow in creativity: We often use the phrase “losing oneself in a task”, but it is actually being in the flow of creativity. Playing a musical instrument, painting, writing, writing, singing, painting ceramics without realising how much time has passed is actually the fruit of mindfulness. In these moments when there is no external distraction, creativity helps to keep the mind in the moment.
How can we access the flow state using mindfulness?
Sometimes the state of flow comes to us spontaneously and effortlessly, not when we act deliberately and willingly. We find ourselves in a state of flow, especially when we are engaged in an activity or hobby that is perfectly suited to our skills and abilities.
On the other hand, in modern life, with countless distractions and very little time, we cannot expect to be in a state of flow spontaneously. We may need to actively seek this state and incorporate it into our daily lives. The easiest and most practical way to do this is to have a regular mindfulness practice.
The aim of mindfulness practices is to train the mind to focus on a single phenomenon. For example, if we can train the mind to focus only on breathing during meditation, it will make it easier for us to maintain our concentration on a large scale in life and to enjoy even challenging processes.