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The Power of Flow

How to Get Into Your Flow Zone

 

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Weekly Lessons in Designing Your Best Life

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Raise your hand if you’re confused about flow. Well…

Have you ever had a day where everything that could possibly go wrong actually goes wrong – and then some? You have an important meeting and of course, your alarm doesn’t go off, you bruise your thigh on the sharp edge of your nightstand, burn your palm on the curling iron, miss your freeway exit, forget your umbrella when it inevitably starts to downpour on your way into the building.

We’ve all had those days.

And luckily, we’ve also had the complete opposite! We’re mysteriously down 3 pounds on the scale, so our deal-closing outfit fits just right – no Spanx-torture necessary, we get an e-mail before breakfast that the refund we’ve been fighting for has already made its way into our bank account, it’s smooth sailing through the green light sequence on our commute and we manage to establish meaningful, witty rapport and say all the right things when our big moment comes.

What determines whether we’re having the perfect day or the day from hell: is it just dumb luck or circumstances out of our control?

It’s both…and…the state of our flow.

What is Flow?

find your flowPsychologists and artists use the term “flow” to describe the state of intense concentration when we are so involved in the present moment of our focus that everything else seems to cease to exist and we tend to produce our best work. It’s like being “in the zone.” The dictionary defines “flow” as moving in a steady, continuous stream.

My definition is a combination of the two:

Flow is the state of being we achieve when our actions are aligned with our truest selves.

We experience flow when we are free from internal conflict and make decisions or behave in a way that furthers our purest intentions, which are clear of the untrue or inaccurate stories we believe from others or the ones we directly tell ourselves.

When we are in flow, each choice we make appears to have a positive consequence. We also will often find that every subsequent choice builds upon the previous one, so that our day is filled with positive surprise after positive surprise – maybe even peppered with flashes of deja vu or the amazing phenomenon of synchronicity.

(Synchronicity is the coincidence of events or thoughts without any apparent causal connection, like when you are humming an obscure song and switch on the radio to hear it playing, when you are thinking of something and it just happens or your strong intuition about something turns out to be right. Carl Jung defined the concept as “meaningful coincidences,” where events having no obvious causal connection are somehow meaningfully related). 

How Do We Get Into Flow?

flow stateFinding our flow state requires a calm, peaceful mind. Achieving flow is impossible if our heads are muddy with swirling thoughts and emotions. And since our goal is to experience what we want to experience – not what we could have or what we should do – we also need to be in touch with our true selves. Ultimately, we are seeking a conflict-free moment, when our heart and mind align and this truth runs through all of our speech and conduct.

Five Ways to Find Your Flow

  1. Reduce your mental noise level. 

    Stop ruminating over your to do list, write it down and free some brain space. Stop worrying about the kids’ activities and set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to sit down and practice the multiplication tables or go outside to shoot hoops with your child. Pick two-three priorities for your day – no more, then write them down and then check them off as you go. If all else fails, meditation or exercise always do the job quickly and effectively. All you need is 15 minutes!

  2. Eliminate the “other” voices. 

    Filter out the voices in your head that tell you what you “should” be doing or thinking right now. Close the door on your mother, your teacher, your significant other, your parenting group, your boss, your friends and whoever else is making you feel that what you want is not right or not good enough. Say to yourself, “I know what I like, I know what I love, I know what I want.”

  3. Feel the skin you’re in. 

    If you didn’t mediate or exercise today, take a moment to sit still and feel the physical sensations in your body, starting from your toes all the way through the top of your scalp. Stretch where you need stretching, massage what needs massaging or just simply feel the carpet, floor, air, clothing or furniture surrounding your body. Enjoy simply being.

  4. Accept your body, your thoughts, and your emotions. 

    Practice loving kindness towards yourself. If you feel sad, acknowledge that you feel sad and then let it go without letting your mind rest or ruminate on the feeling. If you want to kill your boss, acknowledge your anger and then move on. If you feel bloated, acknowledge your discomfort and then be thankful for your body that is working hard for you. Observe everything and then let it all fall away.

  5. Act freely. 

    Knowing that you are the best person to determine what you want to do or say and accepting that you are who you are, go about your day making decisions that honor you. Avoid anything that makes you tense your shoulders or hold your breath. Steer clear of any statements like, “Sure; that’s fine,” when you know you’re simply being polite and not being true to your real desires or needs. Choose what makes you happy – even if you think you don’t deserve it or that you shouldn’t do it because of what someone else will say.

Being in flow is not an all the time, everyday condition. Don’t beat yourself up if you find it hard to experience flow, especially since flow usually only occurs if you’re relaxed into yourself. If it does arise for you – sometimes without you even consciously trying – relish the moment for as long as it lasts and then let it go when it’s gone. Flow is something our minds and bodies can achieve without effort – if we let it.

Let me know below in the comments: How easy or difficult is it for you to find your flow? What do you do to achieve a flow state or is it something that just naturally occurs for you? I’d love to learn what works (or doesn’t) for you!

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Find Your Freedom

Weekly Lessons in Designing Your Best Life

Your Journey Starts Now!
We respect your privacy and never share your information.