By Wendy Vance
As I write this blog post, I am concentrating on the task. I am energized and fully immersed. I am in Flow.
You may wonder, what is flow? Flow is a state of intense absorption. It is that condition people refer to when they find themselves “in the zone.”
You know you are in Flow when you feel excited, focused and fully involved. You are enjoying the process of the activity. You are fully present. In psychological terms we call flow,
“A state that accompanies highly engaging activities.”
If you do not enjoy it and you are not challenged by it, you are not in the condition of flow.
What can flow look like in everyday life? Here is a short list of possible flow activities:
Flow activities are correlated with life satisfaction, achievement, better health and creativity. Those are the positive experiences that we want more of in our lives!
How can you get into the “zone” and get the benefits of flow?
Mindfulness and reflection are needed to determine the how of a flow state. Begin to ask yourself questions.
What activities bring you flow?
As you mindfully think about what brings you into flow, try to also reflect on the mechanisms of flow that I have listed below. Does your mental list of activities incorporate flow? If yes, great!
If not, how can you increase the amount of flow in your life? What activities can you add, or will you attempt to try to bring mindful awareness to in your life?
Some characteristics in a flow activity are:
- The task is challenging and requires skill.
- It requires concentration.
- There are goals.
- We get immediate (and unambiguous) feedback.
- There is a sense of control.
- There is a balance between skill and challenge.
- There is mental focus or strenuous exercise involved.
- There is intrinsic motivation (you get a reward that is satisfying from within)
Flow, once you find it, feels very productive. When you find an activity that provides you with the practice of a flow state, you will experience many physical and emotional benefits such as…
Your sense of self vanishes.
Neutral emotions occur.
Decrease in pain symptoms.
Natural, productive high
As the saying goes… “You become one with the music.”
These benefits are within reach. Use reflection to find your unique flow state.
Once you find a flow activity, enjoy it! Eventually, you will need to make changes as you become more skilled. “As we master new skills, our experience of flow will diminish because the task at hand is no longer as stimulating and demanding. Thus, to maintain flow, we continually have to test ourselves in ever more challenging activities.” (Lyubomirsky, 2007). We can use mindfulness to become aware of our flow states. Reflecting on what we do and how we do it will allow us to be on alert for when our flow is decreasing. When we notice that flow is not present anymore, we can mindfully find a way to increase our challenges and take on more difficult tasks. What does that look like? Think of the person who has worked hard to learn how to cook several excellent dishes. However, as time goes on, the challenge and excitement of cooking these same meals repeatedly has decreased. This cook will need to find and try new recipes that engage their flow state again.
When you become mindfully aware of the different parts of your life, remember that flow is possible. It might mean that you need to increase the challenge by learning a new technique or maybe you need to take a class to increase your skill level at work.
To engage with my flow state, I am going to spend more time appreciating nature in the practice of outdoor meditation.
Where and how do you Flow?
Wendy Vance, M.S is an educator, mentor, coach and soon to be positive psychology practitioner. She teaches success strategies and professional exploration topics at Montgomery County Community College in PA and University of Maryland Global Campus. Wendy is passionate about striving to live a flourishing life and sharing positivity in the world. Connect with her on mypositivecoaching.com and LinkedIn.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
2 thoughts on “Using Mindfulness to Find Your Flow”
In peace and love, is where I goal to flow, I got myself to remind me of LOVE (Beverly, 1977, 1:17) and my memory and pure intentions to bring me PEACE… I flow in all things I do through the anointing that strengthen me… I find myself most flowful accompanied by sweet and earthy aromas. I find myself lost of flow in forced situations but I also find another range of flow in these challenging situations that chisels my fear, complacent and doubtful innerGs (energies) from my bodily temple and mind to make me whole again in a new divine form. I give thanks for the flow and no so flow… Beautiful thoughts and well articulated, Ms. Wendy. THANK YOU!
Sincerely and Genuinely in Flow,
Candace L. Owens
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Thank you for your comment! What a wonderful description you have written of flow and non-flow! Yes, we can be grateful for all of our experiences no matter what they bring! Being mindful will open us up to our emotions in a beautiful way.