In order to find Flow, the first step is to first understand what exactly is the actual experience.
Through understanding the nuances of the flow experience, we definie and label it; in doing so we give our mind and body signposts towards finding it. We separate it from those performances that were successful but felt stiff and forced, and also moments of ecstasy that lacked focus and execution.
“I was already on pole, then by half a second and then one second and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my teammate with the same car. And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel. Not only the tunnel under the hotel, but the whole circuit was a tunnel. I was just going and going, more and more and more and more. I was way over the limit, but still able to find even more”
- Aryton Senna, widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time explaining Flow
“When you get in that zone, it’s just a supreme confidence that you know it’s going in. It’s not a matter of if – it’s going in…Everything slows down. You just have supreme confidence. When that happens, you really do not try to focus on what’s going on [around you], because you could lose it in a second…You have to really try to stay in the present, not let anything break that rhythm…You get in the zone and just try to stay here. You don’t think about your surroundings, or what’s going on with the crowd or the team. You’re kind of locked in”.
- Kobe Bryant, 5 time NBA champion and widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time
These are descriptions of Flow experiences from two of the best in their craft but these descriptions are unique to them. In the ether, across all professions, there are thousands of unique descriptions of these treasured moments.
You may have felt something similar while you were listening to music and dancing or just chatting with a friend. The experience is unique and unquestonable when felt deeply. When trying to recreate these moments, however, pinning down exactly how to find flow or a distinct description of the experience can seem elusive and complex.
Many can identify with the feeling of our actions ‘flowing’ as if nothing else existed at that time, yet when trying to consciously grab it, it disappears, and our recalled descriptions become jumbled. The common descriptions include feeling as if ‘time slowed down’, ‘the world around us melted away’, ‘I witnessed an out-of- body experience’, or as Aryton Senna recalls, reached ‘a different dimension’.
The challenge is that these descriptions seem so far removed from our usual experience that we quickly turn a blind eye and move-on before we sound like a fool.
Flow can seem so intangible or baffling, that the natural reaction is to simply breeze over them as we move on to more palpable concepts to grapple with.
As renowned author Joan Didion states, “We forget the things too soon that we thought we would never forget”.
First hand experience is really what it takes for someone to understand the true value and beauty of these moments. Nevertheless, there are countless articles and scientific articles surrounding flow. Much of flow practice is unfortunately hidden away in academic journals, ancient wisdom, or kept close to the heart of elite performers.
A travesty we hope to change.
We want to make the practice of flow and inherent knowledge available to the world, so that everyone can learn how to cultivate it into their life.
If you are interested in finding out more. Please check out our free overview and introduction to flow.
Our excellent team of experts have dedicated their lives to understanding and teaching flow in others. We offer one-to-one coaching as well as evidence-based online courses, updated constantly, and based on cutting edge flow research.
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