… the moment draws open as time itself seems to dilate… somehow the very second you’re living in seems to drip by in a languid, lethargic way… you focus, simultaneously, on everything unfolding around you… aware of so much, and thinking so little… suddenly your sense of self seems to simply dissolve as your awareness and your actions merge magically into one synchronized, intuitive, and creative moment…
You’re in the flow. You are about to make the shot, sink the put, break through your long-standing personal record, finesse the sale, finalize the project, create your masterpiece, accomplish any of your lovely life achievements.
Science has begun to seek out the ‘stuff’ that makes these flow moments so special. They’ve studied, tested, and teased out the components in an effort to understand how, when and why they happen.
Their efforts have led to a definition. Flow is ‘an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best,’ which would lead us to believe that an experience of feeling the ‘flow’ would be as different and unique as we are. Not true! Further exploration revealed there are a few qualities that appear in almost all experiences of flow, from increased concentration and improved creativity to non-linear timelines. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (check out his amazing TED talk), who coined the term ‘flow’ in scientific jargon, relates the experience as being one where
Ego falls away. Time Flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.
Probably the most poignant quality to pervade the ‘flow’? Most people speak directly to a loss of sense of self, or self-consciousness! In essence, when you are in the flow you feel an overwhelming sense of oneness and unity. You are co-creator and created all at once. Your performance peaks, your intuition ignites, and your creativity soars.
Why is the Flow so Phenomenal?
In a recent study run in Australia, 40 research subjects were presented with an exceptionally tricky brain teaser—the kind that requires a deep creative insight to solve. No one solved it. But when ‘in the flow’, 23 subjects got the answer right and in record time! In a study run by the Flow Genome Project, the same result was found: people reported being 700% more creative in flow!
As Steven Kotler puts it,
"Flow is a thoroughly transformational experience. A considerable pile of research shows that on the other side of the state, we’re more confident, capable and aware….top executives reported being five times more productive in flow. This means, if you spend Monday in flow, you can actually take the rest of the week off and still get more done that your steady-state peers."
Even better, the people who have the most flow in their lives are the happiest people on Earth.
How Do You Find the Flow?
The Physiology of ‘Oneness’
The idea of experiencing a loss of ego, self, or self-consciousness isn’t necessarily unique to the being in, or feeling, the ‘flow.’ In fact, it is a hallmark quality of other practices like intense athleticism, meditation, prayer, and even deep sleep. What, you may ask, do all of these activities have in common? The answer lies in the pre-frontal cortex.
During these activities our bodies begin to experience a sense of deep calm, shifting sublimely from a fight/flight/freeze sympathetic state where our lizard brain runs the show (read more about how to assuage your lizard brain here) and towards the nourishing parasympathetic neurology. This bathes our higher brain in a proverbial flood of new blood and neuro-chemicals. Our pre-frontal cortex becomes less hyper-active, decreasing our sense of ego and self, while our dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex (the seat of self-constructed limits, doubt, and criticism) stops its hyperactivity entirely. The increased blood flow and decreased tension result in an increased awareness, a sensation of one-ness, and a profound increase in courage and creativity.
The Power of an Entrainment
Network Spinal Analysis, like deep meditation, sleep, and spiritual practices also increases blood flow to the frontal cortex while subtly disengaging the stressed fight/flight/freeze neurology. By finding places of access, resource, and ease, and connecting to them your body can begin to unwind and entrain the tender, tight, and stuck places in your spine. You will begin to bring brand new blood to your higher brain centers, allowing you to achieve a new state of oneness.
We, too, can help you feel your flow!
Its estimated that as little as 5% of the entire population of the world experiences any ‘flow states’! Be one of the few who steps into a dynamic, transformational, creative, and powerful place: come get entrained.
I’ll see you soon.
Written by Dr. Nicole
Want to learn more about Flow? Check out Steven Kotler’s work, and his new book The Rise of Superman.