What is “Flow” or the “Zone?” How do you know when you are in the Zone? Athletes know when they are in the Zone and can express easily what it feels like. Many athletes say they feel unstoppable, incapable of error, invincible, totally focused and aware. When they are in the Zone, everything seems effortless and completely natural.
This natural state of Flow is experienced by people in all walks of life. Doctors, Chefs, Professional Speakers, Salespeople, Homemakers and Writers all know what being in the Zone or Flow feels like. In fact, anyone can experience this lofty state of being at any given moment.
Flow is about focus. Being completely absorbed and fully immersed in the activity at hand. When we are performing at our optimum level of energized focus, we can harness our highest potential and align ourselves with the creative force of the Universe.
When in this state, we are able to screen out distractions, engage our unlimited potential, and perform the miraculous. Our emotions are in our complete control and our body transitions into a harmonious rhythm with the desired outcome. Every movement seems to encapsulate the essence of perfection.
Why then, don’t we operate in the Zone more often? Why do these fleeting moments of God-like perfection appear to be reserved for the few “special” people in life?
Maybe it’s because no one ever taught us how to achieve this state. Some think it is not something that can be taught. They believe only certain individuals can access the Zone.
I believe anyone can access this elusive Flow.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Finding Flow, says “Flow tends to occur when a person faces a clear set of goals that require appropriate responses.” “Almost any activity can produce Flow provided the relevant elements are present, so it is possible to improve the quality of life by making sure that the conditions of Flow are a constant part of everyday life.”
When we find ourselves fully engaged in the process of achieving a worthwhile goal, we can more easily enter the gates of the Zone. When our actions are in alignment with our goals and intentions, and our focus is laser guided, then we may be granted access to this higher state of performance.
Our minds must be clear of clutter and distractions so there are no interruptions to this process. Once our attention is solidly on task and our awareness is open and free, then the mind will guide our body toward completion in the most efficient manner possible.
We can learn to control our attention with this simple exercise.
Find an object, a book, a bottle of wine or soda, a picture, a plant or vase, a cell phone, a piece of fruit or vegetable, or whatever appeals to you that is convenient.
Examine the item for two minutes and notice everything you can about it. Use every ounce of your will to hold your attention on this object. Notice every detail about it and describe it verbally, out loud, until about two minutes has elapsed.
Then release your attention from it and observe your surrounding area for a moment. Place your attention back on the object for another two minutes and continue describing it paying closer attention to more details. Repeat this process several times until you feel that there is nothing left to describe or that you have satisfactorily reclaimed total control of your attention.
You may feel that there is nothing left to describe during your first minute of the first pass but, I assure you, there are many details that will unfold as you continue to focus more and more intently on the item.
You will begin to notice things that you have never seen before as you focus, without distractions, intensely on the object. Your awareness will expand and your mind will pick up on things you would have never noticed before.
The first time I completed this exercise was with a box of tissue. After several rounds of intense focus, I was amazed at the details that were surfacing. I noticed how the box was folded and glued, the curved and straight edges, the size, the colors, the patterns of design, the two plies of the tissues, the small particles within the tissues, the dot matrix of the paint, the plastic holding the tissues in place for dispensing, the space between the solid color of the box and the design printed over it. I began to see the tiniest of details along with dust particles and creases in the box, small scratches and marks. There were minute frays on the edges of the cardboard folds. I examined where the smooth, painted surfaces met the cardboard base. The more I focused, the more I discovered.
I found myself floating in a sea of Flow. All distractions had ceased and my mind was quiet but, extremely alert and energized. I realized how much of life I was missing by not giving my full attention to my activities and projects.
My goals began to display deeper meaning and I discovered that by just shifting and sharpening my focus, I could reach new heights in achievement. The Flow was now within my grasp and I could use it at will to complete my intentions.
Mystics refer to this Flow as “ecstasy” or “bliss.” Find your bliss by engaging your focus on a regular basis in whatever activity you desire.