If you have ever experienced states of effortless excellence, where you simply operated at your best, you were probably in flow.
Flow is a state of self-coherence where your ordinary mental limits drop off, giving you direct access to your abilities.
The difficulty in achieving the state lies with our general dependence on external factors to reach peak states.
Flow is a total state of presence that includes mind and body. And every state we experience is self-generated, we’re just not aware how.
That is why the best way to reach flow is by developing a direct line of communication with ourselves to generate it at the source.
When I founded my research lab, we quickly recognized that there are two types of flow states: externally generated (synthetic) and internally generated (organic).
Synthetic strategies create the state of flow by changing contextual factors. These are useful, but are because of their dependence on intermediaries unreliable in getting results.
Organic strategies generate the state of flow by shifting the internal causes that generate the state. Because organic strategies skip the middleman, they allow us to access the state regardless of context and external circumstances.
Dissolve Your Ego
The biggest barrier in the way of experiencing flow is your ego. Flow is not a magical state but a natural state we prevent ourselves from.
Before we can learn to reach it with intuitive immediacy, we must understand how we are blocking it.
Your ego is a set of unquestioned beliefs about yourself. It is merely a concept you learned to identify with while obeying its assigned parameters.
We believe and obey it because it is unconscious. By becoming aware of the process we learn to drop the identification and its implied limits.
Break Old Momentum
The second step is to interrupt old momentum. Rather than to call it habits, I’ve discovered through my years of coaching and research that looking at old patterns as momentum helps to accelerate their interruption.
When it comes to directly manifesting full body and mind states like flow, we must make sure that we are not trying to move from one opposed state to another.
Before we can learn to trigger flow states directly, we have to neutralize any incompatible momentum and tension with either meditation or deep breathing.
When interviewing top performers from athletes to academics, and artists to businesspeople, one thing was always present. They all remarked that in intense periods of flow, they were completely in tune with themselves and the world. A top negotiator for one of London’s largest management consultancy said: “It’s as if there is no separation between me and myself. Every idea just expresses itself directly, without friction.”
This notion of having no barriers between intention and expression is central to the state of flow. These barriers are created by the virtual limits of our overactive minds. This is why things appear to fall into place when we enter these highly aligned states of performance.
When you enter this level of alignment, you spontaneously drop into the space between intention and expression. Because our fragmentation is due to the words, pictures and concepts we impose on our experience, you can enter into self-alignment simply by clearing your mind of them.
While it is often overlooked, the power of expressing states with direct impact is immensely powerful.
The ability to generate a state with an organic strategy, that is the natural way, allows us to do it at the intersection of thought and action.
By relying only on ourselves, we thus make our ability to reach the state independent from circumstances and radically increase our effectiveness.
The gap between thought and action is pure expression. It’s the usually unconscious impulse that precedes our states. When we reach deep levels of alignment, with our virtual thoughts out of the way, we can gain access to pure expression.
Once this is achieved, we can cultivate the direct line of communication to trigger flow states at their source.
To take advantage of it, we have to first begin by remembering an instance of the state or by producing it using specific meditation techniques that generate flow states.
Then, by distilling the impulse of the flow state, we refine our ability to directly trigger it. And as we become aware of the unconscious impulse that generates the state, our ability to trigger it increases quite naturally.
This is how you can develop your ability to reach flow states organically, independent from contextual factors. And whether you want to use them to enhance your quality of experience, your relationships or your levels of performance, with flow states, only you set the limits.