Have you ever experienced flow state?

flow state

Anyone dipping their toes in the waters of mindfulness and meditation has probably heard about the term ‘flow state’. But what is that, exactly? What happens when you get into a flow state? And how can you get there?

What is a flow state?

Flow state can be described as a sense of fluidity between mind and body. It is the feeling you get when, in optimal circumstances, you are deeply focused on what you are doing at that moment – to the point where you are completely absorbed by it. Your senses become heightened and you may lose your awareness of time. This hyper focus is often accompanied by a sense of euphoria. Any distractions (external ones, but also internal ones like stress, fatigue, hunger and aches) melt away. It is more than just being really focused; you could say it is an active meditation. Some describe this as being ‘in the zone’.

What do you feel during flow state?

While the experience may be different for everyone, flow state is generally recognized by the following:

  • A deep focus. You’re able to fully concentrate on whatever it is that you’re doing, without getting distracted.
  • A sense of clarity. Your mind and body seem to know exactly what they need to do.
  • The elimination of obstacles. While being in the zone, any thoughts, feelings and sensations that would normally limit or distract you, seem to temporarily fade away.
  • Euphoria. The hyper focus is accompanied by a temporary high and feelings of euphoria, contentment and happiness.

How do you get into a state of flow?

To get into a state of flow, you need to create the ideal conditions. It usually happens when you’re doing something that you’re really passionate about. Depending on your personality and your interests, this could be anything; working, writing, creating art, making music, dancing or exercising.

Also, this mental state is more common during engaging activities; your physical or mental abilities need to be challenged to a certain extent, resulting in a willing effort to accomplish something. At the same time, it shouldn’t be so difficult that you get frustrated because you can’t pull it off. It is more likely to occur when you’re single tasking, which makes sense because multitasking requires you to constantly shift your focus. Furthermore, your circumstances and surroundings need to enable you to focus on your task or activity.

Final thoughts

Anyone can achieve flow state, provided that you create the ideal circumstances. If you don’t know where to start, try these easy breathing techniques for beginners to practice focus. Chances are that once you have your focus, the rest will follow.

Observation meditation: Separating the experience into different parts

Observation meditation, observatie meditatie

There are many ways to meditate. In most of our blogposts, we’re focusing on concentration meditation; usually concentrating on the breath. But concentration meditation is just one way to meditate. And while for many people it is the form of meditating that they start with (check out these 5 meditation techniques for beginners), it doesn’t hurt to try and explore some different forms. There is also observation meditation, for example. Recently, I was talking to a guy who has been meditating for years and he offered some very valuable insights about this form of meditation.

Observation meditation and separating the experience

I have massive ADD so concentrating is always a challenge for me. My friend explained how the ability to focus is like training a muscle; the more often you do it, the better you get at it. And the easier it becomes. There are various ways to practice this, and concentration meditation is just one way. When we started talking about other forms of meditation, he mentioned something that really struck me. 

He suggested to focus on the moment, and then try to separate the experience into different parts.

Let’s say you’re taking a walk through the woods. Once you feel relaxed, simply observe the present moment. While you’re observing, you’re basically going to ‘organize’ what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and thinking. A moment of living in the present consists of a wide range of elements that come together in your personal experience; by separating them you may get a better sense of all the different aspects of that moment. Start with what you see. The forest floor, the trees, the leaves, the sky. Then observe the auditory stimuli. Your own footsteps, the birds, the wind, the rustling leaves. Now, what do you smell? And what do you taste? After observing the sensory stimuli, check in on your physical state. How do you feel? And finally, there is your emotional/mental state. What are you thinking? If there any thoughts arising that have nothing to do with your present moment, that’s totally okay. Simply observe the fact that those thoughts are there, and then come back to the present. It can help to mentally ‘point out’ everything you’re observing.

If it feels overwhelming, you can try and remove the visual stimuli by simply closing your eyes (only recommended when you’re sitting). If you have some noise cancelling headphones, you can even eliminate auditory stimuli and see how that feels. If you like a challenge, try doing this when you’re in the company of other people. 

Final thoughts

You know how they say that goals are easier to achieve when you break them up into multiple smaller goals? I think it’s the same with observation meditation. There can be so many stimuli in a single moment – separating them may help to stay in the present longer, and make the experience as a whole easier to process.