There has been a lot of publicity on the subject of flow in recent years but many of you may not be familiar with this concept. What does it mean to be in the flow? This can be best explained using an analogy that most of you will be familiar with.
Have you ever heard of being in the zone? This is a phrase which is usually used to describe an athlete who is operating at the peak of their game. Those who watch professional sports have seen incredible performances by such famous athletes like Tom Brady and LeBron James.
It seems like they can effortlessly enter that space where every move they make on the field or the court is perfect and effortless. They become unstoppable and time seems to stand still both for the observer and for the athlete who is being observed. They are essentially in the flow.
We watch professional athletes perform incredible feats but are we are all capable of entering this state of flow? If so, then how do we do it?
I’m sure all of you can remember a time in your life when you were in deep focus and concentration trying to complete a task which became effortless and you had no awareness of the time passing by. If such an incident does not come to mind then think back over your past.
It may have been while you were competing in a sport, trying to meet a work deadline or enjoying your favourite hobby. Whatever the situation, most of us have had such experiences. There are some characteristic features of these states that are common across the board.
The first is that the individual in question does not have to think. Whatever they are trying to accomplish occurs in the absence of any conscious thought about what they are doing.
The second is that the final outcome of what they are trying to accomplish is not the focus and does not matter. All that matters is what they are doing right now to get to their goal.
The third is that all distractions from the past and future have dropped away and the sole focus becomes this very moment to the point where time appears to stand still.
So the question then becomes how do we enter this state of flow? This will be the focus of the next several blog posts so stay tuned. In the meantime, try to remember a time when you were in the zone or in the flow and write down everything you can about what you were doing, what you were thinking, how you were feeling and what helped you reach the outcome you were seeking.
Nauman Naeem MD