How to Get into the State of Flow
In the state of flow someone is fully focused in an activity and lost the sense of space and time. In the state of flow is great clarity of thought, one is very relaxed, very productive and it feels effortless.
To be in the flow is a positive experience. Some scientists say that the flow state is a key component of happiness. I do not agree, because the moment you become aware that you are in the flow, you lose the full focus on the activity and in that moment you are actually out of the flow. In this moment you realize how much you have done, how effortless it was, and you feel happy about it.
If you have run a marathon, you might know how it feels to be in the flow. If you are in the flow running is effortless, your breathing is regularly, and you are feeling as if you fly.
Scientists say that you must have the skills to get the activity or the task done and that you need a clear goal to get into the state of flow. I agree that fulfilling the task must be easy, but one does not need a clear goal. It is absolutely enough that you are doing something which is easy for you and you plan to do it for some time. This can be for a sccientist a scientific paper, for a housewife ironing, for a painter painting, or it can be running.
I believe that it is difficult to get into the flow, if you want to. It is rather a state which happens more by chance as that one could force it. The moment you become aware of being in the state of flow, you become aware that it feels great, but this is sidetracking and can get you out of the flow.
At the beginning your attention is focused on your task or an activity. When you get into the state of flow you are relaxed, your breathing is longer and slower. As soon as you are in the flow state, you are not anymore aware of this focused attention. You are not mindful and not mindfully absorbed, as someone wrote. It seems as if you are out of your body and mind and in another dimension. You are somewhere, where anything is easy in a way that the task you are doing is getting done almost by itself. While you are in the flow, you do not lose any energy, which is the case when you are not in the flow doing the same activity.
In the flow state you are in the present moment. There is no past and no future. You do not think what you have already accomplished and not how much you still have to do. You are out of time. In other words, you are in the timeless zone. Not before you are out of the flow state, you realize how much you have accomplished.
The state of flow is kind of a meditational state of mind, because you are in the space and timeless zone.
You might wish to be in the state of flow as often as possible. But it is not a state you can force getting into.
What are the Conditions to Get into the State of Flow
- You must do an activity which can be mental or physical.
- You must be skilled in doing the activity or it must be easily done.
- You need to have plenty of time to do the activity..
- You may not be disturbed.
- It is good if you start in a state of relaxation.
- You shall not want to get into the flow state. You can’t force it.
1. To get into the flow state you must do an activity which can be mental or physical.
It can be any mental or physical activity that you do for at least half an hour or over a longer period of time.
Examples for mental activities: Writing an article or a book, writing a scientific paper, composing music, and more.
Examples for physical activities: Painting the walls of one or more rooms, painting art, running, power walking, swimming, tennis, ironing, and more.
Examples for activities that are mental and physical: Playing music and more.
2. To get into the flow state, you must be skilled in doing the activity or it must be easily done.
• If you know what you will write about, if you write an article or you do some research, you might get into the flow state.
• If you are a scientist and you have the result of some research aside, you might get into the flow state, while you write on a scientific paper.
• If you are a composer, you might get into the flow state while composing a piece of music no matter how long it is.
• While you are painting the walls of one or more rooms, it is the uniform movements that might carry you into the flow state. When you get out of the flow state, you might not remember if and what you have been thinking. The work felt effortless and you have not lost any energy.
• The same happens with other mental or physical activities.
3. To get into the flow state, you need to have plenty of time to do the activity
You mut have plenty of time. You may not be in a hurry. You must be at ease. The activity is easy for you and you have plenty of time. You may not have to look at the watch. You may not have an appointment later on. Scientists say that you need to have a goal in mind. I do not agree with that. You must not have a goal in mind to get into the state of flow. To write on my dissertation took eight months, after I had done quite a bit of research. While I worked on my dissertation, I was in the flow state several times. I never had a specific goal in mind. It is more about being at ease and having enough time..
4. To stay in the flow state, you may not be disturbed
You shall be certain not to be disturbed to get into the flow state. If someone does disturb you unexpectedly while you are in the flow, you are out of it. This disturbance can be that someone comes into the room, a phone call, a signal from your phone or desktop, or an alarm.Make certain that you are not disturbed.
5. It is good if you start in a state of relaxation
If you are in a state of relaxation, you increase the chance to get into flow state. I have already mentioned that you shall be at ease. No hurry, no deadline, no disturbances. Make a few deep and long breaths. If you meditate for a few minutes before you start with your work or any activity, will be helpful to get into the flow state.
6. Do not plan to get into the flow state. You can’t force it
If you have in mind getting into the state of flow, you will not achieve that state. You can prepare yourself, but not force it. Have everything you need handy. Switch off the phone and email notification and make sure that nobody will come and stop the flow. Be relaxed and start with your work or any activity. Have your focus on what you do. Let the rest happen.
With Which Activities Can You Get into the State of Flow
The activity can be mental or physical or a comvination of mental and physical.
• Many types of sports: Running, tennis, car racing, and more
• Music: Playing music with all music instruments or composing music while playing or writing down notes
• Ironing lots of laundry
• Driving longer distances
• Writing an article, preparing a seminar in writing, writing a scientific paper
• Playing games, especially computer games
• Handicrafts with repeating movements, such as painting the walls of rooms
• Painting of art
• And many other activities
Examples of Being in the Flow
A) Being in the flow while doing a physical activity
B) Being in the flow while doing a mental activity
A) Examples of being in the flow while doing a physical activity
I explain one of my experiences of being in the state of flow. I once was running in the Vienna woods. It was very beautiful. The landscape, the fresh air, almost no noise. I was alternately running and walking for more than an hour as I realized that I did not know where I was and how to get back to my car. I have followed marks on trees, but could not find the next mark that would have shown me the way back. I had a slight idea into which direction I had to go to get to the street which would take me back to my car. When I reached it, I saw that I was far away from the parking lot where I had parked my car. I was devastated, because I was tired. I thought it would be best to stop the first car that went into my direction. But it was early in the morning and not the time that anyone would drive through the Vienna woods. I ran aside of the street and got into the flow. The feeling of being in the flow was wonderful. It felt as if I fly above my body which was running. I did not need any energy. All around me was peacefulness. There was some occasional birds singing. Then a police car drove bye. When they saw me they slowed down. I could have easily stopped them and asked them to bring me to my car. But I did not do it. I wanted to continue to appreciate the state of being in the flow. When I reached the parking lot, I was a bit sad that I had to stop. Running, if you are in the flow, is effortless and wonderful. Every since that day I again and again get into the flow while running. I never plan it. It happens or not.
To get in the flow state with a manual activity can happen while ironing, vacuum cleaning, street sweeping, painting, and with many more physical activities.
B) Being in the flow while doing mental work
I have also made the experience of getting into the flow with mental work. While I was writing my doctoral dissertation, I got into the state of flow several times. In those days I knew nothing about the flow state. I did not plan to get into the flow. It has happened. After I got out of the flow I got aware of having been in a very special state of mind.
When I wrote my dissertation, there was no internet and not even a computer. This was forty years ago. I typed it into an electric typewriter. I have typed hundreds of pages two and three times. The work began with research. I wrote about silver. I covered the history of silver, mining of silver, all which is made of silver and world wide trading of silver, physically and over metal and other exchanges. I sent letters to all exchanges that traded metals, to all countries where silver was mined, to all countries where silver plaid a role in commerce and trade. I have received several boxes filled with books and papers. Some of those papers have been in a language which I could not understand. In these cases I had to find ways to get the necessary knowledge.
I had to read thousands of pages. While I read, I have made notes. Then I began to type the first version of my dissertation. It was reading a sentence or a paragraph of my notes, reading in a book or in some papers and then I put this in my own words on paper. I was fully concentrated. My goal was to get on with my work. I did not have a specific goal, such as writing so and so many pages. I just worked. It was by chance that I got into the state of flow.
It seems that I forgot my existence. I was not really aware anymore that I was working. I did not feel hunger or thirst or being tired. I was not aware of how much I had written. I was in the flow. I do not remember when I began to work. At some point I felt hungry and looked at the clock. It was six and there was still daylight. I think it was June, when there is daylight till nine or ten in the night. It was too early for dinner. So I continued to work another hour. The moment I have looked up from my work at the clock,, I got out of the flow. This one more hours of working was not easy. I had to consciously focus my attention to my work.
I then went to the kitchen. Before I began to prepare some dinner, I switched on the radio and they mentioned the time. It was seven in the morning. I have not realized that I have worked at least 18 hours without a break. I can’t even remember that I have switched on light and then off. I did not go get some water. At least I did not recall that I did. I have been fully immersed in my work. Well, I have been fully in the state of flow.
I went back to my desk and had a look at what I had done. I could see that I had worked quite a bit. This was the work of about 18 hours. And it was good work. I did not get tired. I was not aware of myself, while I was in the flow state. There was just and only the books, papers, my notes, my dissertation and the typewriter.
The State of Flow and ou Multi-Dimentionality
I want to mention that we are multi-dimensional beings. There are again and again moments that we become aware of that fact. Have a look at my article about How to Increase Your Intuition. Here we get into contact with a sense which is above our 5 senses. If needed we connect with the higher knowledge. Both these states, the state of flow and inuition, have in common that they function when you are in a relaxed state of mind.
The State of Flow Happens Naturally
It is great being in the flow. You are fully focused on an activity and after hours you have not used up any energy. It would be great to be in the flow state more often. But one can’t force it! Though you can prepare yourself to increase the change to get into the flow state. When you are in the flow, it seems that someone else is tacking over and doing the work. A higher power or a higher consciousness. Or are we slipping into another dimension where anything is effortless?
Look at the nature. Isn’t it in a permanent state of flow? In autumn lots of plants lose their leaves. Winter is time of recovery. In spring all plants sprout anew. The rose bush gets blossoms. They so beautifully open, until the leaves of the blossom falls. In the meantime other blossoms slowly open. It does not look that the rose bush needs or consumes any energy for all he is doing. It all happens naturally. And this is how being in the state of flow is.
How to Get into the State of Flow
Getting into the flow is a skill that can be learned and has to be practiced, someone wrote. Let us assume, he is right. With some preparation and being deeply relaxed, you can surely increase the chance of getting into the flow.
- What you are about to do, must not have a goal, except that you plan to do a certain activity for at least half an hour or longer.
- Have plenty of time to get some of the activity done. You must not have in mind to finish it or do a certain amount of it.
- Prepare all you need to get your work done. For example, if you want to write an article, have your research on hand and open a word file.
- Stop any distraction. Switch off the phone and the email notification. Tell people in the office or in your home not to disturb you. Put a “Do Not Desturb” sign on your door.
- Have a glass with water and maybe a pitcher filled with water on your desk.
- Close your eyes and see yourself doing the work you are to do.
- Imagine the finished task and feel the joy of having it done.
- Meditate for a few minutes.
- Open your eyes, be relaxed and at peace and start with your work.
- Do not await getting in the flow state.
And when you are in the State of Flow, appreciate it. But stay in the calm and relaxed state of mind to not get out of the flow.
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In the state of flow you are focused in an activity and you lost the sense of your body, space and time.
The state of flow is kind of a meditational state of mind, because you are in the space and timeless zone.
It all happens naturally, effortlessly, peacefully. And this is how being in the state of flow is.