Finding your Flow

Brain waves and finding your flow ~ This is a follow up to my blogs on Presence, Brain Waves, and Minding your MIndstuff, –particularly about being in the wave and less in the particle zone.

We have some control over our brain waves, we can at will slow them down — our brain waves effect our body cells and molecules. 

When we slow down our brain waves it encourages the four lobes of our brains to be more coherent — to operate and exchange information better, therefore contributing to the health of our whole body.

This is one example of energy changing matter — the energy of brain waves effects the matter of our body.  “Its the energy that’s making those particle molecules behave (in our body) as they do!”

Here is one example of why communication in our body is important — outside of drama/trauma, speed of communication in our body is still important — when nutrients get in and wastes out in a timely manner our body is healthier. 

For example; you’re driving down the highway and the car in front of you slams on their breaks … as the brake lights register in your brain:  Your brain activates your amygdala which sends a signal of “danger” to your hypothalamus, your hypothalamus then activates your sympathetic nervous system which sends a signal to your adrenals, your adrenals secrete adrenaline into your blood stream –and “wham” you slam on your breaks and avoid a collision.  All this communication happened in a split second.

To go beyond where we are now — being able to help direct energy to a certain point inside our body — to something outside of your body you want to create.  How does your energy flow outside of your body?  It’s the difference between the particle and the wave. 

Which brings me to Being in the wave zone instead of the particle zone.  We understand in the particle zone how work and effort can change one particle at a time to eventually effect the whole    in the wave all particles change instantly and effortlessly.

How do we operate in the wave ~ ?

One of the ways you are in ‘the wave’ is when you are in ‘flow’.

You know that zone where you’re creative, having fun whether its with work or  a hobby and time slips right by — it’s doable for you but slightly challenging, engaging, interesting, fun … Somehow you can be very productive in this zone and accomplish more than usual.

What sounds like this to you?

You can get a feel for the wave when you are in flow because your work feels effortless and time is not a factor.

There are brain waves associated with being in “flow” and we can replicate these brain waves with a little effort and practice making whatever we are doing more effective and productive.

2020 needs a little more flow and awe !

Tumbling Run June, 2007

Being in flow and awe is one of the pillars of well-being in positive psychology.

When we are in flow where we  absorbed by what we are doing, we are more efficient — being in flow gets us closer to being in the wave ~ operating in a wave of synchronicity ~ instead of in the laborious particle zone.

Being in flow naturally makes us fall into a slower brain wave, slower breath rate, better focus, lower heart rate and blood pressure, while reducing stress hormones — and better ability to learn and remember — all this  occurs when we are in flow.  As I mentioned in the brain wave talk, normally when our brain is engaged and actively thinking we are in beta (fast) brain waves which slowly over time age our brain.

Correspondingly when we are in flow we slow down our brain waves  to the alpha or theta brain wave states, where we are more productive — and not only are we more productive we operate very efficiently  — not only do we seem to accomplish more, we do it in a way that we seem to stop or even reverse the aging process in the body!

By finding our flow we can be in our active days and even more productive while regenerating and rebuilding as if we are in our sleep phases 🙂

When we are in the slower brain waves of theta our DNA behaves better and our stem cells replicate, migrate, and adhere more efficiently.  If we can reach the delta brain wave state in our waking movements we would even be able to lengthen our telomeres during times when most of the world is shortening theirs.

Find Flow & Awe in your daily life — so how do we find our flow?

Flow is an experience — it is a state of consciousness as I just explained.  As yogis we are working to be able to shift our consciousness at will.  We have the tools available to help us have flow and awe in our daily life.

Before I get into details, let’s figure out what experiences help you easily fall into your flow.

Do you remember the last time you got so absorbed in something you lost complete track of time? 

What were you doing?

This is the experience we want to recreate daily in our lives.

Flow is a positive emotion that may not last for a long time — it comes with very important and cumulative positive effects — the more flow moments we have in our in our life the higher our positive emotions and satisfaction are, giving more meaning and purpose in our life.  The goal is not to be in flow all day ~ instead you’ll have experiences of flow and connection accumulating throughout your day

It’s like a positive emotion — say joy, we don’t experience joy for two days straight — joy is a positive emotion that comes for minutes at a time and then moves on.  Those minutes add up throughout the course of your day (and lives!) and leave behind positive emotions.  Flow is the same way ~ How many flow experiences do you want in a day? 

Flow and Emotions

When we are in the flow we are actually in a neutral emotional state — when you’re experiencing flow you are not necessarily feeling joy or happiness because you are very absorbed in what you are doing — all your psychic energy is engaged in your activity.  It’s after the flow you experience happiness and joy 🙂

One key feature in finding your flow is to find an activity you enjoy or are passionate about.  It has to have the right mix of enjoyment and challenge of which you have the skills for — a medium to high level of challenge in something that you have a medium to high level of skill in. 

  • If it’s challenging but you don’t have the skills for it frustration will keep you out of the flow.
  • On the other hand, if it’s too easy, boredom will keep you out of the flow.

It’s a balance between being challenged and feeling able to rise up to the challenge 🙂

It’s personal! 

What brings one person into a flow may not bring you into the flow.  Just like we need to figure out the yoga practice for ourselves to be most effective — we also need to figure out what activities will most effectively bring you into your flow.

Can you get in flow for your normal everyday life?  Can you find flow at work?

What I would like to do is help you figure out what kind of circumstances and conditions  help you get into your flow.  Here are some ways:

  • Goals or having something to accomplish.  Having goals helps with flow.  Games seem to put people in flow pretty easily and it’s guessed that it is because games are something enjoyable that have a goal — or something you are trying to accomplish. 
    • A Clear Goal is helpful – when you sit down to play a game like poker you have a clear goal of winning the hand.
  • Even though we are trying to accomplish something — it’s not always about the end result of that accomplishment; for example an artist when in the flow will finish a painting, set it aside and start another.  The experience is more gratifying than the end product for some.
    • This is called an autotelic personality.  Autotelis is a Greek word that means self-creating your goals.  You do it because it’s important to you and brings you satisfaction. 
  • Enjoyment, you must be able to enjoy it.
  • Something that is meaningful to you or you are passionate about.  If you had some spare time you could use any way you wanted — what would you choose to do?
  • Immediate Feedback — We need feedback to know we are on the right track.  In a card game you get immediate feedback — whether you play the card right or not.  Feedback helps us find our flow.
  • Being able to concentrate fully without interruption on what you are trying to accomplish without distractions.  This is where your yoga and meditation help give you the strength of mind to concentrate — however there is more to it than that.  Even if you have the power to concentrate — If you are interrupted by something outside of your control (someone knocking at your door!) you still will not find flow.
    • Focused attention is the quality of mindfulness, however practicing mindfulness will not put you in flow.  Mindfulness naturally happens when you are in flow.  When you are practicing mindfulness you will be distracted from flow.
  • Intrinsic Motivation — It requires an intrinsic motivation to lead to success — if we are doing something for extrinsic motivation it will not put us in flow.
    • Like my learn and thrive section — when I was creating this and paying my website developer and paying people to help me enter content I kept getting questions like, what am going to do with this?  How is it going to create income?  All I could say is I’m not sure yet, I am drawn to doing this.  And I still am!  And when I am working on it I slip into a flow where time just flies by …

In Positive Psychology they have an acronym for promoting well being in your life — this acronym can help you find flow;  its called the PERMA:

PERMA model of well being and being at your best.  We can use these same elements to help find flow.

P = Positive emotions – finding awe in your daily life helps you get in flow.  Awe in the trees, in the birds, in the smell of the air, in amazement at the amazing machine that can take you to work every day … How much awe can you find in your daily life?

E = Engagement – what engages you?

R = Relationships – We can get into flow with other people too.  Finding flow in relationships builds community and friends.

M = Meaning – It’s meaningful to you.

A = Achievement – in that you have the skill available to do it.

We are at our best when we’re in our flow using our skills and abilities to their fullest!

We can find flow in relationships! 🙂  Both personal and work.  This is a good area to find flow in, as it also builds community and friendships. 

  • Do you have a friend that you never have enough time to talk with?  You start to talk and you just flow from one subject to another and seem to have so much more talk about than there is time for … your time together just flies by …
  • Or how about a friend you have not seen for 10 years and you can sit down and pick up where you left off like you have not missed a day together.  This is a sign of getting into the flow with your friend.

However if you are thinking about what question you are going to ask next, or wondering what time it is, or letting your mind wander — even if you are mindful that you are having a thought, you will not find flow.

Flow can happen at work too.  I know as a health coach that some clients the hour goes by like it was 15 minutes … and other clients we are 20 minutes into the session and I think “what are we going to do with the remaining 40?”

Flow can improve our relationships by helping us be present with who we are with.  Periods of Flow gives us more positive experiences and emotions throughout our days.

Pratyahara and Flow

Getting in the flow does involve some of our senses — but not all.  Usually one or two sense is totally absorbed in what you are doing and the rest of your senses withdrawal to send more energy to the sense you are using.  Remember the yogic limb of pratyahara? Which coincides with the theta brain wave state ~ withdrawal of external stimuli puts more energy to our internal work.  Heard stories about the blind man who’s hearing is exquisite to that of a dogs’?  That’s because all the brain energy needed to see is diverted to the ears.

  • When we are in flow we don’t feel pain.  We’ve all had those times when we got so absorbed in what we were doing we forgot about our pain 🙂 This is another side benefit of finding your flow, it reduces pain in your life.

Flow vs. Kairos

I had a question posed to me if being in flow is the same as the Greek concept of Kairos time — Kairos time means an opportune moment, right action at the right time, kind of like being in the right place at the right time — or the right and appropriate time to say or do the right and appropriate thing.

I also read it being compared to a whack-a-mole game; when the mole pops its head out of the hole it’s the right time to whack it!

Carolyn Myss has referred to it as soul time.  

Is it flow though?  I don’t think so — I think if we are in flow it will be easier to find Kairos, but I don’t know that Kairos is flow?  What do you think?

The more frequently we experience flow the more likely we will be happy, experience positive emotions, and have a meaningful life.

Tumbling Run June 2007

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