Hello! Seiiti Arata. Have you ever been so involved in doing an activity that you have lost track of time? So focused on what you were doing that you forgot to even get up, eat, go to the toilet? This total concentration happens when we enter the state of flow, which is an altered state of consciousness.
What is flow state? What are the advantages of being in flow?
When we are in this state of concentration, body and mind flow in perfect harmony. Everything just flows. This sounds like crazy talk, isn’t it? And really the state of flow is hard to describe. You need to experience to understand how it brings you fullness.
This harmony of body and mind in the state of flow gives the impression that you have super powers, that you can achieve excellent results effortlessly.
The feeling of high motivation, high concentration and high energy is so good that it brings ecstasy. In positive psychology we consider the state of flow to be very close to happiness.
Interviewing musicians, writers, and scientists, he realized that all respondents said their best work came when they entered a kind of total concentration. This altered state of consciousness was ecstatic, for everything around them seemed to simply disappear.
This is a sense of diminishing self-awareness. It’s like muting your inner voice that often complains, worries, distracts you. Flow has been defined as an emotional state in which we dive fully into one activity in such a way that everything else does not even seem to exist.
That’s why I started our conversation by asking you if you have ever been so involved in an activity that you lost track of time. When the flow state happens, your self-awareness diminishes and there seems to be a perfect union between your thoughts and your actions.
When the flow state happens, you have a continuous sense of pleasure during the activity. You do not worry about failure. You do not cling to the end result. You don’t even have to push hard to resist distractions because you have super focusing power.
You need to fulfill seven conditions to flow
The problem is many people report that this super focusing power seems to emerge spontaneously. There are times when you are working and suddenly you enter the flow state. And sometimes you would like or need to flow … but you can’t.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a step-by-step method of intentionally entering the flow state whenever we want?
It is possible. You just have to fulfill these seven essential conditions:
- Involvement in what you are doing in a focused way.
- A feeling of ecstasy, of being out of everyday reality.
- Feeling of clarity, knowing what needs to be done and with what quality.
- Awareness that the activity can be done.
- Feeling of serenity: No worry about ourselves and a feeling of being beyond the boundaries of our ego.
- Loss of time, focusing on the present moment, with the feeling that hours pass like minutes.
- Intrinsic motivation for the journey itself: the end result does not matter as much as the motivation to do the activity.
How are you going to fulfill these seven conditions? There are many activities to do and Arata Academy has a specific course just about that, which is the FOCUS course. [https://arata.se/focuscourse ] For example, about your intrinsic motivation, I suggest you review the lesson on Deep Focus. Do the reframing activities. You need to reframe, give new meaning to the task you are doing.
Examine your desktop now. Are you in an environment that favors your concentration? Or is it an environment that makes it difficult for you to be immersed in your activity? Make the necessary adjustments.
Evaluate your clarity. Do you know exactly what is the next task on your list? Do you know what level of quality you need to achieve? In my case, my to-do list has hundreds of tasks. However, I am very clear what are the three priority tasks that I am going to accomplish today. How do I do it? It is part of my daily ritual to take a few minutes to get organized and know what the three priority tasks of the day are.
To have more serenity, you need to learn to master your mind and get rid of worry. If you are trying to accomplish a task with concentration, you cannot split your focus with concerns about other matters.
Whenever you enter into a flow state, observe what the conditions were for it. What were you doing? What weren’t you doing? Where were you? What motivated your concentration?
Write down your findings. The next time you find yourself in a state of flow, take note again. After a few times, identify the pattern of circumstances that always repeat for you to enter the flow state. By doing so, you will know what works for you.
Flow state happens when challenge and skills are equally high
The state of flow depends on the relationship between the proposed challenge and the person’s ability to handle their challenge.
If the challenge is at a high level and the skills at a low level, the person experiences anxiety or worry.
If the challenge is at a low level and skills at a high level, the person experiences boredom or relaxation.
If there is a balance between challenge and skill at a high level, one experiences the state of flow.
[CHALLENGE, SKILL, ANXIETY, ALERT, CONTROL, RELAXATION, BOREDOM, APATHY, CONCERN]
The ecstasy of total concentration comes when you are at the perfect point balancing challenging activities and activities that you master. That is, if the activity is impossible for you, the flow will not happen. And if the activity is too easy, the flow will not appear either.
If you are feeling anxiety or worry, it probably means that you need to invest more in strengthening your skills and lowering the level of challenge. If you are feeling apathy and boredom, it means that you can and should pursue greater challenges.
Always keep adjusting your skill level and challenges to find the sweet spot that brings you to the flow state. This is why it is important to keep improving: the higher your skills, the higher the challenges you will be able to take with happiness and flow.
At some point in your life you may have experienced the sensation of being in the flow, doing a professional activity or even forgetting about the world around you, living in the present moment, worry-free.
You can enter this state intentionally by looking for activities that are challenging and yet achievable. You just need to keep improving your skills.
Now imagine what you can do with more focus, with more focus on the activities you have to do?
If you want to learn to focus on your activities, I invite you to visit the FOCUS course, a quick training at Arata Academy that you will be able to complete today to be a more focused person. Just go to https://arata.se/focuscourse and get started right now.