Have you ever really got into the rhythm of things? Remember how awesome it felt? Finding your personal flow can help you in your fitness journey greatly, as it allows you to concentrate well through deep breaths, to feel confident and in control, as well as to be less self-conscious and tired. According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a flow state is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel and perform our best. This is likened to being what most colloquially term as “in the zone”- a moment of total absorption where the self vanishes, time flies, and performance skyrockets. Here are some ways to find your flow in fitness:
Flow from external circumstances
While flow seems to be something that unfolds organically, the fact is that it can be induced. Take an avid marathon runner for instance. After enduring tough training on a regular basis, the runner starts to form impressions of the situation and of yourself. Over time, your mind will be trained to let go and allow your body to take control of the physical labour. The famous “runner’s high” is a good example of a physical manifestation of flow.
Flow from a mentor
A strong trigger for flow can stem from a person, be it your family, friends, boss, fitness instructor, and even your enemy. All these people have one thing in common, which is the ability or authority to push you to your limit and trigger your flow state. They can rid you of your inertia and pull you out of your comfort zone to achieve challenging goals. When trying to fulfil such expectations, be it to avoid letting the person down or to fulfil your duties, you may be compelled to work hard, inadvertently placing yourself in a flow state. Similarly, the urgings of a coach can plunge you into a state of mind where the impossible suddenly becomes possible.
Flow from within
Intrinsic factors can just as easily enable flow states as extrinsic ones. Self-discipline, strong focus, and perhaps a small stroke of luck can help you to enhance your mental state. Being aware and conscious of how your mind and body interconnects and interacts can help you to invoke flow, even on a conscious level. You often see this in trained elite athletes, but this does not mean that it’s beyond the grasp of regular individuals. Committing wholeheartedly to any endeavour allows you to tune out distractions, honing your focus and making it as keen as the sharpest of blades.
All in all, the flow state is most definitely reachable. You simply need to be doing something that you love, and which is capable of keeping you on your toes. If the activity fails to be challenging enough, you won’t feel a need to invest as much effort. Either up the ante on your favourite exercises or try something new – you’ll be amazed at where the flow can take you!