Often we hear the phrase going with the flow and being in flow, both with very different meanings.
Going WITH the flow is a conscious decision to let go of decisions or judgements and to accept what presents itself. Perhaps to go along with what others have decided or maybe to wait and see what comes along in terms of opportunities.
There may be an ultimate destiny or goal but how we arrive at it we don’t know in advance as we go with the flow.
Similarly the flow of water, although it knows it is heading to the sea, can take time to meander, coming across obstacles, deciding in the present time which way to flow onwards.
Being IN flow however is very different and an integral aspect of our health and wellbeing.
When we are in a place of flow, there is no past or future just the present. We become immersed in whatever we are doing with no distractions. It is when we lose all sense of time because we are totally engaged with whatever we are doing.
Csikszentmihalyi describes in his book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”.
How often do we manage to come into a state of flow? We might start with the intention of focusing on an activity then distractions come at us from all angles! The mobile rings, children need your attention, texts start to ping, you suddenly remember that you need to add to your shopping list.
It is quite an effort to get into and remain in a state of flow. When we finish something that has really engaged us, when we have not looked at the time, when we had just one single focus; that is when we let go of worry, create a sense of achievement and contentment.
Our ability to concentrate improves, we ignite our creativity, we make fewer mistakes and we decrease our stress levels.
What you do to create being in flow is an individual choice:-
Playing or learning to play an instrument
Playing board games
Reading a book etc etc
Concentrating on just one thing at a time will help to kick start being in a state of flow, along with creating a distraction free environment.
Like most things which are new it can take practice but we can all start somewhere by setting aside time in a distraction free space to focus on an activity that we enjoy.