Flow. This term pops up often in the space of physical fitness, creative pursuit, productivity and athletic performance. As an athlete, my teammates and I often referred to it as ‘getting in the zone’. In positive psychology we use the term flow to mean a complete and total immersion in the task at hand. Famed psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, coined the term as a way of capturing the experience of single pointed focus and attention that was positively channeled toward the present moment – effort and performance that was energizing and all consuming. Csíkszentmihályi also noted that settling into a sate of flow was one of the key ingredients to a happy life. I like to think of flow, hitting my stride or getting in the zone as both a science and an art from. A purposeful act of aligning the appropriate level of intensity, while maintaining my integrity and authenticity. Yes – massive undertaking – but worth the work.
Outside of the purely physical realm, finding a state of flow has become a real challenge as more and more of our daily lives have become technically mediated. The constant buzz, ding, chirp of our phones, and the endless stream of ‘information’ that fills our feeds has left us in a constant state of distraction - and often, a constant state of comparison. Technology has even invaded our workouts, leaving very few opportunities for real uninterrupted self study (...meditation...)
Perpetual comparison creates a dissonance between a healthy level of intensity and our individual integrity and authenticity. In reality, the state of flow and focus evades us until we find a time to sit with ourselves, tune in, check in and really get to know that inner space in which we live. What is it that keeps us running, always moving, trying to distract from the present moment? What is it about stillness, about our own thoughts and feelings that we are unwilling face and sit with? If we were to live life by design, what might it look like? What if we choose to love a little harder and let go of all the judgments and labels?
What if it is actually totally cool that my Warrior II doesn’t look anything like the girl next to me? Or that there is no one else breaking into yoga on the sidewalk with me...
In order to find that flow – to get into the zone, to reconnect with that vast chamber of happiness and peace, purpose and passion within we must be willing to hunker down in the seat of the self. It is hard to settle in and to fully absorb into a moment. It is a real challenge to truly commit to what is most meaningful to us and how it is we really want to show up – to be seen, heard and understood. It is hard to find a mere moment to withdraw from the many trivial distractions of the material world and to let go of our addiction to comparison, the need to attach, label and rationalize.
But it's time for some real talk. There is no other human that can possibly do you. So why not settle in to who you are – as you are- where you are - and say thank you. Just say thank you. Wake up, look up, breathe deep and say thank you. Decide to do something awesome with the day. Do something kind, loving, compassionate – something only YOU can do. Align your intensity, integrity and authenticity and make no appolgies for the results.
Take your Warrior to the street, sidewalk, canvas, boardroom, meeting or gym. Don't bother concerning yourself with who joins you or judges you. That's for them, not you.
We can find a state of flow and get in the zone at any given moment. It is a choice. A choice to drop in, align intensity, integrity and authenticity and immerse with focus, energy, and passionate devotion to the breath – the present moment and what matters most to you. Meditate, breathe deep, align and find your flow, get in the zone. Simple – but not easy. You are worth the work.