A tutor recently asked: How do you hold yourself in the flow state?
My understanding of ‘flow’ is the experience of synchronicity and serendipity; that wonderful feeling of peace and joy that accompanies being in the right place at the right time to receive unexpected and exciting benefits.
I’ve compiled the class’s response to this question below with the aim to encourage you, dear reader, to reflect on your own understanding of flow.
“For me it’s about not trying to stay in flow. I don’t really understand the concept of holding yourself in flow because I feel that’s counterintuitive, an oxymoron of sorts. Flow is effortless. Holding myself in flow sounds like work.”
So, the question changed to something along the lines of:
What qualities and strategies support us in being in flow?
1. Heart-made decisions
“My experience of this comes from being driven by heart-made decisions and feelings of what is right to do rather than head-made decisions, what I should or need to do. For me, it’s all about doing what is right by YOUR heart, not your head or anyone else’s. It’s about enjoying what you do and when you’re not doing what is right, knowing when it’s a temporary stepping stone and when it’s time to make a change.”
“I love the idea of doing what is right by your heart and makes me wonder if I fully listen to my heart!!! Today I listened to my body and came home early from work, and took tomorrow off, and can already feel myself feeling better, more relaxed and connected with self, perhaps flow is about listening to self and the silence of the quiet mind”
“I’ve realised I need to acknowledge how I feel, ask myself what I need and honour those needs ie. do I need some time out? Some time with family? A rest…?”
2. Permission to be out of flow
“It’s also about recognising that we’ll have days, even weeks, when we don’t feel in flow – and that’s ok. Knowing that we fluctuate and trusting that you will return to a state of flow makes the waiting time easier and, I believe, makes the return to flow much faster.”
“Letting ourselves to be out of flow allows it to pass and flow back, instead of pushing to create it or attempting to make it happen. This way we flow back into flow!”
“When things in our personal life are impacting the flow, a way of dealing with that is to permit ourselves to take time out. But part of that can also be to have a rest from the personal things and be permitted to take time out from those too. Often when they are personal things we feel selfish just trying to forget those for a while, I know I do.”
“…And when things don’t work, learn to let it go and not hold it against yourself. It’s so easy to self-criticise and I think that is the most damaging thing you can do for flow – it will make flow disappear in an instant. Self-compassion is the way back to flow.”
3. Intentions without attachment
“I find intentions without attachment leads to flow. Flow for me happens most when I’m not trying or expecting anything. I’ll have a thought and somehow, it manifests.
I have a number of beautiful examples, the most recent being related to travel when earlier this year I thought “I’d love to explore the UK more”. Within a few months, I was given 3 opportunities to explore the UK. I began talking to friends who had done a lot of travelling and thought “I’d like to travel more”. A couple of days ago I saw a plane and thought “I’d like to go on a plane”. This morning I received a message from a friend who works for BA “Quick! A trip to Venice for 3 days, business class and a 4* hotel, only £200. You in?” Needless to say, here I come Venice!”
“I made a decision to stay in momentum and flow, even if it was a scaled back version. I applied this to particular areas of my life by doing tiny activities each day that would support me in reaching my goal.”
4. Acknowledging synchronicity
“For me it’s about recognising synchronicities and manifestations, and the more you look, the more you’ll find. The more you find, the more supported you feel, the more in flow you are, and the more you’ll continue staying in flow. Someone once told me that synchronicity is the sign that you’re on the right path. I don’t think I actively give gratitude when I experience synchronicity or serendipity, but maybe the elation I feel (because I always get super excited) encourages more positive experiences. The more I experience flow, therefore, the happier I am, the more relaxed I am, and the more I experience flow….”
5. Your focus and your environment
“By staying focused on the task, I am less likely to be distracted by personal stuff. When I was struggling to focus on work, I invited a colleague to come over and work with me for the day.”
“Equally though distractions can be physical ones. I know for instance that if I am using my phone rather than a computer, then I am easily distracted by e.g. a quick glance at facebook, or twitter, or email, or incoming text messages. Whereas if I use the laptop then the phone gets put to one side. It has headphones plugged into it so I don’t get any of the distractions of notifications; so it’s often all about removing the distractions or even consciously minimising them – choosing the laptop rather than the phone/iPad because then I’m not tempted to write a quick message or to check if someone has responded to my last email or noticing that I have a notification from BBC news or that someone just followed me on twitter.”
Ultimately, the river will reach the sea
“I think that it is always worth remembering that even the straightest rivers don’t flow unimpeded to their destination, that there are always things which make the flow quicker, or slower, or choppier, be those the rocks under the surface or the overhanging branches on the river bank or the waterfalls or even the depth of the water. But that ultimately the river will reach the sea. Our human flow is not unlike the river, but the difference is that we have the ability to recognise the things which change the flow and to potentially choose to be impacted by those things. But ultimately we should be able to reach our destination.”