Wednesday Wisdom: The Flow State

From the ancient Maya civilization, to artist Jackson Pollock, each experienced this state of being… What is it?

Often described as the psychology of optimal experience, the concept of a “flow state” is rising as a discussion topic. From athletics, to the arts, to coursework, a flow state is identified as the ideal state to be in; it is when one is experiencing their peak performance. It allows one to experience life in a more concentrated way, with the addition of an enhanced state of creativity. Due to one’s ability to let go of mental restrictions that we typically experience, such as judging our work, self vanishes in the flow state and present thoughts are no longer a constant distraction. — But why does this matter?

Some describe the flow as a voice that they hear. Others simply feel that it is their intuition guiding them in the creative process. As with the Maya temples, throughout our history we have witnessed humanity’s greatest feats, questioning how they performed the most unimaginable tasks. It all goes back to the flow. Jackson Pollock, an Abstract Expressionist painter, infamously known for being the first artist to go beyond the canvas with a technique called drip painting. He specifically spoke of the flow and how through drip painting, the process of creating the piece would take control of his ultimate creation. Tapping into the flow through being present, aware, and allowing their minds to take them from idea to idea is a principle that the Mayas and Pollock clearly capitalized on. They both were revolutionaries of their time.

The science exists to prove the benefits of the flow and how multitudes of neurochemicals are affected by this enhanced state of awareness. Author Steven Kotler speaks about the different levels of the flow state, how it relates to the neurotransmitters in our brain, and the neurochemistry of creativity throughout this podcast. Kotler speaks of his experience in a flow state and how it allows one to produce ideas much faster than normal.

To further explore the idea of flow, set aside twenty minutes and listen to this fascinating podcast with guest Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman.

Additionally, a TEDTalk on the subject to supplement the podcast.

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