In neuroscience, the concept of ‘flow’ is currently all the rage.
Flow describes a specific mental state that allows us to focus intensely on a single task or subject. In this state, time will actually appear to dilate and slow around us, giving us more time to react and improving our performance significantly. At the same time, we become faster at solving problems and reacting and we can completely block out all distracting thoughts and temptations.
So, what is this ‘flow’ exactly and how does it come about?
Flow is a certain mental state in much the same way that the ‘fight or flight’ puts us into a particular state of mind. In fact, a flow state is very similar to the fight or flight response with the primary difference being that fight or flight makes us more panicked and distracted whereas flow is slightly calmer, alert and more positive.
Both states though are triggered by a sense of danger or importance.
When the body detects that it is in danger, or working toward a highly important goal, then it will produce chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine and cortisol. These increase the heart rate, contract the muscles and generally make us more highly alert and ready for action.
The difference is that a flow state also produces serotonin (the feel good hormone) and anandamide a fatty acid neurotransmitter. The name is taken from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means “joy, bliss, delight”.
This makes the sensation far more euphoric and also makes us more creatively inclined. In other words: this is danger/importance with enjoyment and excitement.
Common ‘triggers’ of flow states include surfing, snowboarding and sports. This is any moment when you have lost track of time and what you are and instead begun to move purely through space without distraction.
This can also happen when you’re performing in a band and you become ‘one with the music’. Or when you’re engaged in fascinating discussion and you lose all track of time.
Both hypnosis and flow embody the notion of opening up a channel with the subconscious whilst giving little importance to the conscious interference. Both make the notion of time seem irrelevant, with many people reporting time either slowing down or going by in a flash. Both states help us stay in the now, the present and be consumed in nothing but the moment.
The body is fully capable during both flow and hypnosis, in fact more so, we do things that we would never deem possible when the conscious brain is in charge. In both flow and hypnosis the noise of the conscious brain and ego seem to be very small or non-existent, and we are back to access parts of our mind, body or performances in seconds that can otherwise take years when in control of the conscious. With so much in common it is a wonder why so few performers and athletes have realised the power of hypnosis.
How to Access Flow
So how do you access this incredible mental state and find your flow?
The answer is that it requires you to focus 100% on what you’re doing by building up its importance in your mind. Using hypnosis can help you to improve your focus.
Ultimately though, you have to remind yourself why what you’re doing is important and to fully engage in that moment. Only then can you tap into your flow!
Tap into your flow
So it would make sense to see hypnosis and trance states as a possible entry point or method for helping us achieve flow. Ultimately what we want is to design our own self hypnotic flow sequence with a professional that we shorten over time, to a short enough practice that we can use during competition or our performances.
We can start practicing right now if we want. There are many different states of hypnosis, trance and flow, which we can experience at different depths. The more we practice at any depth, the more the mind and body get used to feeling its connection to each other without the interference of the conscious mind, and the higher the chance we have for flow.
Tap into your flow for more information please get in touch.
Aaron John Ellis