Flow State can perfect your sport and help you achieve top-level performance in your sports career. But what precisely is going on in the brain during the flow state and how can you trigger it at will?
Long before I became a Flow State Trainer, I was a Martial Artist (always will be) that really strived hard to win in everything. There was one particular practice that resulted in an amazing experience for me. When my opponent stood against me, I didn’t think of him, nor myself, nor our movements. I just reacted, without any thought to the environment we had created. I allowed myself to fully express all the training I had undergone with my coaches. I had no inner critic distracting my movements, I was completed dissolved into the movements. I was at a "one" with my opponent, in the zone. I was in the Flow State at the peak of my performance.
I have explained in my previous article the meaning of flow state and why it’s the key to Top Level Performance for Sports Athletes. Now, let’s find out what’s actually going on in the brain and whether you could potentially recreate the conditions associated with flow at will.
4 States of Flow
Only a few sports athletes enter the flow state because they refuse to go beyond their limits or to push themselves out of a comfort zone. But if you want to have an optimal human experience you must step out of your comfortable situation. There is no exception.
The 4 states of flow are the following:
1. The Struggle Phase. This is the reason why most people never push themselves because struggle does not feel good. They are unwilling to challenge themselves.
2. The Release Phase. When you accept the struggle and take on the challenge, this is where you start to attain the Release Phase. This release triggers a flow state. This is where your brain converts from conscious to subconscious processing.
3. Flow State. You can be in a low-grade flow state or a peak flow state. A low-grade flow state is something like doing a minimal task like a video game or creative writing session, where you have intense focus. On the other hand, a peak flow state is something that mostly happens to extreme sports athletes. This is where the athlete is in the zone, on fire, can do anything, and is insanely productive.
4. Brain Rewiring and Memory Consolidation Phase. This is the clatter following the flow state, where your mind and body are rewiring to a higher processing speed. You remember everything that happened during your peak performance and you see the new possibilities that happened during that time. High-quality sleep and meditation are important here.
The Flow State Neuroscience
What happens to you at a neurochemical level while in a flow state?
Your brain and body release a series of neurochemicals that allow you to focus extensively.
- Norepinephrine - It is the hormone and neurotransmitter most responsible for concentration.
- Dopamine – A neurotransmitter responsible for cognitive alertness.
- Endorphin - Activates the opioid receptor. It makes you feel really good.
- Serotonin - The mood balancer
- Anandamide - The name is taken from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means “bliss, delight“.
- Oxytocin - It is derived from the Greek word "quick birth" and is also called the "love hormone". It promotes trust and security and helps produce flow's fabled afterglow.
Taken together, these neurochemical changes in the brain provide us with performance-enhancing, pleasure-inducing chemicals. Read more about these Neurochemicals in Flow State.
How to Tap into the Flow State using Physical Movements
So with all that in mind, how do you increase dopamine and norepinephrine and focusing intensely on just one subject?
For Sports Athletes this is accomplished through Physical Movements.
Most sports athletes undergo a special Flow State training to unlock the flow state within themselves. To experience intense focus and go beyond their limits.
Of course, this takes practice, and like all things, you can improve your focus by just trying to get into this state on a regular basis. The more you push your boundaries in various fields, the more you grow and the easier it is to jump into a flow-based activity.
Meditation is also a very effective way to practice controlling your attention. Through meditation, you can gain control of your focus and direct it at will. This is meditation through physical movements – precisely what you’re trying to accomplish in your sports career.
Inflow state, we are all capable of performing our top-level performance.
If we train ourselves to reach this state, we will get there with much greater ease, frequency, and intensity. And who doesn’t want that?
You can begin or strengthen your connection to Flow right now, by accessing my Flow State Free Course Package. Flow Tutorials, The 3 Step Formula, Instant-Flow Meditation, and a powerful Flow Triggering Workout. Which I will send to you via email right now (if you want). Pretty cool right? Well, grab your access now:)
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Thanks for reading! And stay in Flow for more.
Kotler, S. (2014, April 01). The Method To Their Madness: Flow And The Final Four. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenkotler/2014/04/01/the-method-to-their-madness-the-secret-science-of-the-final-four/
The Flow State Triggers: How to learn anything, achieve greatness and become the best version of yourself. (2017, February 13). Retrieved October 19, 2017, from http://benaustinblog.com/flow-state-triggers/