The Flow State

The Flow State

The goal of anyone who has ever pursued an outlet of expression, whatever format you may choose, is to achieve that state of mind and ability that’s often referred to as the “flow state.” This is the state where when you are in the middle of work, you feel like things are effortless and that you have a complete sense of control.

We all long to be able to maintain that state of flow as we develop our skills, and in our minds, we feel like once we have achieved a certain level of proficiency, that the flow state will be the normal level of expectation.

Have you ever found yourself experiencing a moment where you are inspired and it seems like everything that you attempt is so simple and expressive that you almost feel a sense of detachment from being “in the zone.” It’s inspiring and you find yourself pushing your levels because you can pull off things that usually seem to be out of your reach.

When you have these experiences, you get a sense that you have reached the next plateau in your development and you walk away confident that you can maintain this state. You are so inspired by what you have felt and accomplished that you can’t wait to experience this again.

Do you ever find that after a performance in the flow state, that the next one never seems to reach the same level of control. We walk in confident and what happens is that we have a tendency of trying to recreate the previous performance and it often falls flat.

We try to figure out why it doesn’t feel the same, which can frustrate us. We can’t understand why things don’t have the same sense of control that it had before and we end up trying too hard.

The whole value of the experience of the “flow state” is that we are able to let go of our preconceived ideas, express ourselves and react to the experience. The “flow” is due to allow our controlling minds to let go and just embrace the chance of creative exploration.

We need to clear our minds and let go of the anxiety of perfection in order to embrace the joy of the experience. The reason that the flow state is so powerful is that if we stop trying to fit our work or performance into a preconceived box and allow ourselves to go on a creative journey, we can discover what we are capable of.

I often find myself in a headspace of trying to obtain a sense of perfection and anything less is unacceptable. When I do allow myself to let go creatively or in a performance, it is often the sense of wonder that I obtain through improvisation that connects with my audience more than that precision or perfection.

I am not saying that we should not strive to achieve a certain level of proficiency and consistency in our work, but it is through the act of improvisation and letting go of the belief that anything “less than perfect” is a failure, that we can truly begin to discover who we are and just how powerful these moments can be.

Embrace the flow state. Release yourself from the need to emulate others. Give yourself the permission to alter things based on how you want to express your creative self. Take a risk; Find humour and joy in the “creative face plants” and disasters and you will find your flow state becoming more frequent and enriching.

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For more information, I highly recommend the book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is considered to the one of the definitive works on this concept.

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