12 Jan How to go with the ‘flow’ in 2016
It’s a new year, and one of the most exciting things about a fresh new year is starting something new, whether it is a new class, a new diet or a lifestyle change (like trying a yoga retreat or mindfulness classes). If you are looking for something really productive to do this year we recommend taking up a ‘flow’ activity.
What is flow?
Flow is characterized by the moments of intense focus that sportsmen might refer to as being ‘in the zone’. Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyia is one of the pioneers of the research on flow. His research shows that creating something seemed to be more important to people than the finished work itself, and this is when a person was in ‘the flow state’.
The flow state is when a person is completely engrossed in an activity with focus and engagement. In positive psychology, flow is a mental state of operation when a person who is completing an activity is absorbed in a feeling of focus, full involvement and enjoyment. All in all, flow is defined by complete absorption in what a person does. It’s mindfulness and being present in the here and now at its most intense.
What is a flow activity?
A flow activity can be almost any activity that changes your mental state and results in you feeling the full involvement of the activity.
Musicians often experience this state of mind when they are playing their instruments; research has shown that when in a state of flow musicians had a heightened performance.
When participating in a sporting activity many people also have a concept of being ‘in the zone’ – this is because the participant puts everything they have into the activity. If the activity has a competitive aspect this heightens the state of flow.
Yoga is a great activity to take up this new year to reap the benefits of flow. Yoga is a mind body exercise and the combination of pranayama (yoga breathing) and the poses themselves result in sustained focus. At our yoga retreats with digital detox we participate in two yoga sessions each day. During these sessions you will experience first hand the benefits yoga and being in ‘flow’ can give you.
At our digital detox retreats in Cornwall and Hawaii we also offer guests the chance of trying surfing, not only so that they can experience the local area, but also because surfing is also an activity that requires focus. Similar to yoga, surfing will lead to you experiencing a state of flow.
How will a flow activity make you feel?
Research by Csikszentmihalyia suggests that taking part in regular flow activities can make your life more happy and successful. The experience of flow is thought to lead to heightened positive feelings and better performance in the particular activity you choose.
Taking part in a flow activity will give you a sense of fulfilment and focus during the activity; however the benefits of satisfaction and positivity will stay with you long after the activity is over. ‘Flow’ is probably why yoginis and surfers are both characterised by that ‘chilled-out’ very relaxed, look. Give flow a go in 2016!