Here’s a fun and interesting question from Zoubair:
“My questions concern the flow state (funnily enough, you mentioned it in one of your recent newsletters). I get that human beings, when in this state, can see a dramatic increase in performance, but if it’s only an acute result, gone as soon as you exit this state, is it really worthwhile pursuing this? Of course, it could be incredibly useful if it is possible to reach that state on demand, when you really need to, but is it possible in the first place with enough training? Last question, is it possible to attain those dramatic increases in performance in a field which has nothing to do with physical training (for example, playing a musical instrument?)
The root of your question stems from black & white thinking.
Flow state is NOT a static thing.
For that reason, we really should talk about it in terms of flow, or even better, flowing.
Think of flowing as being on a spectrum. And you can think of it best with a question such as this. How well are you flowing in this activity?
(As for music, absolutely it occurs there, in fact that’s one of the best examples. Jazz improv doesn’t happen without group flow!)
Now we might get caught into those peak experiences of incredible flow that we hear about of have experience a handful of times in our life.
That’s great. But that’s simply the peak of flowing. And it’s rare.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t thousands of examples of flowing, at less of a peak, yet for more common, even almost mundane.
Let’s take what I’m doing right now, writing this email to you. At the beginning as I begun to ponder this question I was thinking, writing sentences, stopping, reflecting, wondering where I wanted to go with it. It was very start-and-stop. In other words, not flowy.
But as I progress, I begin to get into the flow with it. The words fly off my fingertips with ease and speed as I really enter into flow in writing here.
(Think about the muscle memory of being able to type at 70wpm, when I couldn’t consciously tell you where the letter “g” is on the board without looking. That’s flow!)
It’s much the same with training. In just a single set of an exercise, you may get into some bit of flow.
Just don’t expect this to be the eyes-wide-let-me-tell-you-about-the-flow-experience type of thing that some describe. Not in every workout for sure!
And when we think about flowing in this way it makes more sense that we can enter into it on demand.
In Mental Muscle, I talk about the different sub-qualities of flow and how you can better access these through an anchoring exercise described there.
That’s one route in.
There are many, many others. Music is a great one as I describe in this article.
And then there are certain types of training that are more flowy than others. Flow in your movement…and this has the power to help you better enter into the flow state.
Plus I have a hypothesis that entering flow with movement is especially good for neurological health.
These are some of my courses that can help you do just that.
The more you are able to enter into flowing at will, the easier it becomes, the better you perform, and so on. You’re in beneficial reinforcing loop.
So yes, absolutely flow is worth doing.