Flow States, Routines, Chakras, and You: A Journey to Optimal Performance

Boost your performance by finding your flow, managing the routines, and balancing your chakras.

Honoring my flow state has been a lesson in self-trust and understanding my natural rhythms. Recently, I found myself deeply immersed in the complexities of a real estate deal and planning for an upcoming move. My mind was consumed with the logistics and details, leaving little room for anything else. Despite my dedication to this task, I couldn't shake the feeling of guilt for neglecting my marketing responsibilities for an impending open enrollment cycle at my EASE Coach Certification School, which ends on March 15th. I felt drained, lacking the energy and creative spark needed for the upcoming marketing efforts. I felt no "flow" for those marketing tasks when I checked with my body.

Instead of guilting myself, I made the conscious decision to honor my flow state, trusting that once the real estate project was complete, I would be able to refocus my attention. When the time came to transition to marketing my coaching school, it initially felt like a struggle. Yet, as I began to delve into the tasks at hand, I found myself slipping effortlessly into a state of flow. My mind and body were aligned and primed for the work, and ideas flowed freely. In embracing and honoring my flow state, I not only completed the marketing tasks with precision but also reaffirmed the importance of trusting my instincts and allowing myself the necessary space to thrive.

Flow States Are Your Ally

As leaders, we are constantly juggling numerous tasks and responsibilities, striving to maintain peak performance and drive results. Yet, in the pursuit of productivity, we often overlook one of our most powerful allies: flow states. These states of optimal experience, characterized by intense focus and deep absorption in an activity, have the potential to elevate our performance and enhance our effectiveness as leaders. In this blog, we'll explore what flow states are, how we can become psychophysically aligned to a task, and why honoring our flow states is essential for maximizing our potential.

What are Flow States?

Flow, also referred to as being "in the zone," was introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 1970s through his research on happiness and creativity. It represents moments of intense focus and absorption in an activity, where individuals experience a deep sense of enjoyment and fulfillment. Picture yourself learning a new skill, such as playing a musical instrument. At first, the challenge may seem too great, leading to frustration and procrastination. However, by gradually increasing the difficulty of the tasks and honing your skills through consistent practice, you find yourself entering a state of flow. As the music flows effortlessly from your fingertips, you lose track of time, fully immersed in the joy of creation. In this state, the once-daunting challenge becomes an opportunity for growth and self-expression.

Psychophysically aligned to the task at hand, we are primed for peak performance, making it easier to focus and complete tasks with precision. This state of one-pointed attention allows us to tap into our full potential and achieve greater levels of productivity and creativity.

Key characteristics of flow states include:

- Intense Focus: Individuals become fully immersed in the task at hand, with a heightened concentration on their actions.

- Loss of Self-consciousness: There's a sense of merging with the activity, where individuals are not overly concerned with their own performance or self-evaluation.

- Clear Goals: Flow states often occur when individuals have clear, achievable goals that provide direction and structure to their actions.

- Immediate Feedback: Activities that offer immediate feedback on performance make it easier to enter a flow state because individuals can adjust their actions in real-time.

- Balance Between Skill and Challenge: Flow states occur when the level of challenge presented by the activity matches the individual's skill level. If the task is too easy, it can lead to boredom, while if it's too difficult, it can lead to anxiety. Flow happens when there's a perfect balance between the two.

- Distorted Sense of Time: During flow, individuals may lose track of time, feeling as though hours pass by in minutes.

- Intrinsic Motivation: Flow is often associated with activities that are intrinsically rewarding, where individuals engage in the task for its own sake rather than for external rewards.

Activities that commonly induce flow include sports, playing music, painting, writing, coding, and many other creative or challenging tasks. Achieving flow can lead to increased productivity, creativity, and overall well-being. Therefore, understanding how to enter and maintain flow states can be beneficial for personal and professional growth.

Flow States and the Brain Waves: Easy Entrance into Flow States

Research into the neurocognitive correlates of flow states reveals a fascinating relationship between brain wave activity and optimal performance. Alpha, beta, and gamma oscillations are key components examined in these studies. Alpha waves, commonly associated with relaxed wakefulness, demonstrate a decrease during flow states, indicating heightened focus and diminished self-awareness. Conversely, beta waves, which are linked to active concentration and cognitive processing, may surge in specific brain regions during flow, showcasing increased cognitive engagement.

Furthermore, gamma oscillations, crucial for complex cognitive functions and sensory information integration, exhibit synchronization during flow, facilitating enhanced cognitive coherence. Khosrowabadi and Wahab's (2019) investigation into EEG analysis during flow states provides valuable insights into the intricate interplay between brain wave dynamics and optimal performance.

Alpha states provide a great springboard into heightened flow states. It is important that we know how to step back into alpha before and after flow states as it helps with relaxation, mental acuity , enhanced focus, mindfulness & presence & openness to consider new experiences.

Consider mantra meditation, meditation, pranayama, green spaces, mindful walking, nature immersion, yoga nidra & earthing/ grounding to get back quickly into alpha states to rejuvenate and energize yourself for the next flow state.

Flow States, Chakras, and Task Transitions:

Transitioning out of a flow state can be challenging as it requires a significant shift in our chakra states and energetic focus. When we are deeply immersed in a task that engages specific chakras, such as the root and solar plexus chakras during a home move, our energy becomes concentrated in these areas, making it difficult to suddenly redirect our focus to tasks that require different energetic alignments. Attempting to switch gears abruptly can disrupt the natural flow of energy and hinder our ability to maintain optimal concentration and productivity. Therefore, it is often more beneficial to honor the flow state, complete the task at hand with precision, and then take a short break to rest and rejuvenate. This approach allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the present task, harnessing the power of our aligned chakras, before transitioning smoothly to the next task when we are ready. By honoring our flow states and respecting the natural rhythm of our energy, we can maximize our effectiveness and achieve greater levels of success in all areas of our lives.

Sometimes these flow states last for days together. I allow myself to flow with my flow state, knowing fully well that my best creative and most efficient performances come from honoring my flow states.

Honoring Flow States vs. Routines:

While routines can provide structure and stability to our daily lives, they can also be detrimental to our ability to enter and sustain flow states. Routines force us to adhere to predetermined schedules and tasks, often pulling us out of the present moment and disrupting our natural flow of concentration. In contrast, honoring our flow states allows us to harness the full energy and concentration they provide, enabling us to stay focused and complete tasks with greater quality and efficiency. By embracing flow states, leaders can unlock their true potential and lead with clarity, purpose, and excellence.

Now routines are important. Routines bring regulation. As Lord Krishna explains in the Bhagavad Gita 6.17:

yuktahara-viharasya yukta-cestasya karmasu

yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha

He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.

Now, I follow my routines around my physicality- eating, sleeping, exercising and recreation on time. It keeps my body and mind primed for better focus and flow states. But in terms of tasks I follow flow states more than task routines and I find it serves me better.

Distinguishing Flow States from Procrastination

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Honoring our flow states is not always about procrastination; it's about recognizing when our minds are deeply engaged in a particular task or project. Take, for example, the experience of my being consumed by the intricacies of a real estate deal and planning for an eventual move. During this time, our focus is naturally directed towards these pressing matters, making it challenging to divert our attention to other tasks. In such moments, it's easy to feel guilty for neglecting other responsibilities, such as marketing tasks for an upcoming open enrollment cycle for a coaching school. Despite feeling drained and lacking creativity for the new endeavor, trusting in our flow state is paramount. As we honor this natural state of absorption, we allow ourselves the time and space needed to fully immerse in the present task.

Once the previous project is completed, transitioning to the next task may initially feel forced. However, as we begin to engage with it, we may find ourselves effortlessly slipping into another flow state. In this state, our minds and bodies are primed and ready, brimming with energy and creativity, enabling us to tackle the new task with clarity and enthusiasm. Thus, by honoring our flow states, we not only optimize our productivity but also nurture our overall well-being and creativity.

Closing with 4 Tips:

As we navigate the complexities of leadership and productivity, it's crucial to remember the importance of honoring our flow states and staying focused on completing tasks. Here are three key tips to keep in mind:

- Honor Your Flow State: Recognize when you're in a state of flow and fully immerse yourself in the task at hand. Trust your instincts and allow yourself the time and space needed to complete the task with precision.

- Zoom In, Do It Well, Zoom Out: Take a focused approach to your tasks by zooming in to do them well and then zooming out to take a break before transitioning to the next task. This cycle of intense focus followed by relaxation allows you to recharge and maintain optimal productivity.

- Complete the Task: Understand that completing a task is essential, as it can be challenging to re-enter a flow state once interrupted. By prioritizing task completion, you maximize your chances of achieving flow and reaching your goals efficiently.

- Minimize Distractions: My flow states are important for me. I postpone meetings, calls, recreation for after my flow states. I minimize all distractions, keep my surroundings neat and clean too so I can stay focused and optimize my flow states. I have reached a point where I can plan my flow states and plan my life around them

By incorporating these tips into your leadership approach, you can harness the power of flow states to drive success and inspire greatness in yourself and those around you. Remember, in the pursuit of excellence, honoring your flow state is not just a choice but a necessity.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Would love to learn more about how you honor your flow states!

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Categories: Leadership