The flow state, or simply ‘flow’, is the optimal psychological state that can occur during work, school, leisure, and especially sports.
“When in flow, one is fully involved in an activity and enjoys many benefits, including freedom from self-consciousness, great enjoyment of the process, clarity of goals and knowledge of performance, complete concentration, a sense of control and sensation. Experience a positive experience.Perfectly in tune with the performance. ”
Herbert W. Marsh
Scientific studies have been conducted on elite athletes measuring performance based on a “flow scale.” Athletes who can trigger flow states, or who have high flow scales, generally perform better.
So, if you can use Flow in your next tournament or training session, you can reach your peak performance and make your experience more enjoyable.
The science behind flow states
The flow state and how to achieve it are very much a mystery to neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists today.
Abraham Maslow, a well-known psychologist in the 1960s, used the term “self-actualization” to describe flow, a state of mind that leads to “best performance” in a particular activity (such as playing chess or improvising jazz). One thing was known. These experiences were described as memorable examples of happiness and fulfillment that made me very focused on my surroundings.
But what, if anything, can the study of neural activity in the brain do to make flow easier to understand?
Modern brain research arranges cognitive functions in a hierarchical order.In this account, the top of the hierarchy is prefrontal cortex It is responsible for higher cognitive functions (memory, attention, perception). Therefore, it was speculated that the prefrontal cortex might be involved in this mysterious “flow”.
Flow athletes, however, claim that the experience feels like a natural, automatic behavior that suggests they don’t need to think, and that the prefrontal cortex doesn’t need it.
Instead, it seems to have something to do with basal ganglia circuit This is partly responsible for what we call “muscle memory.” Muscle memory is a practice that consists of developing the same movement over and over again until you internalize the movement pattern. For example, a tennis player practicing his serve at the beginning of mastering the skill should be more aware of each move and pay more attention to the act.
But with enough practice, the movements will become natural and your body will move on its own. Flow therefore seems to be directly related to the level of automation and its distinct reaction pattern.
Furthermore, the flow implicit system (rather than the explicit system) This is one of two different information processing systems that our brains use. Implicit systems consist of processing and remembering content based on skill and experience, and are also inaccessible to conscious awareness. Implicit systems also make our actions highly effective because they are automated by the system itself.
This is why, when experiencing flow, agents do not consciously choose to be in a flow state, but are suddenly overcome by flow.
How do I know when I’m in flow?
Here are some characteristics of the flow experience described in Arne Dietrich’s scientific papers.
- A balance of tasks and skills.
- Every step has a clear goal.
- Distractions are removed from consciousness.
- No worries about failure.
- Distorted sense of time.
How can I achieve the flow state?
Finally, I would like to talk about how you can increase your chances of experiencing flow, whether you are an athlete or a musician.
Flow is related to your level of automation, so the more you practice to develop an individual skill, the more likely you are to rely on muscle memory to induce flow.
Additionally, it’s important to narrow your focus to a specific end goal, whether it’s receiving a serve or hitting a goal.
So it’s more efficient to zoom in on one thing than to be highly aware of everything around you.
However, it is advisable to remember that flow is a rare experience and requires a certain level of skill. You may also be experiencing flow without even knowing it.
In conclusion, flow need not be viewed as an abstract, unattainable spiritual state of being. This is something any athlete can achieve after some hard work and a certain level of self-awareness.
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