Flow is about effortlessly bringing the whole of ourselves to what we are doing and coming to that doing with sureness and confidence. “When in flow, the individual operates at full capacity,” writes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who has pioneered the concept in the field of organisational psychology. “The state is one of dynamic equilibrium. Entering flow depends on establishing a balance between perceived action capacities and perceived action opportunities. The balance is intrinsically fragile.”
For decades elite athletes have been talking about entering “the zone”, a place where time seems to be expanded and they can do no wrong. Of course, this often comes after years of hard work and discipline in their particular field.
Flow is available to us all whether we wait for it to occur spontaneously or whether we dedicate ourselves to its practice. Wendy Palmer, who offers a basic practice for entering the flow state, cautions however that the goal is not to be in flow all the time, but rather to be able to recover at will into a balanced centred state of flow. She writes, “the idea is to become skilled at coming back, not holding on.”
“As we are able to focus on the movement of the mind, we begin to notice that there is space between thoughts. This place of spaciousness is the womb of our creativity. From this still, calm place comes our inherent wisdom: the knowledge of our intuition with an understanding of what is needed for clear and compassionate action.”