Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience is written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the father of positive psychology. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi’s research is fundamental to the mission of Flow Athletics. Let me make that clear, Flow Athletics is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Csikszentmihalyi; we are inspired by his work.
In fact, if you check out our home page, you’ll see this –
Today, I wanted to share an except from Dr. C’s book. I believe these words really help exemplify what being in the zone, the flow state, staying calm and focused, etc is really about. Much better than I can write it myself:
From The Merging of Action and Awareness chapter
“…One of the most universal and distinctive features of optimal experience takes place: people become so involved in what they are doing that the activity becomes spontaneous, almost automatic; they stop being aware of themselves as separate from the actions they are performing.
A dancer describes how it feels when a performance is going well: “Your concentration is very complete. Your mind isn’t wandering, you are not thinking of something else; you are totally involved in what you are doing… Your energy is flowing very smoothly. You feel relaxed, comfortable, and energetic.”
A rock climber explains how it feels when he is scaling a mountain: “You are so involved in what you are doing [that] you aren’t thinking of yourself as separate from the immediate activity…You don’t see yourself as separate from what you are doing.”
… It is for this reason that we called the optimal experience “flow”. The short and simple word describes well the sense of seemingly effortless movement.
…Although the flow experience appears to be effortless, it is far from being so. It often requires strenuous physical exertion, or highly disciplined mental activity.
One of my favorite descriptions of flow comes from Dr. Jay Granat:
“The zone is a state of mind which is marked by a sense of calmness. In addition, there is a heightened sense of awareness and focus. Actions seem effortless and there is an increased belief that your dreams or goals can become achievable and real. In addition, there is also a sense of deep enjoyment when the person is in this unique, special and magical state of being.”
Think back to the last time you were at your best in the practice room. How did you feel?