Let's talk about flow. To be in the flow, or flow state as it's scientifically called, is to be in a mental state where you're totally immersed in the now—and it feels so good. Research shows that when we hone our energy into one task and are consumed with the present moment, we live happier and more positive lives. For artists, the flow state means creating without writer's block or the inner critic. Some might experience the flow state when making coffee, hiking through a rigorous trail, or working on a motorcycle.
However you define it, flow is associated with peace—after all, what's better than being fully present? To learn more about this flow, we worked with one of our fave brands, Flow Alkaline Spring Water. They're on a mission to inspire mindful hydration, because all of our choices (even small ones!) have a ripple effect. Together, we interviewed some of the world's top yoga, fitness, and meditation teachers, and asked how they found their flow. See the inspiring answers here:
Briohny Smyth: "Something that is completely all encompassing of the mind."
In a busy schedule like mine, finding my flow means that I actually have to plan the time to be present. So first and foremost, it would mean scheduling time for myself. Whether it’s yoga or meditation or even listening to a podcast, I need something that completely is all encompassing of the mind.
To me, flow is where my thoughts are not consuming my state of being. Of course, I’m always thinking (the mind’s job is to think), but when thoughts consume you, its usually when those thoughts are based out of fear or worry or anxiety or stress. And of course, we might be thinking thoughts that could spark those feelings, but flow helps with that. Drawing yourself into the present moment allows you to notice your thoughts, rather than fall victim to their power.
Jacy Cunningham: "The flow follows intention."
I believe flow follows intention. It all comes down to a matter of energy. I often find myself in a flow every time I teach or provide an experience. After 10 minutes of guiding I usually enter into a channeled space where I am no longer searching for words but instead words are finding me. Also, I find that when I am fully embracing my authenticity and honoring my full being, I enter into states of bliss and radical acceptance which are reminiscent of flow. We come from water and there is a current of energy which flows through each and every one of us, giving us space to be ourselves.To me, flow is a state of being where one is no longer seeking a question but becoming the answer. Recognizing the importance of our inner world is vital to us establishing lives we love. To flow is to exist in union with the natural forces of the universe which are constantly sending us messages to adorn our experience. We must establish clarity to fully receive the divine signals. Meditation is something that I find helps me free some space up within to establish flow.
Mary Beth LaRue: "I'm in flow when I lose track of time."
[caption id="attachment_107926" align="alignnone" width="768"] Photo by Jake Laub[/caption]
Flow is one of my most important values. One thing that helps is knowing what disrupts my flow—too much caffeine, social media, obsessive thinking, etc. And it helps to know what puts me into flow —meditation, doing something creative like writing or collaging, going for a long walk, being around people who inspire me. I know I'm in flow when I lose track of time but feel satiated by what I'm doing.
Elena Brower: "I've entered the heart of whatever I'm doing."
Typically, the most readily available sensation of the flow comes at the end of a yoga practice, a run, a meditation (after breathing and chanting)—or even cooking in the kitchen! At those times, once the body and breathing have been wrung out and soothed, I'm present and truly awake for moments at a time. When I sense it, my only aim is to breathe deeply and allow that state to imprint my cells and psyche, which will help my body and mind heal whatever needs more attention.
When I’m in flow, I’ve fully entered the heart of whatever I'm doing—whether it's asana, a run, a meditation, or creating. And when that's happening, there's a clear connection to my ancestors, my deepest listening—it's as though I can see more clearly both literally and figuratively. And it also grants me access to my treasured creativity. Time in that state is valuable to me, so I cultivate it as often as I can.
Chelsey Korus: "To fully engage everyday moments with a sense a play."
I find my flow when the challenge of any given situation and my skill level to engage with that challenge are met at the same level. When my skill level is higher than the presented challenge, I am most likely feeling a bit bored. For example, washing the dishes or brushing my teeth. Those activities can be pretty boring, but not if I up the challenge. What if I had to recite poetry by memory, or if I had to stand on one leg, or brush using my non dominant hand—that would make things more interesting and present an opportunity to recruit all of my attention to the present moment. On the flip side, some things in life present a challenge that is too high for my skill level and I respond with a feeling of anxiety. For example, I’m invited to a party by myself where I don’t know a single person. I don’t have a role. I am not facilitating in anyway, I just have to “mingle.” For me, that is very difficult. What do I say? Where do I stand? What do I wear? So many variables. What I need in those moments is to bring the challenge down by removing some of the variables, and give myself some simple goals to accomplish while I’m there. For me, I don’t do well with chit-chat, so I challenge myself to compliment three people while I’m there. A genuine, heartfelt observation, and express it to someone at the party. That way, I have a job to do and a very specific goal in mind, and my anxiety goes down because now the challenge is more in my wheelhouse.I believe that we can play with our lives in this way. To first allow the feelings and express them to ourselves. I am bored or I am anxious. And then do something about the challenge that is presented. Either scale it back or ramp it up, but to fully engage everyday moments with a sense of play keeps life fun and exciting. Inspired to learn more? You can practice with Briohny, Jacy, Mary Beth, Elena, and Chelsey at Wanderlust's premiere wellness expo, Wellspring, October 26–28. To stay hydrated while you flow, check out Flow Alkaline Spring Water.
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