What is Flow State?
Flow exisits between boredom and anxiety! Scientists have measured it and found it exists 4% out of your comfort zone. Let me take you on a journey to start to find your flow.
When you're in flow you're creative, energised and can feel you're living your best life. You're not so stimulated you panic and take action for survival, nor are you bored and unmotivated.
Mindfulness practices like Yoga and Meditation down regulate the nervous system and unplugs fear so emotions don't hijack your experiences.
I know about anxiety and panic attacks and loved the idea of this flow state back when I was a support worker and living at 98% out of my comfort zone day and night. I was working in the charity sector which when the money got short, acted very uncharitably, the organisation proported to empower women, whilst bullying the remaining staff who hadn't been signed off sick.
There was no flow in my life. My stress and anxiety levels were so high, I suffered from panic attacks during the day, and nightmares. I'd oscillate between knowing how ill I was, and complete denial. I was very far out of my comfort zone. This had the affect of stressing my adrenals so much that I wouldn't have even known what 4% outside of a comfort zone would have felt like, because my baseline had shifted so much.
The situation I've described certainly sounds extreme, but I'm going out on a limb here and saying it's not. Stress and anxiety are at epic proportions. -When I was supporting women in crisis, they'd describe the abuse and say something like 'oh you've probably heard much worse.' But what is 'worse?' Our bodies are conditioned to respond to stress the same way. My spectactular burn out from a career is likely to tax my endocrine as much as someone else's relationship break up, or bad hair day. Genuinely. I'm not being flippant about hair. Your body has learned to respond to stressors and when you're not in a flow state a dodgy fringe will tip you over the edge.
My experiences of burn out, anxiety and panic attacks are what drive me to share Yoga and Meditation with everyone!
Signs you might not be flowing
You wake up tired and press the snooze button;
You nod off during your commute on public transport;
You have trouble getting to sleep, or experience broken sleep;
You have digestive issues, like IBS.
Find Flow State in Yoga
Movement with breath. You actually start to sync breath with movement, not just a little sniff of an inhale when given the cue to 'breathe in.'
Your movements flow. Sounds 'duh' but they actually do. And not just the sequenced postures. You flow and move mindfully when given the space to transition.
Yoga with me, regardless of style, has been designed to put you into a flow state. When I learn and experience new things in my practice I won't chuck it all into a session I transition students slowly, some familiar movements (down regaulating nervous system) some new (ooh exciting) and some playful poses (a little bit of challenge to help you stroll from your comfort zone). Yoga is a chance to be open and play with these concepts, these ideas, the real practice is integrating them into your life.
Join me as we go with the flow in classes, workshops and retreats.
Beautiful images courtesy of Jonathan Jones.