The Power of Flow
When you are in the present moment or in flow, you are in a peak experience. The voice in the head is gone, the self critic is gone, and only awareness remains. All senses are heightened and there is a feeling of aliveness in the body.
Down to the cells, there is a feeling of lightness. You feel benevolent, peaceful and relaxed, without tension.
Scientific journalist, Steven Kotler, was so amazed that he was able to heal completely from a very serious illness by getting into the flow state that he did the scientific research and wrote a book, The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance.
He found that in flow, you are in Alpha and Theta brain state and the 5 most potent feel good chemicals known to man are released into the body so you feel great. You feel completely fulfilled in this state.
Using recent research in neuroscience, he found that in flow creativity skyrockets by as much as 700%, the immune system is drastically heightened, motivation surges, the nervous system resets and you are in a state of peak performance. Studies have found that CEOs operating in flow are 5 times more productive.
There is no worry, anxiety or negativity. Besides the fact that you feel good, another great benefit is that synchronicity and happy coincidences happen more. You feel tapped in, tuned in and turned on as Esther Hicks says.
I found myself in this state for several weeks after I was in a bad accident. I was hit by a pickup truck going 40 miles an hour when I was walking across a crosswalk hurrying to catch a bus to work in the morning. I was thrown in the air on impact and landed face down and hit the left side of my forehead on the asphalt.
I remembered the feeling of well-being I had despite being in a wheel chair for three months healing from the injuries. I was so grateful to be alive. Unfortunately, this feeling of well-being did not last. The self-critic and feelings of stress came back after a few weeks.
A few years after the accident, I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now and knew what he was talking about, however I was only able to be focused in the present moment for seconds at a time without having thoughts come up, then just minutes.
I realized I needed to let go of all the negativity and stress to be able to let go of all that was going on in my mind and spend longer focused in the present moment. The big Aha! moment came for me when I learned that most people are habitually in Beta brain state, in a very fast brain wave, all day long, and that in Beta state it is actually hard to stop thinking negative thoughts.
It is easiest to be focused in the five senses and present in the moment without the voice chattering in the head if you are relaxed in Alpha brain state, with more slower brain waves. It is easy to access Alpha brain state by doing a deep breathing pattern for a few minutes.
In Alpha state, the body and mind relaxes, there is clarity of mind, impulse control and you are all of a sudden connected with intuition and your higher self.
In Alpha brain state it is actually hard to worry and think negative thoughts.
Yogis and Buddhists have known this for over a thousand years. Until the very recent advent of brain scan technology though we did not have the clear scientific data.
The second key to being in this state is to have awareness of all parts of the body. Eckhart Tolle points out that to be in presence, focused in the present moment, you have to be present in the body and feel awareness of the body. In the beginning this can take training because many people are habitually focused only in their heads.
You can become present in the body by concentrating awareness in each part of the body at a time and going through the whole body focusing awareness on one part at a time. It becomes easier and easier with practice.
The third key component that is very helpful to get into flow state and be in presence is accessing the whole brain state. The whole brain state happens when both hemispheres of the brain are functioning in unison at the same time instead of one hemisphere being dominant at a time, which is usually the case.
Buddhists have also known this for over a thousand years, however recent brain scan technology has provided the scientific data for how and why it works. Getting into whole brain state is also easy.
There are many ways to access the whole brain state. Dr. Les Fehmi, Director of the Princeton Biofeedback Center, found that one of the fastest ways to access whole brain state is to focus on space.
Using brain scans, he found that focusing on space will make the blood flow equalize in both sides of the brain, so you achieve whole brain state.
Focusing on the space around an object or within an object will trigger the whole brain state. You could also focus your attention on the space between your fingers, the space between your eyebrows, the imaginary space around your heart, the space around your body or in the room around you, etc.
I am doing a course by Eckart Tolle called “Teaching Presence”. He starts off saying you will always feel you are not ready to teach this.
My attention perked up at this. He went on to say that if you wait until you are focused in the present moment all the time, you will wait a very very long time and then he laughed. He said it is easy to feel like a fraud because you get knocked out of the present moment.
He calls these times you are knocked out, “rebirths”. I thought that was a funny way of referring to the re-appearance of the ego or the voice in the head. He says the rebirths will become shorter and you won’t get caught up in them for as long.
He points out that the ego is very cunning and very stealthy in the way it hooks the mind and causes a rebirth. He says then the problems pop up, one problem after another appear in your mind.
I have been setting alarms on my phone throughout the day to consistently do deep breathing patterns to keep in the Alpha brain state, and at the same time I focus awareness on every part of my body to be completely present in my body. I also focus my concentration on space around and within objects to get into the whole brain state, or what Kershaw and Wade refer to as "Alpha-synchrony" in their book, The Worry-Free Mind.
Whatever you do consistently rewires the brain so that with enough consistency it will eventually become automatic.
Since I have been doing this consistently, not only have I let go of a lot of negativity, stress, worry, and anxiety, I have gotten to feel blissful when doing the three things. I have had way more joy in my life which has spilled over into the life of my daughter in so many ways.
So problems don't keep popping up for me when I am not in presence like Eckhart says, however what I have found DOES happen is that old patterns that I have not yet healed will pop up. And then I realize that they are then old patterns that I have to heal.
Sounds so simple. When the patterns pop up it is not a pleasant experience to varying degrees. It can feel like a kick in the butt or bring even more anguish. This is what Eckhart talks about with his “rebirths”. Acceptance and non-resistance is key.
A friend told me about going to the Hoffman Institute for five days which is great for clearing old patterns. It is pretty pricey.
It costs nothing to do Alpha breathing, feel awareness of every part of the body and get into whole brain state to access the space where potent feel good chemicals flood your body, all for free. You feel good, one with everything, in love with life and completely fulfilled. All for free!
As scientific journalist, Steven Kotler writes in his book, The Rise of Superman, the same chemicals that are in drugs that people spend crazy amounts of money for and die for, you can access these same chemicals all for free in your own body! And on top of that you are way more creative, your immune system goes into overdrive, the nervous system resets, you are more connected with intuition, and are in peak performance.
It takes training your brain but it is definitely worth it!