You’ve never been here before. You’ve spent hours getting here. It’s cold and wet. You carefully climb up beside the waterfall. It’s your turn to jump. The ripples on the icy water are so small and far away that you almost lose your balance. Didn’t someone die here last year? They landed on a rock just under the murky water. From this height you can break bones just from hitting the water wrong. This could kill you. This could be the last place you ever stand. Your breath catches as you feel panic about to set in. The ripples are so far away. You slow down your breathing a bit. You know where the shallow rocks are, you’ve scouted them. Breath all the way in. Slowly out. It’s all in slow motion now, your friends, the water, the breeze. Even the cold moss feels slow under your feet. You smile to yourself and jump out from rock. You look around for a split moment to take it all in. You enter the water perfectly. Bliss.
In a nutshell your brain gets flooded with all the ‘good’ hormones, and it all helps you focus on whatever you’re doing. That’s flow. You know you’re in flow state when your ‘self’ disappears, and your brain channels it’s resources to other parts of the brain. It thinks you’re in trouble, and you could well be, so it does what it can so that you can survive.
There are a few triggers and gradations of the state, with time you can learn what best works for you. An added benefit of getting into a flow state is that it can linger for a day or so, which means if you need to study, or be in a higher performing state, you can.
As I said before, there are quite a few triggers. This is what works for me: I need to be uncomfortable, and stretching my abilities a little further than I’d normally like. Then, I need to be aware of what’s happening, and calm myself and my breathing. A final and critical part is the come-down afterwards, where everything I’ve been through get’s more cemented in place.
If you’re interested, this video is worth the watch, and goes much more in depth on how to get into a flow state, the long-term benefits, and how people are using this to learn faster, be more creative, and break world records.