When successful people describe flow, it almost sounds like they are describing an experience typically associated with drugs or a sexual encounter. In a state of flow, we are in a state of unforced focus; the most powerful type of focus. This is a state in which humans are able to accomplish tasks efficiently and effectively. Creativity explodes during the state of flow. Inventions, breakthroughs, insight, seeing opportunities we didn’t see before, all occur during flow. In order to understand flow, however, we need to understand brain cycles, because flow happens during two of those cycles: beta and alpha.
Our brain has 4 brain cycles:
- Beta – We are in beta when we are driving, talking, working, reading, exercising etc. It represents the brain’s highest state of alertness. In beta, our brain cycle is the highest, 20 cycles per second or more.
- Alpha – This is the period of time just prior to sleep. We’ve left beta and we’re about to fall asleep. When we meditate, we are generally in alpha. In alpha, our brain cycle is between 7-14 cycles per second.
- Theta – We’ve left Alpha and are now sleeping or in deep meditation. In theta, our brain cycle is between 4-7 cycles per second. This is also when REM (Rapid Eye Movement) occurs during sleep.
- Delta – We are in deep sleep. When we are in delta our brain is at it’s slowest.
When we are in flow, our brain is cycling somewhere between beta and alpha. It is where we want to be because when we are in flow, we are taping into our genius. How do you get into flow? 5 to 10 minutes of light meditation, followed immediately by action, will put you in a state of flow. How long it lasts depends on how motivated or passionate you are about the activity. If the activity is something you love and are passionate about, flow could last for hours. If it is a boring task, flow could last for minutes. Ideally, you want to put yourself into flow when you are pursuing a big goal, dream or engaged in your main purpose. Big goals or following your dream or purpose in life keeps you in a state of flow. Passion, keeps you in a state of flow. Great achievements are the byproduct of being in a state of flow. E=MC squared, the lightbulb, the automobile, T.V., the iPod, Google, Facebook, the paper clip, post-it pads and many other inventions were born in a state of flow. So go out there and get your flow on. It’s where genius happens.