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Going with the Flow

Riding the flow.

Riding the flow.

Over past few weeks, I've come across this idea of flow. Going with the flow. Being in flow. What the heck is flow anyway? I thought I would explore it a little bit here.

Fun fact: I listen to a lot of podcasts about entrepreneurship, biohacking, weightlifting, becoming a better human, etc. etc. (drop me an email and I can send you some suggestions!). And for whatever reason--be it that I'm more in tune with the idea of flow and I'm Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon-ing this into existence, or because everyone is all of a sudden deciding to talk about it--flow has become a very hot topic on my pod feeds.

Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler, founders of the Flow Genome Project, define flow in this way: "Flow is the peak performance state where you feel your best and you perform your best." So it's essentially that feeling of getting in "the zone", be it with sports, music, writing, whatever. I have also heard on one of the many podcasts I have encountered that flow allows for the ability to shut down the "inner critic". But how?

According to this article in written by Kotler in Psychology Today, it's about brain waves:

In the state, our brainwaves move from the fast-moving beta wave of normal waking consciousness down to the far slower borderline between alpha and theta waves. Alpha is associated with day-dreaming mode—when we can slip from thought to thought without much internal resistance. Theta, meanwhile, only shows up during REM or just before we fall asleep, in that hypnogogic gap where ideas combine in truly radical ways.
— Steven Kotler

So what's the benefit of shutting of your inner critic and slipping into flow? Isn't your inner critic there to help you when you're about to find yourself in a dangerous or otherwise uncomfortable situation? Sure. But, as Mel Robbins says in her video interview with Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory points out, shutting off that inner critic can spur you to action and help you do things you never thought you could do.

I'm no expert on flow or theta waves, and there is continuous research about the topics of flow, inner critics, and productivity through enhancements (I'm not endorsing any use of enhancements to increase flow). But I do know the importance of getting out of your own way. Shutting off the nagging inner critic, technically located in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex section of the brain, allows you to dream big, be confident in your abilities to go beyond your current life narrative, and make moves toward change.

Apparently, not everyone gets into flow in the same way (through meditation, exercise, playing an instrument, walking). This quiz on the Flow Genome Project website can help you tap into your own unique way to get into the zone. I'm always looking for cool new research, so if you come across anything about flow, send me a message! I'd love to hear what you think.