If you weren’t aware of it before, you most certainly are now aware of how quickly life can change. And while I feel like we’re experiencing a unique time period right now, the lessons we can learn will help us in the future. One of the most important lessons that we can gain from this tumultuous time, is to learn to be in the moment and to cultivate moments of Flow State.
What is Flow State?
Flow can best be described as those times where you are so focused on what you’re doing that you lose track of time, you forget to eat, and you feel 100% in the moment. There are physiological, mental, and emotional benefits to experiencing and practicing Flow. We often find ourselves in Flow state, but we’re completely unaware of it. Developing mindfulness can help you not only recognize flow state when it happens but also supports you to find flow state more often. Mindfulness helps you get better at staying in the moment.
Developing habits to stay in the present moment with less stress begins by learning how to live in the moment. Get started by overcoming worry. You can do this by calming your mind and focusing on the solution, instead of the problem. That means putting into practice mindfulness practices.
Choose the mindfulness habits that appeal to you and work with your lifestyle.
To do this, all you really need to do is find a place to sit quietly. Then follow your breathing. Notice how your lungs expand and contract with each breath. Let your breathing be relaxed and natural. When you mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing. Meditation doesn’t have to be done for any specific length of time. It can be done sitting or while you do your daily walk. Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to longer.
#2 Mindful breathing.
This is related to meditation but is for short periods. Take short breaks occasionally, say 15 seconds, to observe your breathing. Then go back to whatever you were doing. Mindful breathing can be done anytime and anywhere. It interrupts the busyness of your mind, sort of like lifting your foot off the accelerator when driving.
#3 Walking mindfully.
This activity involves being aware of your walking. Pay attention to each step. Notice the different motions of your arms, your torso, and your legs. Bring your mind back to your legs when it begins to wander. This is a good activity to train yourself to be in the moment. Instead of texting or calling someone when you are walking, focus on the walk itself. While focusing on your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, critters, and other sensory objects when you walk outside.
#4 Eating mindfully.
Most of us eat mindlessly. We gulp down our food, not tasting it as our attention is focused on texting, watching TV, reading, or holding a meeting. The problem with this is we tend to eat things that aren’t what our body and mind need. We eat unhealthy foods, or we end up eating too much. Mindful eating helps with food cravings, better digestion, and weight loss.
To eat mindfully, slow down and avoid distractions from other activities. Contemplate on your choice of food. Think about the nutrients your body needs. Ask if this is what your body and mind need to be healthy or if this is the optimal portion size to be sufficient and not too much. Focus on choosing the portion you are putting in your mouth. Notice the smell, the texture, and the flavor as you chew. Swallow it.
#5 Being mindful with activities.
As you perform regular activities like washing dishes, focus your total attention on the activity. Resist letting your mind wander or getting distracted. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the task at hand. Notice your movements or the sensations of washing the dishes like how the soap feels on your hands or the water sliding down your hand as your rinse. These activities help you begin training your mind to be in the moment. Practicing some or all of these helps you develop the habit of staying in the present moment.
#6 Spend Time Doing What You Love
The last way to begin to cultivate and experience a feeling of flow is to spend time, daily if possible, doing something that you love. Now this may be something creative like writing, gardening, or painting. It can also be more technical or project oriented.
Choose one or two methods to try this week and afterwards, assess how you felt during the practice and how you feel after. Keep in mind that these sessions don’t need to be long. You can set aside 5 minutes a day for mindfulness in the beginning and gradually increase your practice over time.