Flow is a mental state in which you are fully immersed in an activity such that you loose your connection with anything outside of that activity and results in a change in one’s perception of time.
I had not heard of this phenomenon until I started climbing about 6 years ago, and I would not experience it for myself until about 2 years after that. I am big into bouldering, a type of climbing where you use padded mats to protect you when you fall as opposed to ropes, and I really enjoy pushing my physical limits and finding climbs that I can not do and trying them over and over until I do them. I remember vividly trying a route over and over again one day and not really making much progress and deciding to take a small break and give the climb one last try, after my break I immediately climbed the route with ease. It was a strange feeling though, usually when I climb I am thinking about a lot of thing, where to place my feet next, body position, the size and shape of the next hold and how it will feel when I grab it, but during this climb I was not thinking about anything and it felt like time had stood still. I soon realized this was the flow state I had heard about and began trying to reach that state as often as possible, this turns out to be quite a challenging task though as it seems the harder you try to reach the flow state the less likely you are to end up there. These days I do not chase the feeling, but rather let it happen naturally and enjoy the feeling when it does happen.
After my first experience with flow while climbing I thought about the feeling quite a lot and realized I had felt it before. I have been playing music for a long time, I have played the drums since I was about 9 and was big into band in highschool where I was on the drumline playing snare but spent quite a lot of time playing marimba solos because I like melodic instruments. I realized that there were multiple times I had performed a solo or a marching band show and gone into the flow state, it didn’t happen with every performance, but I can say that the ones were it did happen were my best performances.
Overall the flow state is one of the most amazing phenomenons I have experienced, not only do you feel the total immersion in an activity but there is some euphoria I personally get from knowing that I have the underlying skills necessary to go into that state at all.
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