This is defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
For example technology companies in Silicon Valley are receptive to flow state and mindfulness because they believe in being at the vanguard of change and innovation.
"If you are a company leader who says employees should be encouraged to exercise,
nobody looks at you funny," Tan says. "The same thing is happening to meditation and
mindfulness because now that it's become scientific, it has been demystified.
It's going to be seen as fitness for the mind."
- Chade-Meng Tan, Google's Head of Mindfulness
And it's not just musicians, artists, and athletes who are most familiar with flow, or being “in the zone.” Its when business leaders and teams generate their best ideas. Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi popularized the term in his 1990 book 'Finding Flow' describing how the mental state of flow involves “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
Flow experience is a subjective state experienced during holistic involvement in a certain activity, which has been reported to function as a factor promoting motivation, skill development, and better performance in the activity.
Flow science dates back to the early 1900s when researcher William James in Harvard began documenting the ways the brain can alter consciousness to improve performance, and legendary physiologist Walter Bradford Cannon, James’ student, discovered a link between mind and body - 'the fight-or-flight' response that helped explain this amplified performance.
Here are 10 factors (not all of these factors need to be present in order) to achieve flow state, but they are the emotions and responses most often associated with this mental state :
1. Having clear goals about what you want to achieve
2. Concentration and focus
3. Participating in an intrinsically rewarding activity
4. Losing feelings of self-consciousness
5. Timelessness; losing track of time passing
6. Being able to immediately judge your own progress; instant feedback on your performance
7. Knowing that your skills align with the goals of the task
8. Feeling control over the situation and the outcome
9. Lack of awareness of physical needs
10. Complete focus on the activity itself
A Fitbit for the mind
Chade-Meng Tan speaks for example, of devices that will be able to show how meditation impacts brain waves, potentially creating a whole industry of professional trainers.
"Through the development of apps and other software, tech companies such as Google will have a major part to play in mainstreaming mindfulness, he predicts. In the same way that the pedometer has influenced exercise, these apps could similarly popularise mindfulness. Just imagine setting a goal like 'a year from now, I want to be able to calm my mind in 40% of the time it takes me now' and my personal trainer is accountable to that target"