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State of Complete Absorption, Peak Performance, and self-forgetfulness

I came across this term (FLOW) while I was reading about positive psychology, and then I came across this again when I was reading about Emotional Intelligence.

Musician consumed playing an instrument, Dancer consumed in rhythm, Player consumed in Game, and so on, there are several such instances of finding people in flow.

Positive Psychology defines flow as: The mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

Dr. Daniel Goleman defines flow as: A state of self-forgetfulness, the opposite of rumination and worry: instead of being lost in nervous preoccupation, people in flow are so absorbed in the task at hand that they lose all self-consciousness.

Two questions came to my mind one after another when I was reading about it, which I thought would be relevant to everyone especially if you are a coaches, so I thought of posting it. First question that came to my mind was

Q1. Is flow and mindfulness same?

Now I am no expert in mindfulness however I saw following:

  • Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment Wikipedia

  • Mindfulness maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment Greater Good

  • Mindfulness, It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. Mindful Org

Now if flow is a state of complete absorption, fully immersed in task at hand, where person even forgets himself, which I feel is more appropriate because that is when one is completely away from any emotions, feelings, thoughts and is present fully in now. Dr. Goleman mentions that even a thought of "I am feeling excited" can break the flow.

Flow can not be thought of as "watching TV", as flow means actively involved in the current operation,

It involves continuous feedback mechanism of error and correction, like a musician knows about wrong note being played and immediately correcting it, while in the flow. It involves constant innovation of if something is not happening finding a way to make it happen. This is a state of peak performance of individual, without being in the state of complete consciousness of what is being done.

Very often when people come out of the flow, they forget the details of what was being done during the flow.

So it seems, mindfulness which is the state of complete consciousness of now (feeling, thoughts, emotions, and environment) is very different from the state of Flow.

I do not feel equipped to discuss if one is better than another, but I will let you ponder on that.

Q2. Is there a co-relation of flow in Coaching? Is it same as presence?

Coaching presence has a lot of co-relation with the concept of "flow", as "flow" talks about being free from one's emotions, thoughts, being not critical, judgmental and even forgetful of oneself.

Coaching presence also talks about being invisible to caochee and yet be completely available for coachee, being completely non-judgmental of not only coachee but also about oneself as coach. Free from coach's own emotions, feelings and thoughts and fully immersed in session and being curious about coachee.

When in Flow, Coach does not need to think about what question to ask, instead questions, challenges, intuitions come in flow.

As coach becomes free from his/her own self, coach starts on the journey to become invisible, and become one with what is being discussed about coachee.

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