Think about the last time you experienced a disruption in your plans, schedule, or life, some type of change that threw you off and was unsettling. Can you recall how long it affected you? How it made you feel? How long you carried those feelings? How did it impacted other areas of your life or your interactions with others?
Change and disruption is often unexpected and can knock us off center. Worse, it can be paralyzing. No wonder so many people resist change. Yet, what we resists persists. The onlyabsolutesin life are change and death. If we are willing to look at them with a different perspective, we can harness them for growth and evolution.
Before we look at how to shift the perspective, let’s talk a bit about flow state. In this state, the person is hyperfocused, completely absorption in action, and creating a perceived loss of sense of space and time. In flow state, the brain more fully activates an intense and focused concentration. Action and awareness merge. Tome seems to dissolve. Problem solving and creativity abound.
If you’re going to face change and disruption, facing it in a flow state is the ideal.
Getting to that state requires a few steps:
- A clear problem, goal(s), and measurement of progress is needed.
- Clear and immediate feedback is necessary to negotiate changing demands and allow performance adjustment to stay in flow.
- Confidence that the skills needed to complete the goal are present – either within yourself or the team you are working with.
To get into a flow state, you need to be free of distractions and relaxed. It’s why so many people have great ideas while showering! They aren’t trying to solve the problem, they’re focused on getting clean. Free of the distraction of the need to solve the problem and the potential consequences of not solving it, the brain is able to be creative.
Meditation, yoga, tai chi are all examples of exercises that train our body and mind to be in a pre-flow state. If we learn how to get quite and undistracted on the meditation cushion, on the mat, in the movement, we are more likely to be able to access that discipline in the moment of disruption and challenge.
Without that skill, it is difficult to shift perspective on disruption and change. Friction and challenge are catalyst for change and evolution. When we experience disruption and challenge, we can see where we have gotten too complacent or comfortable. If we can shift into the flow state and approach the situation with focus, we can creatively solve the problem more effectively and efficiently. It ceases to derail or paralyze us. With each new solution, we become better and better.
Here’s another bonus about flow, it makes you 500% more productive.
If you could be 5x more productive when you normally would be wishing you could crouch into a ball and hide, imagine what could come of that!
Try this morning meditation to begin training your mind for a flow state.
In the morning before making coffee or tea (Don’t drink either? You can do this with a glass of water, too), take three deep, slow, conscious breaths. Allow the mind time to pause and be fully engaged in the breath for that time and nothing else.
As you open the coffee or tea, smell it with your eyes closed. Take a second to honor the earth for nourishing the plants, the people who farmed and processed it, all those involved in transportation to get it from place to place, the people who work in the store you purchased it.
Focus all of your attention in the present moment on the actions necessary to brew the coffee or tea. Pretend for the moment that past and future do not exist; you’ve never experienced this beverage before in the way you will and honestly you have no idea who you will experience it.
Slowly, with deliberate movements, go about your activity. Make it into a meditative practice but with an intensity of focus. As the hot water combines with the tea/coffee, notice the alchemical process, the scents, how your body feels while waiting.
Remain alert and keep the mind fully attentive to what you are doing in that moment only– not allowing it to slip off into unconscious mind chatter. Be completely absorbed in the activity as if you had just been born into this world. Continue to focus on your breath, patiently enjoying each moment of this process. The activity ‘comes alive’ when you practice it with mindfulness.
If your mind does slip off into ‘autopilot’ simply guide it back to being intensely engaged in what your doing. Nothing else matters in this moment.
Once the beverage is ready, take the first sip as if it is the first time you’ve ever experienced this. How does it feel, smell, taste? Notice the heat of the cup, warming your hands. Notice how your body feels. Take a brief moment to offer gratitude for this experience before moving forward with your day.
Would you like to be more mindful and intentional in your daily living? Let’s talk.
Also published on Medium.