Mental Training to Achieve the “Flow”

Mental Training

Mental training can be used in all walks of life, for athletes, artists, dancers, business people, scientists, entrepreneurs, any area where excellence is a goal. Great strides have been made in the physiology and emotional aspects of achieving the “Flow”. A lot of this stems from tremendous strides in extreme athletic performance and the analysis of how this is achieved.

Important mental skills necessary to achieve success.

  • Attitude – Attitude is a choice. It should be positive (you become what you think about). View what you’re doing as an opportunity to compete against yourself and learn from your success or failure. Pursue excellence not perfection. No one is perfect. Maintain balance and perspective between what you are doing and the rest of your life. Respect what you are doing, other participants and yourself.
  • Motivation – Be aware of the rewards and benefits externally and more important intrinsically (feeling the “Flow”). Persist through difficult tasks and difficult times, even when the rewards and benefits are not immediately forthcoming.
  • Goals and Commitment – Successful people set long term goals and short-term goals and milestones (along the way) that are realistic, measurable and time orientated. You are aware of your current performance levels and areYable to develop specific, detailed plans for attaining your goals. You are highly committed to your goals and to carrying out the daily demands of your training program.
  • People Skills – Realize that you are part of a larger system that includes families, friends, your team, mentors and others. When appropriate, communicate your thoughts, feelings and needs to these people and listen to them as well. You have learned effective skills for dealing with conflict, difficult opposition and other people when they are negative or oppositional.
  • Let go of F.E.A.R. (false evidence appearing real) – People may fear making mistakes, fear of embarrassment or fear of worry related to poor results. They may also fear the negative consequences of their performance. They worry about many things that are often not under their control. EFT is one of the best ways to let go of fear.
  • Focus on Yourself not Others – Most intimidation in striving to achieve excellence is self-induced. These people are intimidated by their own thoughts.
  • Be Confident – Self-confidence is how firmly you believe in your ability to execute a skill or task. Confidence is derived from a baseline assessment of past performances, training and preparation. As your competency or skill mastery grows, your confidence becomes proportionately stronger. If you have high self-confidence, it is very hard to get anxious or tense, or worry about results.
  • Information Overload – Some people tend to overload their brains with too much information, more that they can handle at one time. Information overload or having misleading information sends mixed signals to the body. In this indecisive state, the body will not execute with the desired outcome, rhythm or “Flow”.
  • Self-talk – You will need to maintain your self-confidence, during difficult times, with realistic, positive self-talk. Talk to yourself the way you would your best friend.
  • Mental Imagery – Successful people prepare themselves by imagining themselves performing well. They create and use mental images that are detailed, specific and realistic. Prior to their event they use imagery for a final focus and when it is over to, recover from errors and poor performances. EFT can be used here to help guide you to as you visualize mentally the corrections to your errors.
  • Dealing Effectively with Anxiety – Successful people deal with anxiety as an initial step to achieving the “Flow”. Anxiety affects people both physically and emotionally and if it is maintained through a performance it will be detrimental. For performance anxiety perform EFT, relaxation techniques and positive interaction with your team. All speed and perfect movements are accomplished by relaxing antagonistic muscles.
  • Dealing Effectively with Emotions – Strong emotions like excitement, anger and disappointment are strong deterrents. to achieving the “Flow”. Recognize negative thoughts and stop negative thinking. Eliminate the writings on your walls. So much of the negativity we have is a result of outside influence. Recognize that your power is unlimited and it comes from within you.
  • Flow – Flow is a state of hyper-focus, essentially ignoring everything, externally and internally, not related to the task. Your goals become clear and achievable with this extreme intense focus. In Flow the ego, fear and self-referring thoughts are gone. Your eyes become relaxed, tenseness in the chest is gone and breathing becomes an advantage. You have power instead of force. Posture is open so energy flows freely through your body. People are creative in flow state, but also more creative the day after the flow state. Flow is that optimal state of consciousness where we feel and perform our best. Concentration becomes laser focused as everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Our sense of self and self-consciousness completely disappear. Time slows or speeds up.

Flow is caused by “transient hypofrontality” which is the temporary deactivation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). PFC houses most of our higher cognitive function (sense of self). Our inner critic goes quiet. Chemical anxiety (adrenaline) dissipates. Large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide and serotonin flood our system. All are pleasure inducing and performance enhancing with considerable impact on creativity. Norepinephrine and dopamine amp up focus, boosting imaginative possibilities by helping us gather more information. They also lower signal-to-noise ratios, increasing our ability to link ideas together in new ways. Anandamide increases lateral thinking, it expands the size of the data base search by the pattern recognition system. Taken together neurochemical, neuroelectrical and neuroanatomical changes in brain function provide us with an exceptional way to be more creative. A must read book, “The Rise of Superman” by Steven Kotler gives many examples of people who have achieved the “Flow”.


How to Use Inspirational Quotes, Set Goals and Think About Them Every Day

The inspirational quotes listed below are a compilation relating to sports and everyday life. What I suggest is that you read through them pick out your favorites and/or the ones most appropriate for you at this time. Write them down on a 3 X 5 card and post them where you will see and read them every day. Reading them out loud reinforces them better in your mind. Whether it is your bathroom mirror, your daily planner or the console in your car it is important to see and read them.

Goals are the same way, if you don’t have them you become a wandering generality. It is important to not only have them, but writing them down and posting them is so important. Reading them out loud reinforces them in your mind. Telling others about them shows your commitment. It is extremely hard to set a goal and just go out and achieve it. You need to set milestones and timelines along the path to achieving your goals. Prior to the 2012 Olympics, for a couple years, Michael Phelps had written on large sheets his goals and milestones for achieving them on large posters and put them on his ceiling above his bed so he could see them and go over every night before he went to bed.

Click Here for Inspirational Quotes for Athletes

Click Here for Additional Inspirational Quotes