Living with FLOW
FLOW highlights the power of being fully engaged in a pursuit and the psychological benefits of balancing ones perception of challenge and skill. This state induces optimal cognitive activity and focus on a task, which is applied to recovery in the context that a fully engaged experience is one that does not require a damaging and progressively addictive substance.
Flow was developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in an effort to define the feelings of optimal performance experienced by individuals that were fully engaged in an activity. This state of being is produced when the ego centers of the brain shut down and the individual becomes “one with the moment”. Humans are fairly fragile creatures, especially when everything around us provides examples of how we should be stronger, faster, more attractive, or wealthier. When one enters Flow, all of that noise fades away and it is a pure experience.
People that experience Flow often use the term “being in the zone” to describe the experience; the concept of time fades away, decisions seem to happen automatically, everything falls in to place just as it should. When someone is “in the zone” they have found the balance between their perception of the challenge in front of them and their perception of the skills they possess to meet that challenge. Perception is an important factor of this balance because often an individual can perceive a challenge as being too great or their skills being too low when in fact they are not. Until that individual becomes fully aware of the reality of the situation they will not find Flow even when it is possible.
While Flow is most often described in the context of high risk activities like action sports such as rock climbing or sky diving it can be experienced in much simpler pursuits as well. It all depends on the individual finding their personal Flow in the moment. At Brighton Recovery Center our Recreation Therapy program is designed to help individuals find Flow in everyday activities they can then reproduce in their own lives in recovery. When one can find Flow in something as simple as bowling with friends or being at a museum and experiencing all it has to offer, they can access those experiences much easier and with less risk of harm to themselves.