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Access Your Mind’s Full Potential by Experiencing the “Flow”

Access Your Mind’s Full Potential by Experiencing the “Flow”

In life, you will meet people that live for a thrill, like base jumping, cave diving, or any number of other extreme activities. These individuals have an insatiable drive that pushes them to experience new things and push them to their own physical limits.

This state of mind allows them to have peak performance while completing a task. When experiencing this peak, one’s inner critic is hushed—this feeling is both powerful and addictive. To achieve this feeling, it takes more than a motivational speech, it is about the techniques that you can apply to your own life to lead you on the path that improves your performance and to experience the drive to dedicate yourself to your work.

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Experience the “Flow”

The human brain is capable of naturally replicating the effects of five different drugs without being put into a coma. When you experience this, you will access the feeling of being able to accomplish anything. This particular moment or feeling is known as “flow” and every individual may experience it without touching any dangerous drugs.

This optimal state of mind is experienced when someone is so committed and involved in their own activity that nothing else matters to them. It has been said that while only a small percent of the brain is activated when in a normal state, additional parts must be activated to achieve flow—the truth is actually the opposite.

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Parts of the brain shut down when in the flow state, ignoring the inner critic, complex decision making, and sense of will. This gives the experience of liberation, aided in the release of chemicals in the brain like serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and others.

Giving the Best Without Effort

Flow has been said to be the most addictive state of being, and whether you know it or not you’ve already experienced it. This is the times when you’ve lost track of time, had a strong sense of control, couldn’t simply stop a particular task, were on high alert, and your actions were effortless.

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Some people may call this getting into their “groove”, and it is actually true. Tasks are completed easily and the moments are genuinely being enjoyed. This is experienced by many artists, writers, and scientists. It is how they are able to work such long hours on a beloved project. This is also the drive that makes people risk their lives to take part in the extreme sports that they enjoy. You build up momentum and focus all of your mental and physical energy on one task.

The Triggers

Triggers can be psychological, environmental, creative, or social.

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  • You must consciously work with your mind to create a state of flow. Clearly outline your goals, to stay away from apathy. Request immediate feedback in order to stay in the flow state. If the task is beyond your skill set, avoid fear by finding the balance between your own capabilities and the task at hand.
  • Know that your own environment can either induce or reject flow. Say yes to taking risks, as you will enter a more focused state for survival move. New contexts lead to complexity, uncertainty, and novelty, allowing you to expand your knowledge and grow your skills. Be aware of your environment with all five of your senses.
  • Explore your own creativity. Link new ideas together to experience the sought after chemical reaction in the brain. Know that unfamiliar approaches will occur, and don’t be afraid to take the risk.
  • Socially, a group should establish familiarity to induce their own group flow. Let your ego go and be humble about the tasks that you accomplish. Your sense of control will allow you to choose the challenges that you overcome, and make you responsible for your actions, leading to a stronger focus.

Being in control of your own potential is vital in taking the path to experiencing flow. Varying flow triggers will work for each person, so find out what works for you so that you can not only enjoy your work but reach your full potential.

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Sasha Brown

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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