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How to Get Into a Flow State in Two Minutes

How to Get Into a Flow State in Two Minutes


Do you struggle to get into a flow state and stay focused on one task at a time?

Most people live in a state of constant distractibility, their attention adrift. We’ve accepted this way of being as “normal” – a byproduct of the human brain.

Eh, yes and no!

There’s no doubt that the reptilian part of the brain – the brain stem, amygdala, and so forth produces most of the fight-or-flight responses and that these may interrupt attention. The epigenetic toll of living among wild beasts and aggressive neighbors did little to help.

While some automaticity of the brain and mind is indeed innate (“programmed,” if you will), we can train ourselves to become much less susceptible to its pull. The problem? Most people don’t know this fact. As a result, their life’s experience consists mainly of being on ‘autopilot’ – driven by impulse and whim.

Something even scarier: most people were on ‘autopilot’ before all of these distractions, gizmos, and gadgets became so ubiquitous.

Meet the Father of Modern Psychology, William James

William James, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Psychology,” was the first to write of attention in his masterwork, “The Principles of Psychology,” published in 1890.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. James had little good to say about the state of most people’s attentional faculties:

“[Humans] all know of this state (distraction) … even in its extreme degree. Most people fall several times a day into a fit of something like this: The eyes are fixed on a vacancy, the sounds of the world melt into confused unity, the attention is dispersed…”

In other words, blank stares, inability to listen, and scattered thoughts. Sound familiar?

Little has changed in 130 years. Fast-forward to present-day, and our attention is as “dispersed” as ever. Sit at a café and see how many people are staring blankly at their smartphone.  Go to a restaurant and see how many children fail to get the notice of their parents.

It shouldn’t needn’t be this way. You can sharpen your attentional faculties – and become as “laser-focused” as you want to. So says the latest scientific research.

Excited? You should be! Mr. James would be thrilled, remarking in his book that education in attention would be “an education par excellence.”

Now, if dispersed attention is one end of the mental state spectrum, then ‘flow’ – a term coined by famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – is its polar opposite.

We’re going to talk about the flow state – and how you can get into it in as little as a couple of minutes. We’ll use the latest and greatest in scientific research and a favorite brain hack to help get us there.

Let’s briefly discuss why attention is so crucial to our happiness.

First Thing’s First: Attention Determines Our Reality

“For the moment, what we attend to is reality.” ~ William James

Read the above quote a couple of more times, slowly.

Did you read it? Good. Try memorizing it – because it’s that important to your life.

James’ words aren’t mere platitudes or useless hyperbole. In just nine words, the father of modern psychology explains why attention is of critical importance. The people, places, things, emotions, mental activity – anything and everything – to which we attend shapes our reality. And the quality of our existence – how happy we are – depends a lot on how we direct and sustain our attention.

Buddhists and Hindu yogis have known the essentiality of attention for thousands of years. In fact, many would argue, cutting-edge attentional training isn’t to be found in tech or brain hacks, but in meditation practice.

So, why not just learn meditation? Well, you can (and should, coming from a meditation junkie…the benefits are enormous!) However, unlike the recommendations provided below, meditation takes a while to get down.

But I digress.

What we’re looking for is a more “Westernized” approach to honing the attention. Something fast, efficient, and accessible.

But what would fit such a bill?

Enter binaural beats.

The Science of Binaural Beats

“…Binaural beats appear to improve the related processes of memory and attention. The same meta-analysis that found significant effects on anxiety also reported medium-sized effects on different kinds of memory, both short- and long-term.” ~ Seth J. Gillihan, Ph.D. (Source)

Binaural beats work by exposing both ears to slightly different frequencies. The difference between these frequencies enters the brain as a pulse. For example, if the rhythm you hear in your left ear is 140 Hertz (Hz), while in the right ear, it’s 100 Hz, your brain will perceive a 40 Hz pulsation.

Your conscious mind won’t detect the difference, but your brain certainly will, and, as a result of the beat exposure, will “shift” how it is operating. How it shifts depends, among other things, on the beat’s frequency.

train brain stop worrying

Here’s a list of frequencies and their known cognitive correlations:

Brainwave Frequency Cognitive Effects
Delta 0.5-4 Hz Sleep, Comatose
Theta 4-8 Hz Deeply relaxed, inward focus
Alpha 8-12 Hz Very relaxed, passive attention
Beta 12-35 Hz Low-End: External attention, relaxation. High-end: Anxiety-dominant, active (potentially overactive)
Gamma 35-50 Hz High-level information processing, high focus

(Source)

It must be reiterated at this point that properly produced binaural beats are scientifically sound (see this 2019 metanalysis, published in the journal Psychological Research for one of the latest examples.). Even the most skeptical studies document that binaural beats produce advertised brainwave frequencies.

(Sidenote on scientific criticism of binaural beats: The rub lies with mainstream science’s rejection of subjective “feeling states,” claiming that these are neither reproducible nor observable. Binaural beats are just one of the punching bags of materialistic scientists, joining such practices as meditation and mindfulness. Apparently, it doesn’t matter to some scientists that millions of people attest to the difference that these practices have made in their personal or professional lives. Oh, and the thousands upon thousands of scientifically rigorous studies that have been done on meditation and mindfulness.)

sixth sense
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‘Flow’ and Binaural Beats

“In positive psychology, a flow state … is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process or activity.”  ~ Wikipedia (Source)

Provided that binaural beats induce a shift in the brain’s operation, and that flow is a brain state, it stands to reason that binaural beats can help to encourage flow.

A word about the task of choice. You can’t enter a flow state if the difficulty of the work exceeds your ability to perform it. You must choose an activity where there’s a balance between both variables. The task should be challenging enough to demand your full attention to the point that it pushes your capabilities but doesn’t exceed them. Easy jobs aren’t going to get you in a state of flow, either.

It’s also much easier to enter a state of flow if the task is, at worst, one that evokes neutral feelings. It’s much more challenging to enter a flow state if you hate the job. (Binaural beats will probably help you stomach the job, however!)

Here are the components for the flow experience for your reference:

The conditions of flow

The balance between challenge and skill
Clear goals and feedback

The subjective states of flow

Intense concentration
Merging of action and awareness
Loss of self-consciousness
Strong sense of control
Distortion of the temporal experience (“losing track of time”)
Experience of intrinsic reward (from the concentration itself)

(Source)

Okay, so you’ve found the task to be completed. You’ve got your (stereo!) headphones and are eager to get in the flow. What now?

Now you’ve got to choose the right beat. Remember, binaural beats produce a pulsation in the brain of a specific frequency. We’ve got a beat that falls somewhere along the wavelength frequency experienced in the state of flow.

The Brain Waves of a Flow State

Research shows that flow states produce brainwaves between 12.5 and 15 Hz, also known as Sensorimotor Rhythms (SMR). SMR is associated with numerous beneficial conditions of mind and body, including:

– Physical and mental calm

– Non-impulsivity

– Heightened external awareness

– Increased energy levels

– Flow states

– Promotion of healthy sleep patterns

Clinicians who specialize in brainwave therapy, or neurofeedback, induce SMR levels to “assist with concentration, reading speed and energy levels as well as for help with epilepsy, ADHD, insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress, and autism.” (Source)

As the range of 12.5 to 15 Hz is borderline-Alpha, you may find that listening to a beat in the Alpha wavelength may help with more easily sustained attention and, ideally, flow. As everyone’s brain is different, it’s impossible to prescribe a narrow set of wavelengths that will work for everyone.

Final Thoughts on Reaching Your Flow State

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you try to reach a flow state? Give binaural beats a shot! You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain!

Entertainment

Sunshine State Fun: Top 5 Things To Do In Florida

Sunshine State Fun: Top 5 Things To Do In Florida


Sunshine State Fun: Top 5 Things To Do In Florida

Did you know that in 2017, Florida had over 118 million tourists visit from other states and countries? 

The sunshine state is full of wonders and fun things to do, especially in Orlando and along the coast.

Although Disney is a large attraction in Florida, there are many other places that you need to check out while in the state. 

Continue reading to discover the top 5 things to do in Florida, whether you are with your family, friends, or significant other! 

1. Relax in the Florida Keys

If you are heading to Florida and enjoy the sun, sand, and water, the Florida Keys may be just what you are looking for!

The Florida Keys are often considered America’s Carribean due to its impressive islands, coastlines, and water. Pack your swimming trunks, sunscreen, and water because the Keys are calling your name.

Going to the Florida Keys will be an amazing opportunity for you to unwind and take a step aside from the crazy world of work. Not only will you have an amazing view of the water, but you can also pack your fishing gear to take a trip and even check out guided tours in the area.

2. Check out the Everglades

In 1947, the Everglades became the second largest national park in the United States, just behind Yellowstone.

The Everglades consists of 1.5 million acres filled with marshy lands and swamp areas. If you enjoy boating trips, there are many tours that you can join while visiting. Be sure to grab your camera and be prepared to see wildlife that you may not normally be exposed to. 

One of the more interesting facts about the Everglades is that nowhere on the Earth has the same type of ecosystem, making it a unique and educational trip. 

3. Have Fun at Universal Studios

Going to Universal Studios can be a fun trip for families.

Both children and adults will be able to enjoy the rides and attractions that Universal has to offer. This theme park is based on some of the most popular movies that your family has seen and includes areas for shopping and eating.

Universal Studios consistently offers a variety of entertainment that can introduce you to different cultures and music. 

4. Party at Miami Beach

There are many things to do in Florida and checking out the Miami Beach is one of them! 

Those who aren’t able to travel all the way down to the keys can visit Miami for some fun can go onto this island that the beach is on, it is located just off of the mainland and is easy to travel to. 

The beach provides the perfect chance for you to party and relax under the hot summer sun. If you end up getting too much of the heat you can always check into one of the many hotels or get delicious food on Ocean Drive. 

5. Daytona 500

If you are planning to visit Florida in February, going to the Daytona 500 race can be a fun activity to do with the family or friends. 

Every year in February the Nascar season begins with the Daytona 500, which is one of the biggest races in the series. If you enjoy watching races and want to try something different than going to a traditional sporting event, Nascar is the way to go.

If you are heading out to the race you should pack extra sunscreen, personal fans, and ways to cool down. The track and racecars make the surrounding areas much warmer. 

6. Visit Coral Castle

Looking for a fun and historical trip to Florida?

Homestead, Florida is home to one of the biggest tourist attractions around— Coral Castle. In 1923, a man named Edward Leedskalnin singlehandedly began building the famous Coral Castle with over 1,000 tons of stone.

It is almost a mystery how one man could do all of this work on his own, and much of it was accomplished during the middle of the night making it even more impressive! 

Florida Travelling Tips

Planning a trip to Florida can easily become expensive because of all of the amazing attractions. 

If you are tight on cash, you can read about personal loans to help fund your next family trip. This will also give you the opportunity to come home with a little extra cash than you were expecting.

It is extremely important to check the weather before packing and leaving for Florida. In the summer, Florida tends to get extremely hot and humid, making a perfect setting for storms.

Going to Florida from June through November you may run a higher risk of dealing with heavy tropical storms since it is hurricane season during this period. It is also important to watch out for wildlife that you may not be familiar with at home, such as crocodiles, sharks, snakes, and even spiders. 

Enjoy the Best Things to Do in Florida 

Figuring out what the best things to do in Florida can be difficult and overwhelming, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area. 

Utilizing the list above can help give you ideas and places to go for your next trip. It is important to do thorough research on your activities and where they are located so that you can properly plan for your vacation. 

Don’t be afraid to explore while in the sunshine state. However, make sure that you pack plenty of sunscreens, bathing suits, and towels for your trip. Florida tends to have hot and humid weather in the warmer months on the year.  

Be sure to check out our blog if you enjoyed this article, to read more about how you can make the most out of your trips and vacations.