Have you ever been sitting on your surfboard in the lineup with everyone else, and then found yourself paddling purposefully toward the horizon... for no particular reason. Then the wave of the day, a perfect, crisp feathering righthander pops up from nowhere. You are magically in prime position. Everyone else scrambles to avoid getting cleaned up, while you serenely glide to glory. Why did you start paddling? Did your eyes actually see a bulge in the distance? Or did you just have a hunch?
Gut feeling is an amazing concept. What the hell is it?
The worlds of skiing, snowboarding, surfing, freediving and all such sports, are full of amazing tales of escape and glory. The common theme to many of these stories? Gut feeling. Intuition. The sixth sense.
Skiers veering right and missing a deadly avalanche. Freedivers sensing not is all right, and abandoning a dive. But its not all about danger avoidance and saving lives. Gut feeling has also been responsible for many a wonderful happening.
First time kisses, hidden powder stashes, uncrowded perfect waves, long lost friends, new friends, amazing sights and sounds and sensations... all have been experienced thanks to the wonder of our gut feeling and intuition, combined with the bold decision to follow one's gut. So what is going on there?
Well, its possible that we will never truly understand the phenomenon of our sixth sense. But there is a committed bunch of extremely smart scientists who specialise in brain wizardry who have tried their best to crack the code. And that code has a lot to do with flow states.
What does flow have to do with intuition?
Arne Dietrich is a professor of psychology at the American University of Beirut, and has a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience (check out this amazing Ted talks he did). Dietrich introduced the idea of two systems we all have in our brains for processing information- the Explicit and Implicit systems.
The explicit system is all about conscious awareness- it's a slow but flexible way to process information. It is rule based, can be expressed verbally, and is tied to analytical linear thinking, logic and reason.
The Implicit system is a rapid and efficient system that relies on skill and experience. It is unavailable to our consciousness and available exclusively to our subconscious. Decisions made from this system can not be verbalised. This system is about gut feelings, hunches, 6th sense, intuition- whatever you call it. Decisions made from the Implicit system are based on a "knowing" that is beyond words.
The connection between intuition and flow is that that both are rooted in the subconscious. Both are based on information processing by the same Implicit system. Let's take a closer look.
- Flow is a state that occurs when the right mix of focus, feedback, skill and challenge collide. When this happens, the mind slips into flow, and decisions are made rapidly and without thought- this is clearly driven by the implicit system. The result is a remarkable enhancement in performance. When in flow people report that their sense of time and sense of self are diminished. This is due to "Transient Hypofrontality", a phrase describing "temporary shutdown". In flow the part of the brain that processes time and personal identity temporarily turns off.
- Intuition/6th sense/synchronicity happens when people are highly attuned to their surroundings, when the analytical, thinking mind (the explicit system) is muted and the subconscious (implicit system) is turned up. This state is enhanced (in my opinion) if the person understands/knows the inter-connection of everything, that the separation between me and you is only real in one sense. On another level, there is no separation. This is not a weird mystical thing- its physics. People in this state can intuit things, they can sense things that fall outside the realm of logic and reason. They have a "knowing".
The Flow state- New school yet so Old school
The flow state is largely a modern twist on an age old phenomenon- the power of living through the subconscious. People who have practiced Yoga and meditation through the ages, have been tapping into this power.
The whole point of meditation and mindfulness is to still the mind to the point where our conscious thoughts can dissipate, like clouds parting to the blue sky of our subconscious. The power of subconscious has been known since the dawn of humanity, but now, it is probably more important that ever.
Unlike our primal ancestors, and unlike Yogi's and Zen monks of ancient India and Japan, we live in a society that is unintentionally sabotaging the way our brains work. Modern 1st world culture is pushing us further out of touch with our natural habitats.
Our educational systems (apart from a few notable exceptions) are mostly based on explicit system learning and linear analysis. The modern world seems to be driving us away from implicit system use, and toward obsessive explicit system informational processing.
As technology and distractions proliferate, our attention spans diminish and so with it our ability to access our subconscious at will. Ask yourself this. Does the average modern 15 year old reared on iphones, snapchats, sit-coms have a greater attention span, ability to focus that a 15 year old living 200 years ago? Have you yourself sensed your power of concentration under attack by the incessant distractions and devices the modern world throws at us? I know I have.
A very SIMPLE way to Find your Flow
Looking at flow this way highlights yet another awesome reason why we should all look to get more of it in our lives. Finding your flow state will regain some the powers you have lost over time. Each time you find your flow you boost your primordial power of subconscious thinking.
And this highlights perhaps the most simple and effective way to get more flow into our lives. SIMPLIFICATION. MINIMALISM.
By living more simply, with less distractions we can become more tuned in to our surroundings, ourselves and the people around us. And doing this we access our implicit system more frequently, and access parts of our brain that juice our life with flow.
Come learn how to get more flow in your life on one of our unique Adventure retreats. We do Yoga and Meditation retreats with a difference- action packed, adventure based, experimental, experiential flow state hacking quests!