Flow state optimization has become a hot topic in the world of physical and mental training over the past few years. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines flow state as when, “your skill level and the challenge at hand are equal.” To put it in layman’s terms a “Flow State” is essentially being in the zone. When nothing exists except the task you are performing. The benefits of flow state training include; accelerating learning and skill development, stress release, improved productivity. You can become in the zone with whatever you do, however, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai offer up incredible opportunities to reach a flow state much more frequently. To more effectively reach a flow state there are a few techniques we can all employ: leave the outside world at the door, practice, and challenge yourself.
Leave Your Distractions at the Door
It is very obvious that to reach a state of flow you must be extremely focused. To be focused you must clear away all distractions. The outside world can be hectic, many of us found a home in BJJ because of the escape that it offered. For one hour every day the outside world does not exist. The test, the presentation, the bills that we have spent all week worrying about stop at the door. BJJ naturally clears your mind of all external distractions. Being stuck in the side control or the mount of your training partner has a magical way of making the rest of the world nonexistent. The only thing in your mind is how essential it is to get out of the bad position that you are in. However, this does not mean that you do not have to work at clearing your mind. Leaving everything at the door is a commitment that you make with all of your training partners. A commitment to leave the outside world at the door and focus on training.
Reaching a flow state requires confidence in what you do. A flow state is the concept that you are doing without consciously thinking. You start flowing when your muscle memory takes over and everything melts away. Getting the muscle memory requires reps. You can not expect to show up on your first day of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and immediately jump into a flow state. This is when drilling comes into play. Training passes, sweeps, and positional drilling is the work that leads to the end goal of flow state. This is why we spend more time in each class drilling than rolling. A flow state can even be found within drilling provided that you are focusing. To effectively roll we must learn the moves. To be able to move without thinking we must first train, learn, and listen.
Once the work has been put in through the years of training and you are able to roll effectively you must challenge yourself. Challenging yourself requires putting yourself in positions where you may lose. Losing is an essential part of learning. If you are not losing then you are not learning. To effectively flow you have to find the crossroads between being able to work and try new things but also having to fight to win. The challenge is essential. Your training partners are crucial to effective training. Communicating to your partners what kind of challenge you need can fast track you to reaching the flow state.