If you do not get into a flow state when doing Qigong then you are not really experiencing the peak of the Qigong state. The masters I trained with spoke about getting into the “Qigong state”. One master told me he would rather have 20 minutes of a Qigong state than 2 hours of unconcentrated practice.
My objective with this class is to teach you:
- What is a flow state?
- Why a flow state is so crucial to your practice
- Benefits of achieving a flow state in your practice
- The ways that this flow state will benefit your entire day and life
- How to achieve a flow state with Qigong
What is a Flow State?
Definition of a flow state from positive psychology:
A flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.
Benefits of achieving a flow state in your practice
- Alleviate stress
- Razor-sharp focus
- Increase energy
- Improved performance
- Increased productivity
- Increase creativity
- Achieve a sense of fulfillment
- Accelerate learning and skill acquisition
The ways that this flow state will benefit your entire day and life
When we are stressed we oftentimes have increased cognitive load. By focusing on a single task or practice undisturbed we reduce cognitive load and thereby reduce stress.
Stress is one of the leading causes of illness in modern society. Many people go through their workday without feeling like they can keep up. They are not able to achieve any flow as they feel buried in tasks, emails, notifications, news, friends, and family messaging them. Feeling overwhelmed is becoming an epidemic in today’s society. We have a cognitive overload. When we are going through a struggle in life, one of the best things you can do is reduce cognitive load.
By tapping into a flow state, we get into timelessness. It is a truly freeing feeling. In my opinion, achieving a flow state is a kind of enlightenment that we can reach daily if we want to.
Why A Flow State is so crucial to your practice
In Qigong, we want to go deep. This is not a superficial practice. It is not an exercise like running where you can just let your mind go. To reach a deep state we need concentrated attention. To develop the deep awareness we need of both proprioceptive awareness and interceptive awareness we need complete concentration.
Now, this is truly difficult for many people in the age of multitasking. We are training our brains to do quick and easy tasks where we get quick wins. This sends a surge of dopamine that is rewarding for the brain. The downside is we are not able to go deep into a project, a book, or a practice like Qigong so easily anymore. Researchers have found a direct correlation between people who scroll through news and social media feeds regularly with the inability to read a book deeply without getting distracted or bored. Sound like you? The same habitual pattern can leak into your exercise environment. Just go to any gym and watch the majority of people do an exercise and then go check their phone or even checking their phone while doing their exercises. People feel the need to constantly multitask. We are losing our ability to focus deeply as we are training the brain for these short spurts of stimulation.
Getting into a flow state is a key method of achieving peak performance in anything you do from writing to sports, spiritual practices, investments, decision making, and even relationships. When you get into a good conversation with someone, it is getting into a flow state. Have you ever sat with someone who is constantly checking their phone? You can’t reach a flow state with them.
When you get deep into the movements of White Tiger Qigong, you lose the sense of self and rather are in a flow state where you really find yourself. It is exploring yourself.
During Primordial Breath, you can reach that flow state where the sense of self shuts off. These flow states are known to researchers as ways to shut off the neuro frontal cortex which has its sense of self. Athletes, Navy Seals, Buddhist monks, and others are finding this flow state where they enter an alternate perception.
In these Qigong practices, we need many repetitions focusing on specific details and then discovering others.
Keys to achieving a flow state with Qigong:
- Turn off all tech notifications such as smartwatches and phones or your tech in a different room
- No one should disturb you
- Block specific times of day for you to practice without any disturbances> Make a schedule and stick to it. Just as you have a circadian rhythm for sleeping your body will adapt to training at specific times of the day. The best times to get Qi is sunrise and sunset. Training twice per day will give you a fresh start to the day and training at sunset will be like a cleansing of the day and allow you to rest into the evening. This is adapting to natural cycles and rhythms
- Make sure you are not hungry or thirsty before training
- Use the toilet before training
- Find a regular training space that you associate with peacefulness and can concentrate. Just as your bedroom should evoke a feeling of peace and rest, your training space should evoke a feeling of training. That is why temples have specific training grounds. Dojos were created in a specific way to stimulate a training feeling. Create your own mini-temple or find a place outside that is quiet and secluded.
For your actual practice:
- Decide beforehand on your schedule
- Which form or forms will you do?
- How many sets and how many reps?
- Count your reps
Counting actually uses the part of the brain that we use when we are using when we feel worried or excess emotions. By taking over this real estate of the brain we don’t have the capacity for so much worry and rumination.
- An alternative to counting sets and reps is to practice one form for at least 15-30 minutes continuously. This means you have to pace yourself.
- Use prescription Qigong. If you are trying to tap into a more parasympathetic state, use a 40:60 ratio of inhalation/exhalation. This means you have a 4 count beat inhalation phase and a 6 count exhalation phase. This requires deep, concentrated focus and will get you into a flow state within 5 minutes or so.
- Get into a rhythm. Focus on developing a rhythmic flow
- Try a 10-15-minute phase of the eyes shut while training.
How long does it take to get into a flow state? It often takes me at least 5-10 minutes of practicing one form of Qigong to get into the flow state.
Add these steps to your practice and experience a whole new level with flow states.