The flow-state is the realm of optimal thinking in which a person becomes fully immersed in the activity they perform; experiencing energized focus, total engagement and assured success. Proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the positive psychology concept of Flow has been widely referenced across a variety of areas, especially in relation to sporting performance.
The concept of ‘being in the zone’ when playing golf is in keeping with Csikszentmihalyi’s description of the flow experience, and theories and applications of being ‘in the zone’ and their relationship to competitive advantage on the golf course, are topics now widely studied in the field of golf psychology.
For thousands of years, practitioners of Eastern disciplines such as Buddhism and Taoism have honed the development and application of the quiet mind to overcome the duality of self and object; in other words, being immersed in an activity rather than feeling separate from it. Eastern philosophy has developed a very thorough and rigorous set of practices for this very purpose, including seated meditation (Zen), breathing meditations (Chi Kung) and various forms of ‘moving meditation’ such as Tai Chi – all of which are proven to enhance the experience of flow.
The flow-state or ‘zone’ is a realm of awareness that enables athletes to surpass technique and achieve extraordinary results; oftentimes with seemingly little effort. In all sports, from golf to tennis, cricket, running, football - athletes have long-commented on the feelings of relaxed power, confidence, guaranteed success and effortlessness experienced while in this state; the flow-state is so-called because Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s 25 years of research into the phenomena noted the language used by those who had experienced this altered state of awareness, as they described their thoughts and movements ‘moving naturally like a river in flow’, and allowed for total immersion in the activity they were engaged in.
It is interesting that Zen Buddhist Monks describe a similar state-of-mind achieved through the practice of meditation, where thoughts become quieter, ‘flowing like a river’ in the back of the mind.
Achieving this mental state in sports is the surest way to guarantee peak performance, particularly during competitive play and in seeking ways to help achieve the best possible performance under pressure.
Why not take my online course ‘The Missing Link in Golf’s Mental Game’ and experience the zone/flow for yourself?
Watch a short preview from Lesson Two: Relaxed Concentration
Here’s what my students have to say about the training:
“Hi Jayne, I have watched your three videos a number of times and have been working at making breathing a central part of my swing. After at least 6 years of trying, I at last won a Medal competition last week. This note is to say ‘thank you Jayne”. – Kay, 19 handicap
“Jayne very clearly shows that top golfers are not actually experiencing ‘adrenaline rush’ when they start hitting the ball further than usual in the heat of competition. In fact, they are in the flow-state of meditation or ‘the zone’…Jayne provides clear instructions…that will help beginners as well as experienced meditators develop their practice. Her programme is my secret weapon…“ John, 4 handicap