Month: March 2015

The science of flow states and optimal performance

11% of us can regularly achieve a flow state.
When we achieve a flow state we are X5 more effective.
We can achieve flow states about 15% of the time. i.e for up to 4 hours of our working week.

The good news is I can train you to be in this elite 11%!!


Sweaty Yoga Flow With Tim Senesi

Yoga flow to get sweaty.

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Yoga with Tim


The Intersection of Flow (Optimal Experience) and Meditation (Contemplative Practice)

Here is the talk I prepared for University of Virginia’s 3 minute thesis contest.

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Our team is interested in learning how to promote flourishing psychological well-being across many contexts including family and business.

Our brain’s information processing can be divided into two major categories: explicit and implicit. Explicit processing uses concepts and symbols; Implicit processing is automatic and non-conceptual. For example, after you learn how to drive a car, your implicit system handles most of the mechanics of steering and shifting, leaving your explicit system free to chat with a passenger. That you can multitask demonstrates that these systems are mostly independent—assuming there aren’t any traffic surprises.

Anatomically, explicit processing mostly takes place in the neocortex while implicit processing is mostly handled by the limbic system. Both systems have a unique talent. The explicit system is flexible; the implicit system is fast and efficient.

These systems can work independently, but they can also work together on the same concern. Flow, the feeling of “being in the zone” while engaged in a challenging activity is one example. The contemplative practice of meditation is another. Both of these experiences share a common brain mechanism: first, explicit processing mostly shuts down, then the two processing systems, explicit and implicit, become synchronized. To investigate this synchronized state, I could study either meditation or flow. I started with meditation and am collecting longitudinal data from the Religious Studies dept’s Buddhist Meditation course. These data will help validate our new self-report measure. Self-report is not the most reliable kind of measure, but it is an important step. In the future, we anticipate two exciting applications.

Flow is already a hot topic in business because flow facilitates creativity. What if we could increase the prevalence of flow using contemplative techniques? So that’s business.

In a family context, we know that secure attachment is important for mental health. We are looking at using the flow framework to systematically cultivate the maternal, soothing side of our personalities.

In summary, a lot of work has been done on negative aspects of psychological functioning. A newer area, positive psychology, studies character strengths and virtues. We hope to contribute here by isolating the elements from flow and meditation that reliably foster flourishing psychological well-being in a home and work context.


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