Every founder, CEO or entrepreneur has heard and likely experienced “being in the zone,” where concentration, clarity and effortless productivity “flow.” It’s the opposite of stress or the daily grind; it’s a place of peak performance and experience.
Long considered to be an elusive state that is found versus created, the idea of flow is seen by most as a mystical occurrence unlocked by athletes in fleeting moments or gurus who pursue enlightenment like a full-time job.
Fortunately, it’s neither. And it can be accessed in less time than a Peloton workout — with far greater results.
Defining Flow State
“Flow state” is optimal consciousness, the nirvana of organization and creativity, where productivity meets alignment. It’s the real-world, on-demand, optimal brain power for focus, retention and cognition.
Steven Kotler, head of Flow State Research Collective, a peak performance and training institute, says that flow is effortless and fluid, with an intrinsic motivation behind it. Emmy-nominated TV personality, futurist and filmmaker Jason Silva talks about it as the sweet spot between discipline and surrender.
How do you access it?
When people talk about creating or getting into flow state, or peak performance, it’s often described as elusive and methodological. It’s associated with the hallowed names of extreme athletes like Jordan or Gretzky, with musicians and Navy seals even tapping into it or as the result of psychedelic trips.
This begs the question, do you find flow state or is it possible to cultivate it? Fortunately, for mere mortals without the resources of Bill Gates or the morning routine of Tony Robbins, there’s a natural form of flow state that is accessible on-demand if you have the right tools. This is where breathwork comes in.
Breathwork: Unlocking Flow State
Breathwork is an experiential therapy that uses accelerated breathing to evocative music to access altered states of consciousness. While there are many forms of breathwork, a circular-connected technique of a double inhale and single exhale for 25 minutes with focused intention is most effective to access flow.
Breathwork allows us to tap into flow state because it oxygenates the brain, stimulating different regions so we can access the subconscious mind, the powerful storehouse that runs our lives. Our subconscious is the record holder of all the information we’ve ever seen or experienced in our life — our memories, beliefs, values and wisdom. It’s the real-world playground of the movie “Limitless,” and breathwork is the legal, free pill to access its wonders.
When we breathe into those different regions, we can create new neural pathways, creative connections and unique and intuitive solutions. When you have a focal point, such as an obstacle to overcome, a question to answer or clarity to find, and you intentionally breathe to binaural beats or to a custom playlist designed to stimulate different regions of the brain, you can focus on finding ideas to a specific intention, problem or project.
When you can control your breathing, get out of your conditioned way of doing things and activate alternate areas of your brain, you allow those connections to be made, tapping into your inner knowing and infinite intelligence. However, clarity isn’t enough, though it’s a powerful start. You must also have the courage to take action. The more you act on those insights shown through breathwork, the more you build your intuition and courage and allow the next step of the process to unfold.
Breathwork Versus Meditation
Breathwork is active and intentional. With meditation, you’re trying to quiet the mind and focus on stillness. With breathwork, you use a very active, accelerated breath pattern to stimulate oxygen and energy while giving you music and vocal cues to focus your brain. It creates a mental and physical change that feels focused, motivating and calm.
Applying Breathwork In Business
In breathwork sessions for entrepreneurs, we want to brainstorm on a specific project or read articles on a given subject where clarity is needed. Then, we use our breath and subconscious mind to pull that topic up to the surface. The brain makes those new synaptic connections, creating clarity, new energy, creativity, motivation and focus.
The results of being able to process emotion and challenges faster while gaining unbelievable clarity include entrepreneurs gaining insight on the next steps in business, how to scale, who to partner with and how to find a balance between their personal and professional lives. It’s powerful, fast and catalyzing when clarity is needed quickly, without relying on a business mentor or therapist appointment. When flow through breathwork is applied to a daily routine, it produces a creative momentum that is barely believable.
When you do breathwork in a team or collective setting, the entire group often feeds off the same energy and has a very similar experience. This can improve productivity, retention and collaboration. Corporate breathwork should be the tool of choice for every leader and human resource department.
To start, play binaural beats on Spotify. Grab a blindfold and lay down on your back. Begin to concentrate your mind on an upcoming project or task. Now, take a deep breath into your belly and your chest and exhale out of your mouth. Do this for 25 minutes and watch the clarity start to stream in. (For peak experiences, I recommend guided sessions by a breathwork coach specializing in flow state.)
Flow state is the optimal state in business and life, and every other tool pales in comparison. You can access this evolutionary space through breathwork, and you can get there in 25 minutes. Those 25 minutes, done consistently, can change your life, your business and unlock your ultimate potential.