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BRAIN MATTERS: THE FLOW STATE

Have you watched the rock climbing performance of Jyothi Raj popularly known as ‘Kothi Raju’ or ‘Monkey King’ at Chitradurga Fort without any safety harnesses?

You will be astonished to know that he is the only person to scale Karnataka's highest waterfall, the 830-foot Jog falls, climbing in the opposite direction to that of the flow. I am sure, his act of few minutes will leave you spellbound and wondering for hours together subsequently, as to how he can climb so easily and confidently without any safety equipment. Can we too perform the same act with such ease?

The answers to the above questions are hidden deep in the cranial vault i.e. our skull. For any skill to become our second nature it requires a dedicated regular practice for years. These years of practice makes the skill to get deeply implanted in the brain’s neural network. Once a skill gets implanted deeply in our brain, it can be performed without any conscious effort.  This state of indulging in any act without conscious thought is called as “flow”. Athletes, for example, stretch beyond the limits of their capacity, when they get into the flow mode.

When a person gets into the flow mode, they avoid any conscious thoughts (Is this task risky?  Do I really need to get into this task? Will I be able to finish it without any injuries?)

As per David Eagleman- neuroscientist, teaching at Stanford University, when a person is in the flow mode, the brain enters the state of hypofrontality, meaning decreased blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain which is responsible for thinking emotional, and behavioural functioning. This state can make a person indulge in daring acts which under normal conditions he wouldn’t dare to do.

When a person gets into the flow mode, he gets completed involved in what he is presently doing fully losing track of time and without any sense of self-worries and realities of life.

Some neuroscientist opines that sometimes it is better to keep our conscious brain aside as our unconscious brain can perform at a speed that conscious mind can’t replicate.

Prakash Prabhu
[ Mr.Prakash Prabhu works for The Manipal Group as a Senior HR Manager with over 15 years of corporate experience. He has been the lead writer and contributor to CHIRP magazine. (An intra-Manipal group monthly employee magazine) An avid reader who devours one book after another, Mr.Prabhu is also a certified handwriting analyst.]
 

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