THE ART OF TURNING ?FLOW?
ON & OFF AT WILL
In Neuro-Semantics we have discovered how to turn the flow
state on and off at will. That?s what the APG training is
about. Turning flow on and off at will refers to the
requisite ability to step in and to step out of an optimum
state so that you can be absolutely at your best when you
need to be at your best with all of your resources
available, and to step out when that?s appropriate.
The Flow State. Csikszentmihalyi is the cognitive
psychologist who explored and made ?the flow state?
explicit in his doctorate dissertation on happiness.
Originally, he was searching for the structure of happiness.
Then, in the process, he stumbled onto the fact that has
been known for centuries. Namely, the best way to not be
happy is to pursue happiness! Philosophers have long know
that the direct pursuit of happiness is the best way to not
experience it. The best way to achieve happiness is to
pursue something that?s important to you, something that
makes a difference, and something requiring knowledge and
skilled which you develop along the way. That?s what
Csikszentmihalyi discovered?to be happy you need to be
doing something that?s meaningful and challenging and
something which is based on a skill?a competence.
Yet being happy is not something will happen immediately or
automatically. In fact, the opposite may occur. In the
immediate moment when you have a meaningful challenge which
may be at the edge of your competence, when you step up to
it, it will not ?easy.? Usually it is hard. Usually
you have to begin using all of your energy, effort,
knowledge, and intelligence to be able to do it. This is
true of running a race, playing chest, rock climbing, taking
on a challenging project, writing a book, etc. So
where?s the happiness? Ah, that?s the secret. The
state of ?happiness?(joy, delight, even ecstasy) comes
later. It comes when you look back on the experience.
That?s when you say, ?What great days those were!?
?I was the happiest when I was doing X!? The joy of the
experience typically occurs afterwards. Happiness is the
afterglow of a worthwhile attempt at something important.
In mapping this out Csikszentmihalyi used two
axes?challenge and competence. That generated four
quadrants and the ?flow zone??the pathway to flow
which involved integrating a challenge with the appropriate
skills. In Neuro-Semantics our Self-Actualization Quadrants
integrates this and extends it as we use the axes?Meaning
Stepping in and out. What NLP brings to the flow experience
is the phenomenon of a mind-body state?a state that you
can access, step into, and step out of. States are like
that. Comprised of a dynamic combination of what?s on
your mind, the condition of your body, and the emotions that
you generate from your meanings?a mind-body-emotion state
is simultaneously a state of mind, a state of body, and a
state of emotion. This gives us three ways into state.
Further, we can also distinguish states in terms of purity.
The great majority of our everyday states are mixed states:
a part of me is in a state of learning, a part is
preoccupied with work, another part is fearful of rejection,
etc. Very, very seldom do we access a pure state wherein we
are of one mind about something. A pure state refers to
being fully engaged with one referent. Then we are ?all
there??fully present. In that situation, we have a
laser-beam focus or concentration and that also describes
the flow state.
In early NLP literature, this was called a ?genius?
state, not because it raises IQ, but because it describes
the power of the focused, engagement state?the power of
being of one mind about something. That same literature
identified many of ?the prerequisites of genius.? And
that?s what we took in Neuro-Semantics to create the
Accessing Personal Genius (APG) training. Taking the
prerequisites of personal power, self-valuing,
self-acceptance, self-appreciation, ability to choose
one?s beliefs and suspend limiting beliefs, pleasuring
oneself in higher values, making peace with troubling
emotions, closing the knowing-doing gap, using the as-if
frame for generating new possibilities, setting high
intentions and aligning attention to one?s highest
intention ?we have meta-stated these genius requirements
into a single pattern.
The result? By custom-designing your own ?genius,? or
flow state, for a particular engagement, you can step in and
out of that state at will. Pretty amazing wouldn?t you
say? ?Yes, but does it really work??
I will tell you about my experience with it. Upon learning
and designing the pattern in 1994, I ran the pattern on
myself to create two genius or flow states. One was the
genius reading state, the other was the flow writing state.
That was 1995. Prior to that date, I had written a book,
Emotions: Sometimes I have them/ Sometimes they have me
(1985). That took me eight years. By 1995 I was still
working on the book that eventually became The Spirit of NLP
(1997). That only took five years to put together.
Then came the ability to step in and out of the flow state.
The first result: no more ?writer?s block.? None! I
wrote two books in 1995. And since that time have averaged
2 to 3 books a year, three to five articles a week, two to
three training manuals a year, and numerous Prefaces,
Introductions, and Chapters in other books. How do I
explain this sudden productivity and ease of writing? I can
step into the writing state, write for one minute or five or
for two hours, and then cleanly step out. Then, when I want
to step back in, I do precisely that and start again
wherever I was, even in mid-sentence, without any loss of
focus, attention, energy, vitality, etc. Now how cool is
that? Today (2015) I have written 54 books and counting the
serial books, 68.
The same can be said for other flow states: the coaching
state, the training state, the exercise state, etc. The
great thing is that when you can turn the flow state on and
off at will? it is there to serve you and your
engagements. You don?t have to wait around to ?get in
the mood.? You don?t have to do superstitious
activities like wearing your favorite yellow shirt or making
the victory sign seven times to get into state. You have it
well anchored in the physiologies of the state and so you
just step in.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
Neuro-Semantics Executive Director
P.O. Box 8
Clifton, CO. 81520 USA
Dr. Hall's email: firstname.lastname@example.org