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How to create flow on demand

How to create flow on demand (tweet this!)

How would you like to enter a super-charged state of mind where achieving your goals effortlessly and flawlessly is possible?

You might think (probably wrongly) that something like that could never happen.

Well, I have some good news for you – chances are, you already have experienced this mind-state at least several times during you life and you probably didn’t even know it!

You see, for everytime you’ve taken on a challenging task and found it troublesome and a bind, you’ve probably also experienced a similar situation and actually found that you slotted into the groove very quickly and everything started to go swimmingly.

Its called a ‘flow state‘ when this happens, something that can occur quite naturally. But there’s some quite good news about this as well. You see, its possible to create one of these ‘flow states’ on cue whenever and wherever you want.

Really? How?

This is where NLP can help out. NLP (short for Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is a system created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s and was influenced by Ericksonian hypnosis. You may or may not have heard of NLP, but I bet you’ve heard of this guy: Paul McKenna. Paul is famous for being a hypnotist as well as a self-help leader. Although he might be well known for hypnotising people and getting them to do strange things on stage back in the 1990s, nowadays he is very much a leading light in self-development.  He is also now more of an NLP advocate rather than a hypnotherapist, and it’s largely due to his work that NLP has entered the popular consciousness.

NLP is basically a system which models excellence with the aim of replicating it in the minds of those to whom the system is taught. NLP has been used to coach people to achieve in a whole variety of fields, whether it be business, sports, academia or entertainment. In fact, NLP is very much about modelling the psychology of success (as stated by my friend and Master NLP Practitioner/Trainer Morgan Nunns.)

There are numerous exercises in NLP that can be used to help develop a powerful success mindset through the modelling of excellence. This includes exercises that can help you develop a flow state on demand.

One specific technique in NLP that can be used to create a reinforced state of flow is called ‘anchoring’.

Flow through Anchoring

Anchoring basically means securing  a particular mind state against an external physical stimulus. The stimulus can be anything, so long as it is suitable to create a subconscious link with the desired mind-state that can then be retrieved as soon as the stimulus is activated. The origins of this type of practice appears to be rooted in the famous ‘Pavlov’s Dogs’ experiment.

This experiment was conducted by the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov, who famously managed to create an association in the mind of his dogs between being fed and the ringing of a bell. Pavlov noted that every time he bought food to his dogs, they started salivating. The next thing he started doing was ringing a bell every time he fed them. The dogs then began associating the bell with being fed. As a result, they began salivating when they heard the bell. Finally, he would ring the bell on its own and this alone was sufficient for them to start salivating.

The stimuli of ringing the bell was effectively an anchor for the dogs, securing the positive association of hearing the bell ringing with being fed.

The human brain will act in the same way. All you have to do is create a positive association between the flow state and an anchor.

This is actually easier than it seems. In fact, all you have to do is remember vividly how it felt to be in a flow state (or maybe visualise being in one) and repeat this a number of times whilst associating it with your chosen anchor. After a while, just activating your anchor will be sufficient to cause you to enter a flow state automatically.

The ‘anchor’ itself can be any external stimulus, such as squeezing a thumb and finger together, clasping your hands together or squeezing an earlobe. In fact, the more subtle the anchor the better, because its something you can use easily without drawing attention to yourself when you need to give yourself a boost of confidence. (To illustrate the point, sportsmen and women sometime use anchors to enhance their performance. The famous England Rugby player Jonny Wilkinson used to clasp his hands together before taking a conversion or penalty kick. I’m pretty sure this was his anchor!)

Once the connection has been made with your chosen anchor and repeated enough times (bit like the 30 day habit!),  then the anchor effectively becomes a switch which instantly activates the flow state – just like flicking the switch for an electric light!

The end result is that you can enter your flow state on demand, whenever or where-ever you wish!

Action Step:

I’m not an NLP practitioner (yet!), so I’m not going to teach this technique directly on this blog. (One of the best ways to learn this is to find a good NLP practitioner is your local area who can teach you anchoring as part of a specific coaching programme. If you are in Shropshire, UK, you could try Morgan’s practice. Click here for details.) 

However, to learn how to do the anchor exercise yourself, try the following link for instructions on how to do it correctly:

Please feel free to add a comment if you’ve made use of this simple little exercise. How did you find it? What results have you achieved, if any? Would you recommend anyone else to give it a try? I’d love to hear from you!

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