Top athletes know winning not only requires physical exertion, but a specific state of mind. Sports experts are finding there are optimal states of mind conducive to peak sports performance.

This optimum mental state is called “automatic flow” according to neuroscientists at the University of North Carolina. They describe it as a spontaneous, creative, intuitive kind of “high.” Time passes quickly, the mind zips along, grasping patterns and concepts with ease and movements are executed with precision and skill. Since automatic flow gives athletes a winning edge, sports experts are exploring the strategies athletes use to trigger its activation.

The neuroscientists were so intrigued by the possibility of the brain influencing athletic performance, they embarked on several studies exploring the connection. Their theory: By turning down the engine of the left brain (the analytical, decision-making zone) and revving up the right brain (the intuitive, creative, spontaneous zone), athletes can grasp new skills and concepts on a profound and potentially deeper level.

In one study, they asked 34 skilled golfers to attempt 240 12-foot putts and used an electroencephalograph (EEG), a machine which records minute electrical impulses generated by brain activity, to determine the brain’s precise role just prior to and during putting.

Their initial prediction was right on target. The better performers showed a significant increase in right-hemisphere activity immediately prior to initiating the stroke, while their left brains slumbered.

State of mind is not easy to discern. In fact, many athletes harness this flow of mental energy without even realizing it. The experts have discovered the peak mental state, unfortunately, is hard to describe.

Participants in the golf studies, for example, are often unable to remember what they thought or did just before putting. Many of the golfers replied their minds were blank, which makes sense because flow operates more on a “feel” basis rather than a verbal one.

9 Responses

  1. Jenn…most people don’t realize this is essentially a spiritual experience occurring when we are free from self conscious effort but instead allowing a higher and more intelligent energy to move our body…unfortunately it is not identified and developed as part of our early education..thanks for visiting again…Sid

  2. Carol…being a sprinter is an excellent way of experiencing “flow zone”…it is such an extraordinary experience memories of it can be easily recalled along with a yearning to repeat it…Sid

  3. Wow, I have had the same experience in 6th grade on field day. I was in my zone so deeply that I just remember looking back and seeing everyone so far behind me. I had a drug like feeling, almost a slow motion feeling. I felt like everyone was running with heavy legs and I was flying as if my feet never touhed the ground. Only those who have experienced this, knows exactly what we are talking about.

  4. I was a sprinter. The first race ever, I had earned the record time for my high school. I just remember starting out, and looking back once, and wondering what everyone else was doing way back there.

  5. Hi Jenn…these comments have now been posted on a separate page titled Automatic Flow 2…Sid

  6. I left out something important. your environment has a frequency (a level of energy) that you can feel inside your subconcious self (right brain). if you can blend your frequency with it and make it the same (share the rhythm) then your energy will become interchangable with the environment making you “one” you are channeling your common denominator. Once this happens you are no longer defying the laws of nature/ the laws of the universe. your energy and your environments energy are blended with no boundaries blocking or separating them. When this happens, what ever you do can’t deviate from your intention because your intention is the same as the environments intention and it can only bring one outcome…the shared, perfectly calibrated, insync, harmonious byproduct/result …..The home run, the touch down, the hole in one, the perfect pitch the through the hoop……The intended goal. If you through one ball it can only end up in one place. If the enviroment and you have one intention then it has to end up there. so for those who like math; human + envirornment + syncrinization of frequency + focused intention = conception of intention. If you drop one of these the outcome changes. jen

  7. Sid, I have so much to say on this subject. I love the monkey analogy. As a child, all my family members refered to me as just that; “a little monkey” I was athletic,small and swung from trees and ropes and anything else i could climb with the greatest of ease. Every aspect of my body moved to the vibration/frenquency of the “beat” of the particular environment I was sharing in that moment and more importantly; the beat of the action we were sharing.When I climbed a tree, I never felt like there is this tree and I will climb it. I always saw the tree as a playmate. The tree and I were sharing something; it was a joint effort. some trees enticed me (i was drawn to them as if they were calling me). i never thought about what branch should i grab. I just was “one” with the tree and propelled forward.
    I want to explain this “Automatic flow” in a way that EVERYONE can understand and identify with because i feel it is really important for everyone to know that they too have this capability built in as a birthright.
    Let’s start with our 5 senses. These senses aren’t really tangable but because we are conciously aware of them and because they are available to us we feel like they are tangable. we are able to guide our selves through life and often away from danger because of and through our 5 senses. Now lets give an analogy that includes one of our senses; sound. Lets talk about music. music is heard. we hear it through sound, but we often talk about feeling music; feeling it inside our body. Those who “feel” its beat, its rhythm can often move to it, with it as if it part of them, inside of them….no longer separate or outside of them. When you watch these people dance you can see that they are indeed “one” with th music. their movements are calibrated and insync….in perfect harmony with the music. This we, as a race, can identify with…we can understand it…because we can feel it and see it. because our own concious senses are directly involved.
    Now, lets talk about “Automatic Flow” with the sound (a force/energy not to be seen or touched)of music; to which our physical bodies have the capability to move in harmony with; becoming ‘one” with the frequency of sound….sound with a beat…sound with a rhythm. Now lets carry that over to our right brain senses, which is still part of us but not part of our 5 senses. This sense allows you to “dance” to be “one” with the outside environment/with the world/with the universe. What if we could “hear the music” sort of speak…not with ears but with another sense? A sense called “instinct”. we often refer to this sense as the 6th sense. what if we could hear the music of the enviroment we are in; immediate (the tree) or wide (the forest) and bring it into our bodies, and become one with it? what if we can adapt our frequency to that of the music and dance in perfect harmony to it? Do dancers watch their feet. do they count their steps do they think about what they will do next? or do they just go with the flow of the rhythm? They arent “thinking” about the music, they are feeling it inside them; moving in perfect harmony with it.Their bodies adjust to the musics frequency. This is “automatic flow” The greatest Athletes with out realizing it, have the innate ability to dance with their immediate environment…a dance so graceful…so harmonious….so insync that they are called “naturals”. They are gifted dances…except their gift of rhythm isn’t to the sound of music…but the the music of their environment.
    I hope I was able to explain this theory in a way that EVERYONE can understand. Its not as hard as it seems, as I figured this out at age 4 but only have the vocabulary now as an adult to explain it. jen

  8. Hi Swan,

    These are fascinating examples of “automatics flow”… they are quite consistent with our natural intuition and the awareness of our subconscious right brain.

    One of the thoughts which could occur to me while reading your comment is the ease of monkeys swinging from branches without even looking at where they’re going…if monkeys can do this surely humans should be able to have the same power…

    I like your example of a friend climbing with hesitation and insecurity only to find her lack of trust causing an accident…. a more typical example is stage fright resulting in our inability to be relaxed and calm when playing a role.

    It is unfortunate that our social conditioning tends to suppress our natural abilities to cope when life’s situations… We we assume that our conscious powers are greater than the natiral intelligence of our subconscious right brain.

    A fellow Brooklynite,

  9. I know all about this topic. On the few occassions that I have read about it I wanted to scream out how its done. It seems those who realize it’s something, still don’t understand it completely. It also seems, the very athetes who channel this energy aren’t really sure how they are doing or that they are even doing it. I recognized it as a young child and figured it out as a young child. The first time I realized this ability (that everyone has) was bu accident. I had just turned 4 years old and my brothers were off at school. It was september and after spendind an entire summer amused by my brothers, I now was alone and lonely. I was annoying my mother and she finally said that I can go and ride my bike outside by myself as long as I obeyed the boundariee and rules. I was only allowed to go up to 4 houses to the left (the dirt road) and 6 houses to the right (Nickis house). I had no problem with the boundaries. I did though have a problem with the rules. The rules were that I had to stop at every driveway…look that no one was pulling out, and then go. I would just start peddling and I have to stop. (the driveways were on the side of each house and cars pulled out from all the way in the backyard. The houses were close to each other(brooklyn) and you didnt see the car coming till the last minute.This is why you had to stop and look. well I did it for a while but accidently went into my “stare”as my family still calls it today. The “stare is a form of meditation that I often do without realizing it and can do it on purpose too. While I am in the “stare” i am in a zone where all unimportant stimuli automatically disapears but at the same time there is an innate super awareness to only whats nessecary. My reflexes are perfectly callibrated with this state.I say it a state of “not thinking” but of “knowing”. Any way, I accidently slipped into this state while riding my bike that day. then suddenly i realized that I stopped abruptly by braking and grabbing onto the fence. clearly there was an urgency in my stop yet I did not do it conciously. with that, a car came flying out of the driveway really fast, backwards (teenager driving). I never saw it coming with my eyes or sound. I was in a daydream like state of not paying attention. At 4 years old. I held onto the fence and had a epiphany. I connected what happened immediately. I then realized that while in my “stare” state I had super human powers of “knowing”. that’s what my 4 year old brain figured out in a heart beat. And that morning I exersized that power, over and over agained. because I was so young I trusted myself and my newly realized power.
    What it is and how it works goes like this; onece we stop thinking and planing we are feel to feel instinct. where as thinking and planning are an “in the moment procedure” that has to keep changing to recalibrate what it should do next based on what your 5 senses are picking up as you move foward and continuously access your actions in the environment; the “staring”, the “knowing” already knows what you need to do, and does not need your 5 senses to continuosly report “the news”, therefore it see (without concious eyes) and renders you capable of preforming any task in perfect calibration. I become one with my surroundings and therefore move in perfect frequency and harmony with it. I am one with the laws of of the universe through intention.
    I was excepted at 12 years old to a JHS for the gifed and talented. My gift was atletics (sports and gymastics. I excelled in coordination. All coordination really is , is being able to be “one” with the background to which you are sharing your energy with. If you see and feel yourself as “one” with the ground and obstacles then you can’t conflick with them. I was nicknamed “The Swan” because no matter how hard the physical feat i always looks like I was flying through the air…propelled with no effort. It actually felt like that to. I felt light. I felt my output was effortless.
    One more example to share is; at about 12 years old I went with my bestest friend (a forever friend) and a regular friend to the neighborhood park. in the middle of the park was a delapidated old brick park house (use to be bathroom and first aid) it had a fire in it and was never repaired. all the older kids and teenagers like to climb in it like it was a huge dangerous jungle gym. I got to the roof which was almost completely destoyed; giant gaps that you could fall through (this was a high ceiling ,one story building)nail sticking out of wood planks that were rotting. copper roofing 3/4 gone because the teens ripped it off to sell. It was beyond dangerous, but I loved to climb and convinced my friend s to follow. once on the roof, it seemed imposible to navagate because you werent sure where to step. Some places looked sturdy and you would put the weight of your foot down and your foot would break right through and the roof would cave at that part. it took us forever to get to the middle when we realized that there wwas 2 ways off the building. one way was from where we came, but that was more dangerous now because we caved more roof in. it was not safe to go back. the other side seemed impossible too. we were trapped. I decided to do what I had learned to do. I began staring at the area where i wanted to end up. I said with total focused intention my goal of getting my body there safely and then without looking down, without thimking about where i needed to place my feet, I ran with total abandonment to logic. I trusted my subconcious as I had learned to do. i believed 100% that it would not fail me. I made it to the other side of the roof in seconds without a hitch.my friends started to cry. I ran back to them in full speed without a hitch. I explained to them what to do. I promised them it wwould work. I ran to the other side again to prove it really works. My best friend did it first. she succeeded. the other friend was more nervous. she did not do it right. she looked down to where her feet were landing. i told her to just look at the detination and run without thinking. she did not have that leap of faith.she did not believe she had that ability built in. she got badly hurt. her leg went through the roof. she sprained her ankle and got all cut up. I climbed down the building and went to ge tmy brothers and their friends to help while my best friend stayed back comforting our other firend and encouraging her to hold on. I realize this is just an email so i must stop, but i have a life time of understanding on this very thing and can explain it to all those who want to understand it. I would love to hear back fromyou on this one. Till then, jen

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