So the first time I learned about the concept of "Flow" I was a sophomore in college taking a Positive Psychology course. I had this real hippie-dippie professor who wore the same mud green shirt and brown khakis for every class. He was one of the most genuine humans I had ever met, and all the students and I truly adored him.
One of our assignments was to determine certain activities that we did that enabled us to feel "Flow."
Flow: a mental state in which people experience complete immersion and involvement in an activity. Things seem to happen almost effortlessly and time seems to disappear while in this state. Athletes often refer to this state of mind as being "in the zone."
Back then, meditation was my Flow activity, then a few years later it turned to painting, statistical analysis, and yoga.
One of the hallmarks of flow, is that it needs to be engaging. It needs to have some sort of challenge to it. You enter into flow when your skill level, and the challenge level intersect. So, surfing now is my Flow activity.
For me, my goal as a surfer is to get bigger and bigger waves. But also, to surf more difficult types of waves. These two goals require different skill sets. As I push myself, my skill, and board types; some days I will be "in the zone," experiencing flow, while other days it will be clear my skill is not able to meet the level of the challenge.
Today was a hard day to really get into Flow state. I was on a board that I never really use, and it was 4 inches shorter than what I have been surfing. It was also a soft top that clearly was a little water-logged so it was also denser than what I am used too. So the challenge of today was very high. I never gave up, but I definitely didn't perform to the standards I have set for myself.
Being "in the zone" is an addictive feeling, so it was unfortunate that today I didn't get to feel that rush, but skill can always improve, so the more I surf, the more I will be able to get into Flow.
The interesting thing about surfing that I love though, is no two days are the same. Every time I paddle out into the water I go in knowing I'm going to give it my all. Some days I feel like an ocean Goddess ready to conquer it all, and some days I feel like a beginner who has no idea what's happening. But that's a part of Flow. You have to continuously face new challenges. You can't do the same things constantly and expect to still be able to be "in the zone."
So the days when it is hard for me, that only tells me that Flow state is right around the corner, all I have to do is keep pushing myself.