What a great turnout for the CAWA Flow State Event held at The Stirling Community Centre on Jan 29th! And what a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the foremost experts on Flow State.

Huge thanks to Cameron Norsworthy for coming out to talk about accessing our peak state of performance and fulfillment – otherwise known as FLOW STATE.

In case you don’t know who Cameron is, here’s some background info. He began his pursuit of peak performance as a junior athlete in tennis, playing for England. He went on to study optimal performance and has gained a Masters and PhD in Flow. He is a TEDx speaker, an author, the founder of The Flow Centre, and has coached many world champions in a variety of sports, and numerous leaders from a multitude of industries. He really knows his optimal experience science stuff and at this event, he shared with us how to simplify the pathway to FLOW.

We were also joined by professional rock climber Hazel Findlay for a Q&A session from Spain!

You probably already know plenty about Hazel, but here’s a quick rundown just in case. She began climbing at the age of 7 and was British junior champion 6 times. She’s considered one of the best female climbers worldwide and is a mental training coach. Hazel has spent a significant amount of time developing her ability to access FLOW STATE and apply its benefits to her diverse climbing projects. She’s doing a very good job of it, too – have you seen some of the crazy run out trad stuff she climbs? I struggle to keep my head together just watching her do her thing, so I was super excited to hear from her, and so was the crowd!

Before we linked up with Hazel, Cameron took us through the neuroscience of FLOW, and how we can use the concept to create an optimal experience – not just on the wall, or in the gym, but across our whole life. Cameron pointed out that we have highly varied experiences in our lives, and we tend to think of our circumstances being responsible for the quality of those experiences. But in fact, we have the capacity within us to control how we respond to stimulus, and this determines what those experiences feel like to us – good, bad, stressful, ecstatic. Understanding the pathway to FLOW can allow us to access it under any circumstances.

Contrary to what we usually believe...the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
To kick things off, Cameron tried to kill us. I’m kidding, of course! He took us through a breath-holding exercise to show us how mental preparedness can alter our experience of a stressful situation. First, we breathed out then waited as long as we could to breathe in. The second time around, we mentally prepared ourselves for the discomfort we knew would come, with the instruction to relax into the sensation of pain in our lungs. The purpose of this exercise was to feel the fear associated with no air, and sit calmly in the pain, thereby improving the quality of that
experience.
After this head-spinning treat, Cameron went on to discuss what optimal experience is, the neuroscience of fear responses, and how it influences your experiences. We learnt that being present can go a long way toward generating ease in performance, and that changing your thoughts around your everyday tasks can help you find flow in the mundane – and this carries through to all aspects of your life.

Then it was time for the fabulous Hazel Findlay. The Q&A started off a little slowly – a bit of star-struck silence filled the room at first! But once everyone warmed up, and the Q’s started to flow (pun intended!), we uncovered a treasure trove of personal experience. Amongst other gems, Hazel shared with us how she knows when she’s in flow, how fear and flow relate to each other, and how the level of challenge in an activity has a direct effect on her capacity to experience flow when climbing.

After we said goodbye to Hazel, the questions just kept coming for Cameron – by this time, everyone’s shyness had evaporated – so he hung around for another half an hour before we wrapped up a very successful, fun and enlightening evening.

Thank you so much to Jiri Stastny for organising this fantastic event.

Deanna Whyte

Author Deanna Whyte

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