A Discussion Of “The Flow State” In Rock Climbing

Chris Sharma, met with “Mindful Living Ambassador” Mark Coleman (what an awesome job, seriously) to discuss the mental game of climbing. Now, while this video is hokey and new-age, it discusses a well-known phenomenon in sports of “the flow state” aka “being in the zone.”

Wikipedia defines the flow state as:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.

Visualization of success and determination is a huge percentage of what it takes to get the top of some routes. Other notable members of the climbing community, like Eric Horst, argue that the mental game is one third of climbing. How do you feel about the flow state? Have you ever experienced it while climbing? What does it take to get you into the zone?

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