Finding flow on the trail

- Posted by Adam on June 15, 2018 - 

The concept of flow or flow experience as per Mihaly Csikszentmihaly describes the state of consciousness an individual may enter when being completely engaged and immersed in an activity. I became interested in the concept of flow state when trying to describe feelings about being present and super focused during mental and physical activities - notably while biking, skiing, climbing and music. There is something about having our senses working in unison that creates a feeling of timelessness and pure being.  

A mighty descent into the depths of the Valais, Switzerland

"As I soar down a mountainside letting my body find its own balance in turn after turn, my mind as clear as the cold air against my face, my heart feels as warm as the sun, and I attain a level of experience which compels me to return to the snow for more and more of the same."
Timothy Gallwey and Bob Kriegel (1977)

Csikszentmihaly states that flow tends to occur when an activity is balanced between perceived challenges and skills, as well as when the individual receives clear and immediate feedback. I think the immediate feedback from activities like playing music with others, skiing, snowboarding and surfing, using climbing technique to ascend a wall, biking over roots and rocks; these dynamic environments supply us with ultimate conditioning to reach this state of consciousness. Timothy Gallwey and Bob Kriegel have also published numerous books (e.g. The Inner Game of Golf/Tennis/Skiing) that study the psychology of sport and this mind-body interaction. 

Superb sections of trail, where the scenes are all too magical to keep your eyes focused.

Utah bliss

Turn turn turn, Julie skiing (taking all the lovely snow!) down Becca Colinta 2814m, Valais, Switzerland

"Our efforts are concentrated on what we must do to beat our opponent, and if we aren't winning, we aren't enjoying. But the pleasures of skiing lie in being totally involved, in the way we feel when the body is in motion."
Timothy Gallwey and Bob Kriegel (1977)

The continual conveyor-belt of objects, sounds and smells that stimulate our senses during a ride sets us up in a prime position to experience flow. There are so many tiny details that converge into one single swoop of noise. And the noise is a combination of sounds made up of these tiny details. 

Couloir perspective on the Grand Lui, Valais, Switzerland

A mighty traverse, Valais, Switzerland

Riding with a view. Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland.

Adam abseiling on the Stockhorn arrête, Valais, Switzerland.

Adam abseiling (type 3 fun...?) on the Stockhorn arrête, Valais, Switzerland.

As with well-being, flow relates to a state of consciousness. A benefit of flow state is a heightened engagement through increased self-awareness and well-being. THIS, this right here (or This Ride Here), is what it's all about.