Mindfulness, Flow and Resilience

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Mindfulness, Flow and Resilience

Complete absorption in present moment awareness is a core aspect of both the flow and mindfulness experience 1. The development of mindfulness skills allows the performer to focus on what they need to, derailing ruminative thought that can distract them from present moment task demands 2. Flow is a natural occurrence and the more one forces it, the more elusive it becomes. The ability to anchor one’s attention at will in the present moment acts as catalyst to the flow experience 3.

The practice of mindfulness has been shown to promote a flexible mind 4, which contributes to the ability to adapt and adjust to changes in the performance environment in a fluid manner 5. Acknowledging, embracing and transforming the path of problematic thought, emotion and the physiological sensations accompanying them, contributes to greater situational and behavioural resilience 6. Mindful athletes are more apt to experience flow 7 8, and deliver when the going gets tough 9.

1 Swann, Christian, Richard J. Keegan, David Piggott, and Lee Crust. “A systematic review of the experience, occurrence, and controllability of flow states in elite sport.” Psychology of Sport and Exercise 13, No. 6 (2012): 807-819.

2 Gardner, Frank L., and Zella E. Moore. The psychology of enhancing human performance: The mindfulness-acceptance-commitment (MAC) approach. Springer Publishing Company, 2007.

3 Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, and Judith LeFevre. “Optimal experience in work and leisure.” Journal of personality and social psychology 56, No. 5 (1989): 815.

4 Moore, Adam, and Peter Malinowski. “Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility.” Consciousness and cognition 18, No. 1 (2009): 176-186.

5 Canas, Jose, Jose Quesada, Adoración Antolí, and Inmaculada Fajardo. “Cognitive flexibility and adaptability to environmental changes in dynamic complex problem-solving tasks.” Ergonomics 46, No. 5 (2003): 482-501.

6 Gardner, Frank L., and Zella E. Moore. The psychology of enhancing human performance: The mindfulness-acceptance-commitment (MAC) approach. Springer Publishing Company, 2007.

7 Moore, Bryan A. “Propensity for experiencing flow: The roles of cognitive flexibility and mindfulness.” The Humanistic Psychologist 41, No. 4 (2013): 319-332.

8 Cathcart, Stuart, Matt McGregor, and Emma Groundwater. “Mindfulness and Flow in Elite Athletes.” Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology 8, No. 2 (2014).

9 Röthlin, Philipp, Stephan Horvath, Daniel Birrer, and Martin grosse Holtforth. “Mindfulness Promotes the Ability to Deliver Performance in Highly Demanding Situations.” Mindfulness 7, No. 3 (2016): 727-733.