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The Best Books and Research About Flow State

We’ve put together the ultimate resource for anybody interested in learning more about the flow state through books, videos, or scientific research.

The flow state is often called the key to unlocking the best of our physical and mental capabilities — making it a particular topic of interest for athletes, musicians, and more.


Getting into “the zone” or entering a deep flow state is associated with several benefits. These include greater focus and concentration, better sense of clarity, increased creativity or problem solving, and positive emotional regulation.


While the team at Healium has written extensively about the flow state and how to train it, we’ve also put together the ultimate resource guide of outside materials for those looking to learn more about flow. 


The Best Books on Flow State


If you are an athlete interested in learning more about the flow state to improve your game, here are three books on flow to serve as your entry point.



Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Anyone who wants to understand the flow state of mind should start with the man who formed the theory: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 


In this book, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses everything about the flow state — from what it offers and how it works to how we can control it. He breaks down not only how we can practice being in the zone in our daily lives but also how to use it more effectively.


If you enjoy this book and want to explore Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theories more, you may also check out Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.



Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

Author: Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal

This book by acclaimed author and journalist Steven Kotler explores how some of the top performers in the world, from the geniuses of Silicon Valley to elite Navy SEALs, make use of the flow state to further enhance their performance. 


Stealing Fire notably offers several techniques or methods on how we can unlock the flow state to improve our lives.



Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World

Author: Sky Nelson-Isaacs


Living in the Flow offers something different from our last two book recommendations. Instead of looking at the flow theory purely from a scientific perspective, Sky Nelson-Isaacs looks at the flow theory from both a scientific and spiritual standpoint. 


The author explores synchronicity and coincidences, intentional action and alignment with the universe, as well as taking actionable steps towards optimal functioning using theoretical physics and quantum mechanics.



Flow State Research Papers and Studies


There are numerous scientific reviews and studies that explore the flow state of mind. Aside from flow research papers by Csikszentmihalyi, here are a few interesting reads to check out.



The Neuroscience of the Flow State: Involvement of the Locus Coeruleus Norepinephrine System

Authors: Dimitri van der Linden, Mattie Tops, and Arnold B. Bakker


This review takes a look at how the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system of our brain may be involved in manifesting the flow state


The LC-NE is responsible for releasing norepinephrine, a chemical in our brain that helps keep us focused or locked on a target. The authors explore how the LC-NE system may help in unlocking flow states and guide future research.



Achieving Flow: An Exploratory Investigation of Elite College Athletes and Musicians

Authors: Roberta Antonini Philippe, Sarah Morgana Singer, Joshua E. E. Jaeger, Michele Biasutti, and Scott Sinnett


This particular research paper explores the experience of elite college athletes and musicians who have previously entered the flow state during their games or performances. 


The study analyzes not only how they got into the flow but also how they maintained and exited it. The authors also noted the differences between the flow state and focus of concentration for athletes and musicians.



Educational Videos on Flow

If you don’t have much time between training sessions to read books on flow, there are many educational videos online that can help you get started on flow research. 



Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness

YouTube channel: TED


The “Godfather of Flow Psychology” himself, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gave an illuminating TED Talk introducing the flow state. He talks about how it feels to be in flow and the state’s potential benefits. 


Additionally, he talks about how doing what we love or what we are passionate about helps us enter the flow state and ultimately provide lasting satisfaction and happiness.



How To Get Into The Flow State | Steven Kotler

YouTube channel: Mindvalley Talks



New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler gives a great talk introducing the flow state and how crucial it is in today’s fast-paced world.


 He discusses the origins of the flow state theory, how it optimizes performance, studies conducted on the topic, and flow state in action. More importantly, Kotler also talks about how flow is “hackable” or how we can get into the zone easier.



Develop A Peak Performance Mindset with Dr. Michael Gervais

YouTube channel: Flow Research Collective



In this video, Steven Kotler is joined by Dr. Michael Gervais, a published author and psychologist specializing in working with high-performance clients like Olympic athletes, champion sports players, acclaimed artists, and Fortune 100 executives. 


Together, the two discuss the neurochemicals that help create an optimal state of mind, whether pre-performance rituals or routines are recommended to get into the flow state, the importance of trusting your body work, and much more.


The Flow Research Collective YouTube channel also offers more tips, discussions, and flow hacks in varying lengths to further supplement your learning.



Finding Your Flow with Healium


A large part of getting into the flow involves training your brain in order to trigger the flow state when you need or want it. 


Healium is the perfect meditation app for flow training and triggering your flow state of mind. When paired with a neurofeedback device that captures and measure your brainwave data, you can see your brain’s electrical activity in realtime and work to influence it. This can aid in identifying your flow triggers and enhancing your flow state as a whole.


Learn more about how Healium works here, or see if for yourself in this video!

About the Author

Sarah Hill, a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered VR channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.

Written by Sarah Hill
September 1st, 2022
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