Thursday, 16 September 2010

The orienteering flow

As an orienteerer you've probably have experienced a race where everything seems to fit in. Where everything seems easy and you just float between the controls. I have had that feeling, but only too seldom.

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, a Hungarian psychology professor that spent a great part of his life studying this phenomenon in many areas, identifies the following 10 factors as accompanying an experience of flow:
1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.
2. Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
4. Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)
10. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

And there are 3 conditions that are necessary to achieve the flow state:
1. One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals. This adds direction and structure to the task.
2. One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and his or her own perceived skills. One must have confidence that he or she is capable to do the task at hand.
3. The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows him or her to adjust his or her performance to maintain the flow state.

And I take a shot suggesting that this so called Flow may be a remaining capability of our "persistence hunter" ancestors that made our vulnerable specie to survive in a hostile world for so many years, transforming us in the Runner's specie. It's a theme that is physiologically and anthropologically so fashion nowadays and that may amaze you in the following video... isn't that guy in "the flow"??


Christian Teich said...

Hei Miguel. I am following your blog now a long time and you coming up with many nice thoughts and maps and so on. My conclusion for you seems to be, that you have to prepare yourself for orienteering with these 10 things for the flow. means- nothing is to difficult for you. Concentration is high. You must have the right image in your mind. And you must be not afraid of a competition. I read many articles about psychology in orienteering. You are a good runnner. You hace the capicity to be at the very top. The only thing you have to handle is the flow task. So keep on looking forward to the results!

Miguel Reis e Silva said...

Hi Christian, thanks for your comment.
Indeed, I think that my biggest problem in orienteering is due to not being able to find my psychological moment (in the graph, I've came from the "Anxiety", I'm passing through the "Arousal" and intend to pass to the "Flow"). So, I think that I'm slowly getting better and I consider a good signal knowing what to improve.

Moreover, this summer, I found a great help in the VMBR (visio-motor behavior rehearsal) that I think that has lots of potential with me.

If you have the orienteering psychology articles with you, is there any way to send some of them to me? Or to send the titles? I would be really grateful.

Maybe, see you Germany soon (I'll be around, in Austria, until January).
/Miguel RS

Christian said...

You can find some of them at the IOF page at the scientific journal of orienteering. Another one from 2008 is from Jose F. Guzman from Spain.

Miguel Reis e Silva said...

Thanks a lot! =)

Eugénio said...

Esse video é incrível... Não pensei ser possível

E eu que só tenho de entrar no carro e 5 mi depois estou a comprar um bife no supermercado..

Surreal como somos contemporâneos de formas de vida como esta