Multi-sensational Attentional Capacity + "being in the zone"

I’m looking for some help on “being in the zone” as is a term in positive psychology, and I think imagination can help us achieve “being in the zone” and feeling as though we are in a state of focus and everything in the mind is aligning and clicking

I’m looking for people experiences here of “being in the zone”, what seems to induce it, and how it feels

Sometimes when we’re playing sports or anticipating something or expecting something or get lost in doing something, we can feel “in the zone”, and I’m really wondering how this can be brought out on a more regular basis

For me it seems to happen when I imagine the stimulus and the movement happening simultaneously. So if I’m playing “Simon Says”, when I’m in the zone, I’m actually imagining what doing what I anticipate Simon says, at the same time as Simon says it.

So if I anticipate Simon saying “jump”, and I imagine jumping at the same time exact tune that the words start to come out of Simon’s mouth, that’s totally when I feel in the zone.

It also comes to my attention that although moments and imaginative scenes appear to be multi-sensational, I’m wondering how much our attention is actually focusing on all those sense at once. Because I feel like under-the-hood, maybe actually just rapidly switching between various sensations in attention without knowing.

Okay, so let’s give an example. I feel like I’m seeing, typing, hearing, feeling, all at once right now… but actually, my attentional capacity is like, not really feeling all those things in the moment even though it “seems” like I’m in one unified “moment”. When I really start to pay attention to all my different senses, I start to notice how when I shift to a particular senses, I realize how much I wasn’t paying attention to it before, so if I start to notice the sound of fingers typing, I realize how much I wasn’t noticing it before.

So enough of that explanation of not noticing all the senses at once. The big point here: it seems that when we are “in the zone” we are seemingly in more than one place or sense at once. Can anyone confirm this a bit with their personal experiences? It can also happen when playing music – you’re hearing it and also feeling the movement of the body playing the music. So my idea of being in the zone is – you’re actually tuning into two/three different senses at the same time somehow? Just interested in other people’s experiences

I’m also wondering about the interference between attention to imagined senses and attention to realtime perceptual senses. Alright, so say I imagine a pink elephant – there’s three ways to do this for myself. One of them is to not really visualize a pink elephant at all and just know what is meant conceptually – that means my realtime visual perception was not interrupted. Basically, comprehension without imagination. The second way is to totally shift my attention for a split second to a pink elephant, then back to realtime perception. In that moment, there was for sure some interference. To some extent, I was attentionally blind to what was in front of me. The third way and very interesting is, you overlay the imagined pink elephant onto realtime perception. I noticed that, if you keep the pink elephant as transparent and static, this really works without any interruption. The interruption happens as soon as I try to imagine the pink elephant in different ways, where I sort of need to switch between realtime perception and new imagined images. Alright, now there’s one last thing I want to add that is fascinating: if you imagine a pink elephant in a visual loop, meaning some kind of repeated pattern which is not new, like moving back and forth, then you can do a pretty good job at overlaying that looping motion over realtime perception without interruption. I feel like I’m ranting here but this is all fascinating and that could be a huge boon to memorizing new places. Like say you go to a new house and want to make it a new memory palace, you might be able to play around with sense-switching between realtime and imaginative senses at each loci. There are a lot of possibilities

I remember reading the standard psychology text on this several years ago. I believe it was on the flow state.

At the time I heard that the best books on the topic and the more so driving force of the field were/was by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

The main point in regards to entering flow was :

With particular critical point to the perceived level of challenge.
I might re-read the text and give more specifics.

My experience, I have several times although not at will, been in the zone while thinking verbally. This means, whatever I was focusing on, I was thinking without breaking this flow state.

If I play some game and want to get into the flow state, simply paying more attention tends to work. If the game ends up in my expectation of myself losing or having to work harder to win, then I also get driven into the flow state almost subconsciously.

When watching anime I have often been in the flow state for several hours. While it feels like an instant and in reality is several hours, there is a loss of sense-of-self.

It might be interesting to make my own theory on this and run some experimentation.

As for :

This is an interesting point. For example it is common when playing all sorts of games to get into the flow state, even when the game itself is not interesting or difficult particularly. I assumed more that it had to do with attention, as with a simple game, if I focus on the graphics more intensively, I do get into the flow state more quickly.

All of these games have multiple elements from different senses.

1 Like

For me I think that relates to the flow state being emotionally stressed, excited, and calm. If I’m stressed and also excited about doing something right, time feels different out of the urgency of the moment. If I’m stressed and calming myself down at the same time, also time can feel different as being very sentimental and sensitive.

This is kind of like being in exploration-zone, like when I’m looking at Google Maps to discover places I never went to and being completely immersed in whatever I’m noticing for the first time. There’s definitely a “I’m amazed I’ve never been here / felt like this / seen this before” feeling. A huge ‘newness’ feeling.

If I just pay attention to still graphics without imagination, nothing happens. But if I pay attention to the visual motions and changes in positions of things, I feel more alive. Maybe it’s in the motion? Paying attention to something moving definitely gets me more focused.
Also switching attention between noticing graphics to making keypresses can feel more alive.

1 Like

I think that Box breathing can get you in the flow state,

It has got me into flow state every time I did it correctly,

You can find out more information about the flow state by watching small (7< minutes) of Steven Kotler about flow state(I think that he is the best in the world in Flow or Peak Performance),

I learnt about Box Breathing in one video and Stephen Kotler was there.

When I am in the flow when Speed Reading I see what I read,I hear what I read and I feel what I touch but maybe in my imagination as this is hard to describe it felt like another layer of vision whenever I used to speed read in the flow state(I used to do it by visualizing images)


In my game example I tested quite a bit around it. There definitely appears to be some subconscious switch, for example even if I am thinking about something else, I would get dragged into the flow state, if I was perceiving to be in a more losing position. At the same time, if I make myself think that the situation or game isn’t what I think it is, then this doesn’t happen.

It’s overall quite interesting.

I agree with this.


Definitely with the motion there is a lot more of an experience. I recall being in a kind of flow state without images once, so perhaps it is beneficial because it handles a common resource (attention). At the same time when a cube is spinning it doesn’t really put me into flow state.

Perhaps a good starting point is to deduce whether flow occurs due to a psychological or more physical case.

Interestingly, this brings me into a sort of negative flow state.
Where I feel as though I am in flow because I am operating below my maximum.

Maybe there are different kinds of flow.

1 Like