Reaching the amazing Flow-state in Freediving is the ultimate experience. Freediving is not all about risks,  extreme performances, or even watching marine life. Freediving, like other extreme sports,  can actually bring you joy and make you happy. This is attributed to the Flow. 

Flow is the mental state in which a person performing an activity in freediving is fully immersed in what they are doing. Remember the last time you arrived at the bottom plate without even noticing?  Likely, you wondered how time flew by so fast.

When you are freediving, time perception feels different. The dive becomes effortless, and the productivity is optimal. This gives a good feeling, with the body and brain receiving instant benefits of managing stress and anxiety. Flow is reached primarily in activities and sports where risks are involved, requiring an intense focus to fulfill the action. Therefore, Flow is inherent to extreme sports such as base-jumping, highlining, rock climbing, as well as freediving.

Flow was first studied and named by a psychologist from Hungary, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. According to him, Flow is a way to reach happiness, which is why those who experience it just keep going. “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”.

Though Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi may have been the first to describe this concept in Western psychology, he was most certainly not the first to quantify the concept of Flow. Eastern spiritual practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Sufism have developed a comprehensive and holistic set of theories around overcoming the duality of self and objects, similar to what you experience while practicing extreme sports.

More recently, some studies were conducted on slackline practice (the line you set up between two points to walk and jump on it) in the French Alps by two researchers from Nice University, Marion Fournier and Rémi Radel. This study helped demonstrate the principles of Flow:

Flow is a kind of trance you enter, similar to the one the Buddhist monks experience. This quasi-meditative state makes the surroundings and the worries fade, giving a different perception of time. One minute is only a moment that passes with no beginning and no end as we perform the action. Therefore, 10 minutes on the slackline can feel like an instance or an hour. The same goes with diving. Thirty seconds or more of freefall can feel like a heartbeat.

In Flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled but energized and aligned with the task at hand.

The focus is on the action. A feeling of transcendence takes over, and you find your inner peace. Nothing matters anymore but the action, without particular awareness of this phenomenon. It is a kind of an escape from reality (but in a positive way in opposition to a destructive getaway that you can experience by taking some drugs).

The Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, explained: “I was already on pole, and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my teammate in the same car. Suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct; only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel.”

Does that sound familiar to you? Have you ever experienced what some refer to as a “perfect dive,” even on a PB attempt or a challenging dive which felt soooooo easy? You might have just experienced Flow.

To conclude, “Flow sports” allow us to escape worries and concerns, to live fully but healthily. So just keep practicing Freediving and other Flow sports such as slackline and rock climbing. It is good not only for your body but for your mind.

As my own reflection, the amazing freediving experience starts even before going underwater.  The incredible feeling of relaxation and being weightless is the ultimate enjoyment in Freediving.  At Camotes Freediving, we promote an approach where you feel good and always enjoy – and that’s the whole point of doing freediving!


Sources :
Sciences et Avenir
Mihaly Csikszentmihályi (1990), Flow : The psychology of optimal experience
Young, Janet A. & Pain, Michelle D. “The Zone: Evidence of a Universal Phenomenon for Athletes Across Sports”