“Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases.” - Swahili proverb
Flow is rooted in this dimension of wellness. Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi is the person who coined the term and wrote about the process in his book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Mihaly states that flow is found when our well-developed skills meet a significant and interesting challenge. Remembering that this protocol is about what you do with your life-span, intellectual wellness is important for the development of your master-like flow.
The flow state can be measured as a frequency through an EEG machine, in which flow is found in the area of low alpha and high theta brain waves. What’s interesting is that the earth’s electromagnetic frequency originally resided around the same spectrum, 7.8hz, called the Schumann’s resonance. When we go into the flow state, it seems that our mind becomes resonant with the planet’s frequency. We are more connected with something greater than we know, and not just in the way that we know from day to day engagement, but through our mind-body frequencies as well.
What we are aiming for in this protocol is a challenge, so it’s important that we engage in the appropriate skill development practices so that we can remain in the flow. For you that may be practicing code, going to school for a chosen discipline, expanding your vocabulary, training your physical speed, cultural immersion, learning more about a hobby, etc. Having an optimal level of intellectual wellness inspires understanding of how you see the relationship between yourself, others, and the environment.
Referring back to the radio analogy, everything that engages with your receivers, our 5 senses, fuels this dimension of wellness. You must be selective about music, movies, books, mentors, and friends. Everything that fuels your intellectual wellness will be tuning your frequency to become more resonant with what’s being digested. If you have not defined your desired frequency, you will be pulling information from many different sources but never mastering any one skill. Fuel this dimension by curating your playlists, social media timelines, books, etc. to match your value system and your frequency statement.
Human history has indicated that we want to know all there is to know about the world, and although being a polymath is possible, you must focus your attention. You should specify what you want to learn, why you want to learn it and devise an achievable plan to learn it. There will be no lack of diversity in your learning even when focused. As you continue further into your discipline, it will be discovered that you will learn about many things related and tangential to your area of focus.
I recommend eliminating content that is not supportive of your desired frequency. As you see others’ broadcasts, it’s fine to pick up things that are resonant with your desired frequency, but be sure to get rid of what is not useful. The clutter keeps you trapped or confused about where you are aiming. A great series of questions to ask yourself here are:
Does this content support my desired frequency?
Does this content resonate with my values?
Do I feel productive after engaging with the stimulus?
Do I feel like I lost brain cells after tuning into this broadcast?
Open yourself to immersing in new ideas, cultures, knowledge, skills, and environments to start the tactic of practice in this dimension. This allows you to be more adaptable in issues relating to problem-solving, critical thinking, learning, and creativity. Below are practical suggestions for you to enhance your intellectual wellness:
Practice active listening.
Pick up a hobby.
Practice expressing your creativity by exploring different avenues of artistic expressions.
Curate your music playlist to filter unwanted frequencies.
Create your own curriculum to learn how to improve your skillset.
Visualization of a skill can improve that skill.
It’s important that you try not to overwhelm yourself and break your learning down into manageable time slots on your calendar. This calendar placement doubles as a record of your progress, so you can see how much you have achieved. The immediate feedback of this allows you to feel confident in continuing to improve this dimension, and most importantly, keeping you in the flow.
The moment you feel a plateau, you must seek a way past it. That plateau is what some call “writers’ block,” “being in a funk,” or “off beat.” It's completely fine for these things to happen, and you can always get out of these ruts. A couple of ways are effective exercise and taking a break from learning is a great way to refresh the mind while inspiring creativity. The break can be 10 minutes to a few days but never stay out of the flow of learning for too long. Finally, by incorporating meditation into your daily ritual, you can improve your concentration, memory, and enter into the brain waves associated with the flow state.
“Archive of Dr. Magneto's Questions and Answers.” NASA, NASA, https://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/q768.html.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Row, 2009.
Firth, Joseph, et al. “Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Hippocampal Volume in Humans: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” NeuroImage, Academic Press, 4 Nov. 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811917309138?via=ihub.
Katahira, Kenji, et al. “EEG Correlates of the Flow State: A Combination of Increased Frontal Theta and Moderate Frontocentral Alpha Rhythm in the Mental Arithmetic Task.” Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers Media S.A., 9 Mar. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855042/.
Kaur, Chamandeep, and Preeti Singh. “EEG Derived Neuronal Dynamics during Meditation: Progress and Challenges.” Advances in Preventive Medicine, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684838/#!po=0.90909.