In Psychology terms, reaching the “flow” describes attaining a heightened sense of focus, or being “in the zone”. Musicians, Physicians, or even gamers have become aware of this phenomena and research into this field has begun to explode. Do we see this phenomena as a boxer walks into the ring? As a batter walks up to the plate? Or a Surgeon in the Operating Room who listens to a particular song during a complex portion of the case? Are they all using musical prompts to put themselves into the zone? Lets explore how the right music to reach the flow.
What is the Flow?
Our Nervous system can process roughly a maximum of 110 pieces of information per second, which in theory should be plenty to fly a quad in a trippy spin, or through a gate slalom, but some say that an optimal level is only 60. Let’s explore how we can begin to provide meaningful data in this realm with our hobby that demands a tremendous amount of focus to be successful.
Anecdotally it has long been popular the concept that we as humans use only a fraction of our brains. That if we could harness the full potential that amazing things could be possible. What study is allowing us to find is that for phenomena like flow, it is the opposite?
By achieving a state of transient hypofrontality (the scientific name for flow), we can turn down the volume of our pre-frontal cortex. This is where the inner dialogue that runs in our heads is, this is where the part of the brain that tracks time, and by being able to do this. We can enter one of the most naturally addictive states.
What the experts say
Researchers have found that an incredible test bed for studying these are extreme sports.
“In flow what happens is attention becomes so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears. Sense of self-consciousness disappears. Throughout all aspects of performance both mental and physical go through the roof” Steven Kotler
Pushing yourself as hard as you can but it seems effortless. Flow amplifies all of our physical skills, better faster, more dexterous, so is our brains, when we are in the state we are taking in more information pers second and practicing more deeply and it does appear we are processing more quickly. Pattern recognition, future prediction and all of these are being amplified.
Studies performed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, have helped us to gain the first insights into this phenomena, and it has been found that this is possible and done by people from all walks of life, geographical area and profession.
How music may factor in?
Now that we know the goal for pushing ourselves into flow, how does music factor in? This is a yet un-researched area of flow.
I have intuitively been using this method for years in my work life long before I even knew “flow” was a thing. I found that listening to certain types of music can help to shut everything out and begin to enter a state of flow.
Now the research shows there is both micro flow and macro flow, essentially a range of focus levels that you can achieve.
Another trick that I like to do is use a similar play list of selected songs both during practice, and competition. And to take it a step further practice using different songs based on the type of flying you are doing.
Many small tight and fast turns? Maybe a high tempo piece of EDM music is what you want. Something with long and flowy turns, where the key is have the smoothest and cleanest lines in order to maximize the distance traveled per amps utilization of your battery.
I have found that when I want to work on a certain part of my flight game, I try to find what type of music will help me do that. If you think of tracks, tricks, or maneuvers as dance moves, all you are doing is matching up what type of music goes with the rhythm and pace of the move you want to practice.
Music to help develop a flowy rhythm
Aside from switching your brain into a hyper focused state, music can also just help you develop the proper rhythm you are seeking. In Justin Skinners video about racing tips, where he gets tips from the 2017 MultiGP National Champion Captain Vanover, Vanover who is also a former musician. Says that his technique for racing is to break a track down into components the same way he would learn a new musical piece. He also says that his strategy for finding lines, are to imagine the entire track as being one smooth curvy line, and to fly as smoothly along that line as possible. Is it a coincidence that the national champion approaches a new track the same was a learning a new classical piano piece of music?
Certain songs can trigger inspiration.
When reaching a flowstate why does time tend to move strangely? This is because the pre-frontal cortex that you are partially shutting down, and this is the part of the brain that experiences and measures time.
We become free from ourselves, our internal voice that tells us we cannot do things, and
All 5 of these chemicals are performance enhancing neurochemicals, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, anandamide, serotonin, and endorphins. Each of these can contribute to achieving heightened states of performance of the body and the mind.
Flow In every day life
Flow is something that we all have access to, and can help you outside of FPV as well. Experts report that executives can reach up to 500% productivity while in flow vs without. By mastering using these known triggers you can learn how to get yourself primed to enter this type of state when needed.
There are different stages of flow
Flow exists on a micro and macro level. So even if you are not able to always enter a full state of transient hypofrontality, you can with the use of these triggers initiate a smaller “in the zone” state that still adds amazing benefits to your performance in whatever task you are doing.
I consulted up and coming music producer Rick D about what the musical equivalent of the top of the line setup might be to compliment my Fatshark HDO goggles, Immersion RC Rapidfire Module, and Dual VAS Switchblade antennas. He suggested the Blue Lola High Fidelity monitor headphones pictured.
While Rick hasn’t turned pro yet, his home studio would make most independent labels green with gear envy, so I obliged to see just what that might look like in the field. The blues do offer concert level clarity without the pretentiousness of some of your other high end cans.
Me personally on race day I find a nice pair of ear buds work well. I usually fly with one in, to listen to music, and the other ear free to listen to race commands and motor/prop sounds.
I love learning more and more about how humans work, and then leveraging these tools to boost all aspects of live. I really find it fascinating that FPV aligns many of the flow triggers together that can not only allow you to step of your flying game. But this can act as a way to allow you to practice entering into heightened focus to help any aspect of life.