Research & references

Research listed on this page represents 40+ years of development of flow state science based on many research papers & time proven concepts that was effectively put together by the team of experts from different fields of expertise.

The system includes a number of new and upgraded concepts, specific language adaptation and systematic simplification in order to achieve maximum adoption/acceptance of the flow philosophy.

It provides us with a clarifying overview of how to achieve the flow state and how flow evolves into a trait.

Flow state related specific research & references

Arne Dietrich, Types of creativity, 2018

Arne Dietrich, Transient hypofrontality as a mechanism for the psychological effects of exercise, 2006

Andrew B. Newberg et al., The Varieties of Self-Transcendent Experience, 2017

Mihaly Csikszentmihályi (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-016253-5.

Arne Dietrich, Endocannabinoids and exercise, 2004

Lisa Feldman Barrett et al., The tenacious brain: How the anterior mid- cingulate contributes to achieving goals, 2020

Nakamura, J.; Csikszentmihályi, M. (20 December 2001). “Flow Theory and Research”. In C. R. Snyder Erik Wright, and Shane J. Lopez. Handbookof Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press. pp. 195–206. ISBN 978-0-19-803094-2.Cherry, Kendra. “What is Flow?”. About Education.

Brandon K. Ashinoff et al., Hyperfocus: the forgotten frontier of attention, 2019

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (1975). Beyond boredom and anxiety. Jossey-Bass Publishers. pp. 10–. ISBN 978-0-7879-5140-5.

David Harris et al., Neurocognitive mechanisms of the flow state, 2017

Csikszentmihályi, M. (1988), “The flow experience and its significance for human psychology”, in Csikszentmihályi, M., Optimal experience:psychological studies of flow in consciousness, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 15–35, ISBN 978-0-521-43809-4

Csikszentmihályi, Mihály; Harper & Row. “FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” (PDF). Retrieved 2 April 2015.Moneta, Giovanni (2012). “On the Measurement and Conceptualization of Flow”. In Engeser, Stefan. Advances in Flow Research. New York:Springer. ISBN 1461423589.

Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, S.J. (2007), Positive psychology: The scientific and practical explorations of human strengths, London, UK: Sage Publications

Csikszentmihályi, M., Larson, R., & Prescott, S. (1977). The ecology of adolescent activity and experience. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 6,281-294.

Ria Cheruvu, The Neuroscience of Flow, 2018

Delle Fave, A., & Bassi, M. (2000). The quality of experience in adolescents’ daily lives: Developmental perspectives. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 126, 347-367.

Csikszentmihayli, M. (2000). Happiness, flow, and economic equality. “American Psychologist, 55” 1163-1164.

Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), “Flow”, in Elliot, A., Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: TheGuilford Press, pp. 598–698

Keller, J., & Landhäußer, A. (2012). The flow model revisited. In S. Engeser (Ed.), Advances in flow research (pp. 51-64). New York: Springer.

Massimini, F., Csikszentmihályi, M., & Carli, M. (1987). The monitoring of optimal experience: A tool for psychiatric rehabilitation. Journal ofNervous and Mental Disease, 175(9), 545-549. doi:10.1097/00005053-198709000-00006

Christian Swann et al., New directions for the psychology of optimal performance in sport: flow and clutch states, 2017

Delle Fave, A., Massimini, F., & Bassi, M. (2011). Psychological selection and optimal experience across cultures: Social empowerment throughpersonal growth (Vol. 2). Springer Science & Business Media.

Moneta, G. B. (2012). On the measurement and conceptualization of flow. In S. Engeser (Ed.), Advances in flow research (pp. 23-50). New York

Ellis, G. D., Voelkl, J. E., & Morris, C. (1994). Measurement and analysis issues with explanation of variance in daily experience using the flowmodel. Journal of Leisure Research, 26, 337.

Cynthia J. Price et al., Interoceptive Awareness Skills for Emotion Regulation: Theory and Approach of Mindful Awareness in Body-Oriented Therapy (MABT), 2018

Haworth, John; Stephen Evans (June 1995). “Challenge, skill and positive subjective states in the daily life of a sample of YTS students”. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

Steven Kotler, The rise of the superman, 2014

Schaffer, Owen (2013), Crafting Fun User Experiences: A Method to Facilitate Flow, Human Factors International

Nakamura, Jeanne; Csikszentmihályi (2005). “The concept of flow”. Handbook of Positive Psychology: 89–105.

Meloncelli, C Wilson. “The Autotelic Personality – Finding Happiness in Flow”.

Keller, J., & Blomann, F. (2008). Locus of control and the flow experience. An experimental analyses. European Journal of Personality, 22, 589-607.

Keller, J., & Bless, H. (2008). Flow and regulatory compatibility: An experimental approach to flow model of intrinsic motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 196-209.

Arne Dietrich, The transient hypofrontality theory and its implications for emotion and cognition, 2009

Engeser, S., & Rheinberg, F. (2008). Flow, performance and moderators of challenge-skill balance. Motivation and Emotion, 32, 158-172.

Schüler, J. (2007). Arousal of flow experience in a learning setting and its effects on exam performance and affect. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 21, 217-227.

Eisenberger, R., Jones, J. R., Stinglhamber, F., Shanock, L., & Randall, A. T. (2005). Flow experiences at work: for high need achievers alone?Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 755-775.

Walker, C. J. (2010). Experiencing flow: Is doing it together better than doing it alone?, “The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5,” 3-11.

Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1990), Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, New York: Harper and Row, ISBN 0-06-092043-2

Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, Shane J. (2007), “11”, Positive Psychology, Sage Publications, Inc., ISBN 0-7619-2633-X

Arne Dietrich, Hilde Haider, A neurocognitive framework for human creative thought, 2017

Beer, Stafford. Cybernetics and Management. The English Universities Press. ISBN 978-0340045947.

Rathunde, K. & Csikszetnmihályi, M. (2005), “Middle school students’ motivation and quality of experience: A comparison of Montessori andtraditional school environments”, American Journal of Education, 111 (3): 341–371, doi:10.1086/428885

Rathunde, K. & Csikszentmihályi, M. (2005), “The social context of middle school: Teachers, friends, and activities in Montessori and traditionalschool environments”, Elementary School Journal, 106 (1): 59–79, doi:10.1086/496907

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi et al., Universal and Cultural Dimensions of Optimal Experiences, 2016,

Rathunde, K.; Csikszentmihályi, M. (2006). “The developing person: An experiential perspective”. In Lerner (ed.), R.M.; Damon (series ed.), W.Theoretical models of human development. Handbook of Child Psychology (6 ed.). New York: Wiley.

Christian Swann, Flow in Sport, 2016

Parncutt, Richard & McPherson, Gary E. (2002), The Science & Psychology of Music Performance: Creative Strategies for Teaching and LearningBook, Oxford University Press US, p. 119, ISBN 978-0-19-513810-8

Lorenza S Colzato et al., Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) modulates flow experience, 2017

Young, Janet A. & Pain, Michelle D. “The Zone: Evidence of a Universal Phenomenon for Athletes Across Sports”. Athletic Insight.Flow research & referencesMartin E.P. Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Abigail, Locke, (2001-02-01). “Being in the zone : notions of agency in athletic performance”.

Lluc Montull et al., Flow as an Embodied State. Informed Awareness of Slackline Walking. Frontier Psychology, 2020, 

Henderson, Shihan. “Finding Your Inner Master – Kigatsuku”. International Budo Institute.

Christian Swann et al., Exploring flow occurrence in elite golf, 2012

Sansonese, J. Nigro (1994), The Body of Myth: Mythology, Shamanic Trance, and the Sacred Geography of the Body, Inner Traditions, p. 26,ISBN 978-0-89281-409-1

Al-Jilani, Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir. “Purification of the Mind”. Quranic Studies. Luna Plena.

J A Schmidt, Flow in Education, 2010

Paul Benjamin Lowry, James Gaskin, Nathan W. Twyman, Bryan Hammer, and Tom L. Roberts (2013). “Taking ‘fun and games’ seriously: Proposingthe hedonic-motivation system adoption model (HMSAM),” Journal of the Association for Information Systems (JAIS), vol. 14(11), 617–671.

Chen, J. (2008). “Flow in Games”.

Milija Šimleša et al., The Flow Engine Framework: A Cognitive Model of Optimal Human Experience, 2018

Murphy, Curtiss (2011). “Why Games Work and the Science of Learning”.Hans Van der Heijden (2004) User Acceptance of Hedonic Information Systems, MIS Quarterly, vol. 28(4), pp. 695-704

Foster, Sandra; Lloyd, Paul (2007). “Positive Psychology Principles Applied to Consulting Psychology at the Individual and Group Level”. ConsultingPsychology Journal: Practice and Research. 59 (1): 30–40.

Marino Bonaiuto et al., Optimal Experience and Personal Growth: Flow and the Consolidation of Place Identity, 2016

Csikszentmihályi, M. (1997). Finding flow. The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York: Basic Books.

Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihályi, M. (year). The concept of flow. In Handbook of positive psychology (89-105). Oxford University Press.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Flow, the secret to happiness

Falko Rheinberg et al., Intrinsic Motivation and Flow, 2018

Landhäußer, A., & Keller, J. (2012). Flow and its affective, cognitive, and performance-related consequences. In S. Engeser (Ed.), Advances inflow research (pp.65-86). New York: Springer.Massimini,

F., & Carli, M. (1988). The systematic assessment of flow in daily experience. In M. Csikszentmihályi & I. S. Csikszentmihályi (Eds.),Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 288-306). New York: Cambridge University Press.Shernoff, D. J.,

Elena Patricia Núñez Castellar et al., , 2018, Being in the zone: Using behavioral and EEG recordings for the indirect assessment of flow

Csikszentmihályi, M., Schneider, B., & Shernoff, E. S. (2003). Student engagement in High School classrooms from the perspective of flow theory. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 158-176.

Hektner, J.M. & Csikszentmihályi, M. (1996). A longitudinal exploration of flow an intrinsic motivation in adolescents. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American education research association, New York. Alfred Sloan Foundation.

Kenji Katahira et al., EEG Correlates of the Flow State: A Combination of Increased Frontal Theta and Moderate Frontocentral Alpha Rhythm in the Mental Arithmetic Task, 2018

Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihályi, M. (2014). The concept of flow. “Handbook of positive psychology,” 89-105. Oxford University Press.

Juho Hamari et al., Measuring flow in gamification: Dispositional Flow Scale-2, 2014

Mihály Csikszentmihályi (1992). Flow: The Psychology of Happiness. Rider. ISBN 0-7126-5477-1. Retrieved 25 October 2015.

Research & References by the condition

“It can be concluded that diaphragmatic breathing can be employed as an effective therapy in reducing the oxidative stress while it can be incorporated as an add-on therapy to standard care in improving the anthropometry and glycemic parameters in type 2 diabetes.”

“Sleep onset latency, number of awakenings, and awakening time during sleep were decreased and sleep efficiency was increased if SRI practiced slow, paced breathing exercises for 20 min before going to sleep. Our results indicate that there is autonomic dysfunction among insomniacs, especially in relation to vagal activity; however, this decreased vagal activity can be facilitated by practicing slow, paced breathing, thereby improving sleep quality.”

“Breathing retraining program can improve lung functions, arterial blood gas and the levels of activities of daily living. Therefore, breathing retraining should be included in respiratory physiotherapy programs in patients with COPD.”

“The results showed that the slow-breathing technique could have a significant effect on improvement of the hemodynamic changes following the acute stressful tasks, especially in the passive coping task.”

“The most natural way to lose weight without exercise is to improve blood circulation and cell oxygen levels by correct breathing & gradual breathing normalization.”

CardioVascular disease & Hypertension
“The results of this follow-up study indicate that breathing retraining had lasting effects on both respiratory parameters measured. Subjects evidenced significantly higher end-tidal carbon dioxide levels and lower respiratory rates when compared to pretreatment levels measured three years earlier. Subjects also continued to report a decrease in the frequency of functional cardiac symptoms when compared to pretreatment levels. We conclude that breathing retraining has lasting effects on respiratory physiology and is highly correlated with a reduction in reported functional cardiac symptoms.”

“The lung cancer patient should learn diaphragmatic breathing through pursed lips. Diaphragmatic breathing strengthens the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. This will allow more air to move in and out of the lungs with less tiring of the chest muscles. When the diaphragm becomes weak, the patient compensates by using the shoulders and other muscles to help them breathe.”

School & Sport performance
“Our results thus uncover for the first time the remarkable facilitatory effects of simple breathing practices on complex functions such as motor memory, and have important implications for sports training and neuromotor rehabilitation in which better retention of learned motor skills is highly desirable.”

“Results from several studies have described a relationship between pulmonary function and both all-cause and cause-specific mortality. The purpose of this study was to investigate the predictive value of pulmonary function by gender after 29 years of follow-up. These results suggest that pulmonary function is a long-term predictor for overall survival rates in both genders and could be used as a tool in general health assessment.”

“Controlled breathing techniques significantly improved dyspnea, anxiety, and mobility. All the measured variables improved in the intervention group. The control group had poorer values in all the variables after the hospitalization period.”

Thyroid problems
“In patients with severe hypothyroidism, the ventilatory control system may be altered at the neural level, as indicated by a blunted chemosensitivity.”

“Intervention showed significant clinical improvement in both groups. Headache frequency and intensity were reduced more in Yoga with conventional care than the conventional care group alone. Furthermore, Yoga therapy enhanced the vagal tone and decreased the sympathetic drive, hence improving the cardiac autonomic balance. Thus, Yoga therapy can be effectively incorporated as an adjuvant therapy in migraine patients.”

ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
“A growing number of empirical studies have revealed that diaphragmatic breathing may trigger body relaxation responses and benefit both physical and mental health. In the present study, we investigated the diaphragmatic breathing as a single intervention method for sustained attention improvement. The results suggested that 20 session’s intervention provided an improvement in the NCT score.”

“Ten of the seizure-group subjects were in the study at least 7 months and following treatment, 8 showed EEG power spectrum “normalization”, restoration of cardio-respiratory synchrony (RSA), and their seizure frequency and severity were significantly reduced.”

“Based upon the available evidence, it seems apparent that chronic stress in susceptible individual can favor the manifestation of allergic disease and exacerbate as well as complicate control of the existing allergic diseases.”

Snoring & Sleep Apnea
“Over 95 percent of clients with sleep apnoea had improved sleep. Approximately 80 percent of clients had been able to cease use of their CPAP machine or oral appliances. Symptoms such as snoring, headaches, restless legs, low concentration levels and decreased energy levels also improved in the majority of clients.”

Chronic pain relief
“Our results suggest that the way of breathing decisively influences autonomic and pain processing, thereby identifying DSB in concert with relaxation as the essential feature in the modulation of sympathetic arousal and pain perception.”

Additional Research & References on breathing


Research & References by the intervention

“Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing (the proper way to respire). Taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths is necessary to get the oxygen rich air deep into the base of the lungs, where three times as many blood vessels are available for respiratory exchange compared to the upper lung region.”

“It can be concluded that diaphragmatic breathing can be employed as an effective therapy in reducing the oxidative stress…”


“All studies reported short-term effects, and long-term effects of breathing exercise on asthma quality life.”


“DB showed positive effects such as increase in lung volumes, respiratory motion, and SpO2 and reduction in respiratory rate.”


“When you exhale fully, you use main breathing muscle diaphragm and all auxiliary respiratory muscles and contract them as a full three dimensional core system (squeezing muscles of the abdominal region). The main role in this action has a thoracolumbar fascia which connects them together (diaphragm, m. transversus abdominis, m. Multifidus, pelvic floor muscles,…).”

“One of the reasons why breathing can change how we feel is that emotions and breathing are closely connected. A revealing research study by Pierre Phillipot showed that different emotional states are associated with distinct respiration patterns.

“For example, once you go below 10 breaths a minute you start to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body relax when it has been injured. Slow breathing activates the vagus nerve, the primary cranial nerve, which is associated with a recuperative state.”


“(PLB – pursed lip breathing technique) creates an additional workload on the body by narrowing exhalation pathway, enabling slow and controlled exhale and forcing your body to adapt to breathing speed, which results in multitude of positive physiological adaptations, including higher lung capacity and more efficient tissue oxygenation.”


“… respiratory therapists teach this technique to their patients to ease shortness of breath and to promote deep breathing, also referred to as abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing.”

“We conclude that PLB can improve breathing function in patients with primary or secondary respiratory diseases. The breathing pattern associated with PLB produces a more physiological and efficient ventilation.”

“Pursed-lips breathing provided sustained improvement in exertional dyspnea and physical function.”

“Controlled breathing techniques and chest physical therapy are the 2 major components of the multidisciplinary approach to the rehabilitation of patients with COPD, bronchiectasis, and cystic fibrosis.”

“Pursed lip breathing is one of the simplest ways to control shortness of breath. It provides a quick and easy way to slow your pace of breathing, making each breath more effective.”

“Breathing retraining program can improve lung functions, arterial blood gas and the levels of activities of daily living. Therefore, breathing retraining should be included in respiratory physiotherapy programs in patients with COPD.”



“…breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic (inhibitory) nervous system, thus slowing certain physiological processes down that may be functioning too fast or conflicting with the homeostasis of the cells (Jerath et al., 2006).”

SUFFICIENT BODY OXYGENATION (problem of chronic oxygen starvation/overbreathing/hyperventilation)
“Dozens more medical studies prove the same fact: not only people with chronic disease, but nearly all so called “normal subjects” breathe about 12 L/min (double the medical norm)”

“yoga-based practices (4) correct underactivity of the PNS and GABA systems in part through stimulation of the vagus nerves, the main peripheral pathway of the PNS, and (5) reduce allostatic load.”


“Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress … The consequence is a lower level of oxidative stress, which suggests that an appropriate diaphragmatic breathing could protect athletes from long-term adverse effects of free radicals.”

“Stress responses can occur as a reaction to physiological (or systemic) challenge or threat; signals from multiple parts of the brain send input to the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) within the hypothalamus.”

“Chronic stress can be seen as a process of deteriorating energetic resources. Severe stress symptoms occur if an imbalance between investing and regaining energy persists over a long period of time.”

“… an increase in blood CO2 concentration, which leads to a decrease in blood pH, will result in haemoglobin proteins releasing their load of oxygen.

“We conclude that breathing retraining has lasting effects on respiratory physiology and is highly correlated with a reduction in reported functional cardiac symptoms.”

“Listening to the binaural beat tapes resulted in a significant reduction in the anxiety score reported …”

“The overall conclusion was that brainwave entrainment is an “effective therapeutic tool”. People suffering from cognitive functioning deficits, stress, pain, headaches & migraines, PMS and other behavioural problems all benefitted from using binaural beats.”


“Physiological and psychological effects of a Himalayan singing bowl in meditation practice …”

“We present the results of an experimental investigation of the acoustics and fluid dynamics of Tibetan singing bowls.”

“Mindfulness-based training is an example of an intervention that is gaining promising preliminary empirical support and is increasingly administered in clinical settings.”


“Mindful awareness entails more than sensing present experience as it generates an awareness of awareness and attention to intention.”

BODY OXYGEN CHECK (Control pause)
“… the simplest way to measure body oxygenation level, which is the single most important indicator of your general health.”

“Our results suggest that the voluntary breath-hold time might be a useful index for prediction of the exercise tolerance …”


“The results showed statistically significant increase in Body Oxygen Check of tested subjects. We can conclude that NirvanaFitness® system improves an average measurement for cell oxygenation on average by 70,5 %, lowest 46.7 % and highest score of 113,3 %.
(Research conducted on Faculty of sport, Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU)