Flow state (aka "the zone") is a mental state of hyperfocus where one is fully immersed in the task at hand and is typically accompanied by an energetic and enjoyable mood. Not thinking of things you need to get done later, what you're eating for your next meal - nothing but the present moment. With so much sensory noise in the modern world (handheld technology being a big one), a state of flow is something most humans rarely encounter.
In trying to engineer my environment to produce a state of flow, I discovered barefoot hiking (among other things like float therapy, cold therapy or yoga) as an activity that guides me into a state of complete immersion by experiencing my body through one of our most important sensory organs: the feet. To be clear, my reference to barefoot refers to both the act of being completely unshod (no shoes) but also includes wearing barefoot shoes that use only a thin barrier between the sole of your foot and the ground and allows for maximal sensory input. My preferred shoe bring the Vibram KSO Evo (sold for $102 CAD in our web based store tfc-shop.com)
Several elements of barefoot hiking contribute to the state of flow:
1) Being barefoot and experiencing every unique quality of the ground you are walking over: the texture, the angulation, the firmness, the traction - our feet are designed to sense all of these things but rarely get the chance because of the thick soled shoes most wear everyday.
2) Unplugging from technology and being in nature: A mental reset for most people who are constantly connected and interacting with technology through email, television, Instagram, Facebook etc.
3) The challenge of navigating variable challenging uphill or downhill terrain. Having to pay attention to every single step you take to make sure your footing is solid and that you won't fall down the steep incline you're walking down forces you to be in the present.
All of these elements combine to reset your brain chemistry, re-connect with your body (especially your feet), work on full body mobility and movement competency and give you a taste of what it feels like to be immersed in a flow state. Whether you're a high level business executive, a desk bound worker or someone raising a family - try out barefoot hiking and discover a mental state that will improve your productivity, your mood and your overall health both physically and mentally