Flow: Hacking into your potential.
In 2017 I was introduced to a book called Stealing Fire by Steven Kolter and Jamie Wheal. This book was recommended by the wonderful Jason Silva; a renowned TV personality, story teller, and film maker. Jason is most notably known for hosting 5 seasons of his Emmy nominated TV series on National Geographic Channel, Brain Games. I have followed Jason’s career for the past 5 years, I am in constant awe by his brilliant mind, his self-discipline, and his passion for not only for his projects but for the overall wonder of life and living.
Once Jason recommended this book it was a no brainier to read. This was my first time of being introduced to flow in a formal manner.
But what is flow?
In psychology flow is known as the state of being in the zone. It is the state of mind when a person is operating or performing an activity in full immersion, in this state time can either feel like it is slowing down or speeding up. Flow follows focus and it is when the individual is in the here and now, the present moment. We often times hear about flow when we talk to athletes, Olympic medalists, or the Navy Seals. These individuals tap into flow at their peak performance, they become enveloped in the present moment, the task at hand and time usually slows down and there are no background thoughts, no distractions, they are fully immersed in the moment.
Flow is not exclusive to athletes and Navy Seals, musicians have tapped into flow when performing a concert, painters get lost into their work when in flow, bakers and chiefs achieve flow when creating a delicious meal, accountants and bankers have tapped into flow when working the numbers away. Flow can be achieved by everyone and anyone, it is a beautiful state when mind, body, consciousness, and the world all align for this moment of when we are truly riding the waves or the flow of the river.
Behind the chair in the salon my goal is to achieve flow with every haircut and color, when practicing my daily yoga practice, I hope to achieve a moment of flow when my breath, body, mind, consciousness, and surroundings all become aligned in the sweet, savory taste of flow.
Flow has a specific recipe, a person can not sit and binge watch Netflix for hours and say, “Wow that time went by so fast, I must’ve been in flow.” Flow is not about zoning out but rather zoning in. Achieving flow comes from the combination of pleasure, performance, and meaning. When these three elements are combined into an activity flow can be achieved. It sounds much easier than it is, but achieving flow takes an enormous amount of discipline. Regardless of the activity it takes practice and not practice to achieve flow but rather the practice of the activity to create meaning. Doing something for the sake of reaching flow will only leave a person frustrated or perhaps they will achieve flow once and try and recreate the previous conditions to achieve it again, which will probably lead to more frustration. Flow is a mixture of discipline and surrendering, a disciplined life but accepting moments of surrendering.
The reason why flow is important or why people seek flow is because it allows an individual to operate at their truest, fullest potential and creates moments of ecstasy. Flow releases all of the delicious hormones in our brain dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. It’s natures most natural and highest of highs. Flow creates the most ecstatic experiences.
Of course, there are ways to hack flow.
Thousands of people attend Burning Man and take psychedelic drugs to lubricate their minds so they can achieve flow easier and quicker. Being in the right setting with the right drugs can nudge an individual towards flow. This is how flow is creating a 4 trillion dollar underground industry, events like Burning Man, EDM (electronic dance music) festivals, psychedelic drugs, movies, music, and concerts are all creating tools and hacks to help people achieve a state of flow easier. Once they get that natural high (or drug high) they will keep pouring money into these industries to achieve that same high.
Flow can be achieved in a multitude of ways, with assistance from pharmacology, neurobiology, technology, or psychology anyone can achieve these levels of ecstasis. Everyone is wired differently, for example I will never be able to use cannabis or other mind-altering drugs to achieve flow, while others this may be the only tool they need to achieve this state. Biology will affect how we achieve flow, there is no simple formula that is universal for all. There are some necessary ingredients like discipline, surrendering, pleasure, performance, and above all else meaning.
Ask you’re self this question before exploring more on flow, “Where am I going?”. Meditating on this question will expand your mind, your way of thinking, and perhaps give you insight of what areas of your life you can tap into flow.
If you would like to learn more about flow check out Jason Silva’s video series Shots of Awe or his podcast Flow Sessions. For more read Steven Kotler’s book Stealing Fire and The Rise of Superman.
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