Flowstate is the cognitive state of Hypofrontality that enables extreme athletes to flirt with death, artists to draw inspiration from that great bottomless well of human cleverness and the religious to experience a visceral fellowship and connection to something divine. If you’ve ever faced near certain death and experienced a vivid slowing down of time in concert with a heightened sense of things while your life flashed before your eyes you’ve experienced flowstate — maybe it even saved your life.
How much more productive and happy would that make us? If you’re not lucky enough to live in tiki hut next to a beach where you can go surfing daily I’ll suggest spending a little bit of time doing a daily flow practice.
The work can be counter-intuitive to flow; work often involves rote, repeated tasks that are more monotonous than challenging and often in business we don’t get immediate (or instantaneous) feedback on our performance. It takes weeks, months or years. Thus I would suggest doing this in the middle of your work day to get yourself into a peak state…
Mindfulness (15–20 minutes)
Focused attention is a really crucial component of flow. Thus you’ll want to spend 15–20 minutes doing meditation, brain training or something like HRV training with the Heartmath emWave Devices mentioned above — I’ve reached some very sublime flowstates with cannabis (you probably don’t want to get high on weed in the middle of the workday, so maybe try some small doses of CBD oil) and HRV training, as have others and the Heartmath Institute’s website has some interesting published research on HRV and flow.
Is perhaps the original flowstate trigger. You want to listen to focus promoting music while trying to reach flow. I find that Brain.FM is great for this but really any holosync style tunes would work. What you probably wouldn’t want to listen to is hip hop or rock music with a lot of lyrics that take a bit of your attention away from what is in front of you. Although, some authors would disagree with me, in Tim Ferriss’s excellent Tools of Titans he interviewed some prolific writers that find that listening to the same song (or album) on repeat for hours and hours powerfully stimulates creative flow.
Skill-Challenge/Clear Goals/Immediate Feedback (10–15 minutes)
Immediately before or after (you’ll have to experiment to see what works best for you) the mindfulness practice you want to spend a little bit of time doing something that takes some skill but is challenging, where you have a clear goal and you receive immediate pass/fail feedback. Some ideas for this…
Video games — Especially fast paced video games where you are racing or shooting are conducive to focus; you have a clear goal like winning a race or killing bad guys and you get immediate feedback Obviously you’d want to pick a video game with levels that only last about 10–15 minutes, you don’t want to get sucked into a game that you’re going to want to play for hours. Gamers report that Quake III DeFRaG, Tetris Effect in VR and the classic Nintendo 64 GoldenEye consistently stimulate flowstate.
Gambling — There’s a ton of places on the internet where you can play all sorts of gambling games that require focus, there’s stakes (you don’t want to lose money!) and you get immediate feedback. You’d want to pick games of skill as opposed to games that entailed a lot of randomness.
Gravity — In the Rise of Superman, experiencing gravity is a consistent flow trigger among extreme athletes. You’re probably not going to go free running along the ledges of a skyscraper during your lunch break so you’d want to find a way to experience (or simulate) visceral gravity. You could do this from the safety of your office with a cheap VR headset that you slip your smartphone into.
Remove Distractions — Finally, to optimize flow you want to minimize distractions. Close browser tabs and windows. Turn off beeping, dinging or vibrating notifications. Place your smartphone outside of your field of vision and get stuff done!
How to Be Cross Eyed: Thriving Despite Your Physical Imperfection
For the longest time people have been telling me to write a book. I’ve had a pretty interesting life; I’ve seduced a politician’s daughter in Medellin, Colombia, I hung out with spies in Kiev, Ukraine. I’ve almost died underwater twice, I participated in a bank robbery and I lost my virginity to a spy (yes, really!) I’m a pretty good story teller so I think a memoir is the right format for me to write a book as opposed to the problem>generalization>platitude>strategy formula that most personal development books follow. If your interest is piqued I’d encourage you to give these sample chapters a read…
Transhumanism is a Trap
I’ve had a real change of mind on transhumanists. A few transhumanists, are honest in discussing that transhumanism is not about equality. It’s going to result in drastic inequality, winner take all taken to the furthest extreme. This is an exhaustive philosophical, historical and economic critique of transhumanism. If this sort of thing interests I’ve organized it in an epub ebook which you can download and read on your tablet or smartphone.
New Book Review
Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler
This is the 3rd book I’ve read authored by wordsmith and ecstatic practitioner Steven Kotler. When I think critically about the future of our species I oscillate between being a black pilled accelerationist and a cheerful optimist that thinks we will one day salsa dance on Olympus Mons — when I read Kotler’s books I lean more towards the latter than the former.
Flow state may save us from ourselves…
Stealing Fire makes the compelling case that engineered ecstasis, this state of mind that has been with us since time immemorial is the next world rocking technology that will flip society on its head and change everything. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to us.
November Biohacking Q&A #18: Postmodernism on Modafinil?
I’ll be answering some of the November Biohacking and lifehacking questions in this Q&A podcast.