| Flow state and the well­ness in­dus­try

There is a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity for the well­ness in­dus­try to be­come part of the flow state move­ment, as it al­ready holds the keys on how to at­tain those states.

Living Now - - Editorial - by Jost Sauer

There is a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity for the well­ness in­dus­try to be­come part of the flow state move­ment.


The age of en­hance­ment is here, and with it the hunt to crack the code of peak per­for­mance states is on. By th­ese states I mean the zone where ev­ery­thing comes to­gether and you prob­lem solve cre­atively at warp speed. Find­ing out how to put peo­ple in those states is a goal in fields rang­ing from sci­ence to suc­cess, as the po­ten­tial is lim­it­less. There is a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity here for the well­ness in­dus­try be­cause this trend is about to be­come a move­ment, and we al­ready know how to at­tain those states.

I’ve been read­ing some great books lately, in­clud­ing Steal­ing Fire and The Rise of Su­per­man, on peak per­for­mance and ‘ flow’ states and, although they don’t specif­i­cally ad­dress well­ness, they high­light what the new well­be­ing mar­ket would de­mand. Steal­ing Fire cites stud­ies in neu­ro­science dis­cov­er­ing that our con­scious mind can process 120 bits of in­for­ma­tion per sec­ond, but the sub­con­scious can process 4 to 6 bil­lion. Har­ness­ing the pro­cess­ing power of the sub­con­scious is like ac­cess­ing quan­tum com­put­ing. From the business per­spec­tive this means in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity (ex­ec­u­tives are 500 per cent more ef­fec­tive in flow) and the com­pet­i­tive edge of light­ning-fast cre­ative so­lu­tions. In ther­apy, this is ter­ri­tory al­ready out­lined in Quan­tum Heal­ing by Deepak Cho­pra and other en­ergy medicine texts, but new sci­en­tific re­search will start in­form­ing new main­stream heal­ing modes, and the well­ness in­dus­try could be left behind.


The au­thor of The Rise of Su­per­man, jour­nal­ist Steven Kotler, de­fined flow as “an op­ti­mal state of con­scious­ness where ac­tion and aware­ness merge and there is no con­cept of time or self ”. He in­ves­ti­gated the me­chan­ics of ex­treme sports, as ath­letes op­er­ate in this zone. Their lives de­pend on their abil­ity to make in­stan­ta­neous cor­rect de­ci­sions while they are zoom­ing to­wards the ground in a wing­suit or surf­ing down the face of a mas­sive wave. To do this they have to ac­cess and process vast amounts of in­for­ma­tion at speeds much faster than the con­scious mind is ca­pa­ble of. This even­tu­ally led Kotler to the con­cept of ‘ deep embodiment’, and into the ter­ri­tory of yoga, tai-chi, and mar­tial arts.

Steal­ing Fire by Kotler and Jamie Wheal (an ex­pert on the neu­ro­phys­i­ol­ogy of hu­man per­for­mance) is an over­view of peak per­for­mance and flow re­search in psy­chol­ogy, neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy, tech­nol­ogy, and phar­ma­col­ogy. It dis­cusses the long his­tory of us­ing mood and mind-al­ter­ing sub­stances to achieve flow. The au­thors saw this as such a pow­er­ful de­sire that it is form­ing the ba­sis for a new ‘al­tered states econ­omy’. New drug sta­tis­tics show­ing the nor­mal­i­sa­tion of drug-based en­hance­ment in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion sup­port this. In the USA alone, where 24% of the pop­u­la­tion have prob­lems with il­licit drugs, 25% of school chil­dren are on med­i­cal stim­u­lants purely to en­hance per­for­mance.


A new pro­fes­sional drug-us­ing de­mo­graphic seek­ing flow via mi­cro­dos­ing LSD and psilo­cy­bin (magic mush­rooms) is also on the rise. The tech mag­a­zine Wired sug­gests that mi­cro­dos­ing psychedelics is be­ing used widely (un­of­fi­cially) as a suc­cess tool in Sil­i­con Val­ley but quickly spread­ing to other in­dus­tries. Psy­che­delic drugs are now the sub­ject of ar­ti­cles in main­stream business jour­nals be­cause users want a boost of in­for­ma­tion and in­spi­ra­tion, and mi­cro­dos­ing makes them feel smarter, more pro­duc­tive, and hap­pier. They are of­ten health-con­scious and some con­sider mi­cro­dos­ing to be a ‘well­ness hack’.

Even I didn’t see this as­so­ci­a­tion of recre­ational drugs with well­ness com­ing. But the con­cept of a ‘well­ness hack’ along with ‘con­scious­ness hack­ing’, ‘ex­treme per­for­mance’ and ‘life up­grades’, de­scribe what the well­ness in­dus­try could de­liver via real well­ness hacks and sys­tems to achieve peak per­for­mance and flow states. This is the fu­ture be­cause none of us are go­ing to hit flow states by snow­board­ing down a ver­ti­cal cliff with an avalanche at our heels any­time soon. And you can’t ever rely on psy­che­delic drugs such as LSD or mush­rooms. All drugs have side ef­fects. What’s more, the al­tered states they cre­ate are vir­tual, not real and they hi­jack the re­sources of the body to de­liver the goods and this in­creases body/mind sep­a­ra­tion. This is the op­po­site of flow. It might be a slow path there, in the case of mi­cro­dos­ing, but drugs even­tu­ally sep­a­rate who you could be and who you are.

The above-men­tioned books con­cluded that flow is elu­sive, that there is no re­li­able way to re­pro­duce the ex­pe­ri­ence with enough con­sis­tency to rad­i­cally ac­cel­er­ate per­for­mance. Kotler iden­ti­fies 15 to 17 fac­tors re­quired

to achieve th­ese states and many are ex­ter­nal, en­vi­ron­men­tal, or so­cial. One of th­ese, ‘ deep embodiment’, a kind of to­tal phys­i­cal aware­ness, re­quires a com­bi­na­tion of ‘ dif­fi­cult, chal­leng­ing and stren­u­ous’ with risk and fear thrown in, like surf­ing an 80 foot wave. He did pro­pose that tai-chi, yoga, or mar­tial arts (if they were dif­fi­cult, chal­leng­ing, and stren­u­ous enough) could take or­di­nary peo­ple to­wards a flow state. But he doesn’t un­der­stand the sys­tem behind tai-chi prac­tices so couldn’t ex­pand on that, and it goes with­out say­ing that you can’t do Bikram yoga in the of­fice to en­hance your cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing.


Steal­ing Fire out­lined Google’s Mind Gym, which tries to train for ‘ec­sta­sis’, the state in which the sub­con­scious mind takes over. The book also in­tro­duced ‘em­bod­ied cog­ni­tion’, the idea of us­ing par­tic­u­lar pos­tures to en­hance mood. This is con­nected to a de­vel­op­ment in cog­ni­tive sci­ence – the once mar­ginal idea that the mind is con­nected to the body and that the body in­flu­ences the mind (yes this is a new break­through for them). In a re­cent ar­ti­cle in Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can ‘embodiment’ is de­scribed as the new par­a­digm that cog­ni­tive sci­ence is shift­ing to­wards.

This ‘new’ sci­ence-based un­der­stand­ing of the body/mind con­nec­tion is old news for most Liv­ing­now read­ers, but sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it will im­pact on main­stream modal­i­ties such as counselling in which the fo­cus on the mind means that clients can get trapped in ‘sto­ry­telling’. They can go over and over what they did and why, how they feel and make other peo­ple feel, and it can take years, if ever, to re­solve any­thing. It’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore the main­stream looks to ‘cog­ni­tive embodiment’ – to us­ing spe­cific ex­er­cises de­signed to im­prove well-be­ing and then takes that ter­ri­tory.


This is where the well­ness in­dus­try holds the edge. We al­ready have the prac­tices, tech­niques, tools, and skills that over­ride the sto­ries and could train peo­ple for al­tered states. Although ev­ery chi prac­ti­tioner, en­ergy-medicine ther­a­pist, or yoga or tai-chi teacher out there is en­ti­tled to an ‘ I told you so’ mo­ment here, the way for­ward is to cater to new ac­cel­er­ated de­mands by com­bin­ing modal­i­ties specif­i­cally to de­liver peak per­for­mance and flow states. To cre­ate what I’d call a ‘zone ther­apy’ and to own that ter­ri­tory. Main­stream re­search might re­unite the medicine of the mind and the medicine of the body but the miss­ing link will al­ways be the medicine of the spirit.

Re­verse en­gi­neer­ing to iden­tify the com­mon fac­tors un­der­ly­ing the flow state that ex­treme sports or magic mush­rooms cre­ate is the way to zone ther­apy. Us­ing tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine I would see ‘ flow’ as a com­bi­na­tion of a rush of chi, the op­ti­mi­sa­tion and en­hance­ment of or­gan func­tions, and the en­abling of a con­scious ac­cess to the sub­con­scious. This can be recre­ated on de­mand by work­ing with chi, as it is en­ergy, in­for­ma­tion, and con­scious­ness, and align­ing life­style with the chi cy­cle, the ul­ti­mate ‘ flow chart’. En­hance your or­gan func­tion and you are per­ma­nently and au­to­mat­i­cally hap­pier, more pro­duc­tive, more cre­ative, and more soul-sat­is­fied.


Ini­tially se­quen­tially and then si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Start with or­tho­molec­u­lar psy­chi­a­try, us­ing nu­tri­ents to heighten emo­tional states. If you feel good, op­tions open up. Nutri­ent sat­u­ra­tion cre­ates flow. Add acupunc­ture and re­me­dial mas­sage to cre­ate flow and re­duce block­ages in your en­ergy field. Then, add a chiprac­tice (yoga or tai-chi) and med­i­ta­tion (the medicine of the spirit) to ac­cess flow states and down­load in­for­ma­tion (via cos­mic con­scious­ness links).

In flow states, or­gan func­tion is en­hanced and in­for­ma­tion comes for­ward, so your story nat­u­rally comes up too. This is how it is. We all ex­pe­ri­ence this. To test yours, just ask your­self what is stop­ping you from pur­su­ing your dreams.

This is where ther­apy, via em­bod­ied cog­ni­tion, comes into play, and the

use of spe­cific pos­tures that are the an­ti­dote to spe­cific psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues. The ben­e­fits of yoga or tai-chi cut in now be­cause you can draw upon the flow skills to get past the story. If new in­for­ma­tion is re­ceived but there is no story to stop the flow, you will do what you per­ceive, fol­low up with­out in­ter­fer­ence, and you can re­alise your dreams. This is peak per­for­mance.

I be­lieve that ‘ex­treme well-be­ing’ should be the new well­ness move­ment – to live in a way that ac­cel­er­ates the unit­ing of body, mind, and spirit and taps into cos­mic con­scious­ness to cre­ate peak per­for­mance and flow states. This de­liv­ers ev­ery­thing that peo­ple chase via drugs and ex­treme sports. And, it’s the end of the story, so every­one re­ally will live hap­pily ever af­ter!


1. Find a se­cluded spot and put your­self into the chi-gung pos­ture of hug­ging the tree. 2. Feel the chi in­ten­sify in your power cen­tre (the lower belly, also called your ‘ dan tien’). 3. Af­ter three to five min­utes lower your arms and ini­ti­ate a shak­ing move­ment from your core, like a fish­tail, where your limbs nat­u­rally fol­low the im­pulses gen­er­ated in the cen­tre of your belly. Get re­ally vig­or­ous with this un­til you feel puls­ing waves of en­ergy mov­ing through your body. Make your move­ments as wild and un­in­hib­ited as pos­si­ble. 4. Af­ter three to five min­utes of shak­ing slow it down. You have got chi mov­ing, have shaken off some of your old block­ages and con­di­tion­ing and ac­cessed new in­for­ma­tion. Now re­turn to your prob­lem solv­ing and see what hap­pens! ■


https://www.dru­gabuse.gov/ pub­li­ca­tions/drug­facts/na­tion­wide­trends https://blogs.sci­en­tifi­camer­i­can.com/

guest-blog/a-brief-guide-to-em­bod­ied­cog­ni­tion-why-you-are-not-your-brain/ http://www.artof­man­li­ness. com/2014/03/04/live-life-at-the-lim­it­show-to-hack-your-flow/

Con­nect with other read­ers & com­ment on this ar­ti­cle at www.liv­ing­now.com.au

Jost Sauer is a pub­lished au­thor, reg­is­tered acupunc­tur­ist, ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery ex­pert, mo­ti­va­tional speaker, lec­turer and healthy life­style guru who de­vel­oped the medic­i­nal Chi Cy­cle Life­style. Jost­sauer.com

Jost’s 24 hour chi cy­cle was pub­lished in its en­tirety in the Liv­ing­now an­nual, 2009. They were com­pletely sold out, but we re­cently found a box of an­nu­als in a cup­board! So we are very pleased to be able to of­fer them at $25 each, in­clud­ing postage. There are sev­eral left. Please email ad­ver­tis­ing@liv­ing­now.com.au or ring 1300 730 326.

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