What Sports and Science Says About Superconsciousness
Flow is an optimal state of consciousness, total absorption, says science journalist Steven Kotler about his new book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance and author of West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origin of Belief. In flow, Kotler says, you get so sucked totally into the task or moment at hand that everything else disappears from your consciousness. Sounds like meditation to me, or what the goal or aim of meditation is supposed to be. Not convinced? Read on and you will discover what scientists and Kotler call flow is essentially a transcendent state of consciousness.
Characteristics of the flow state, include:
Timelessness: You get lost in a “zone”. Hours pass. Time dilates. You may feel as though time stops, but you are aware and can link past, present, future into one. Your sense of self vanishes. Your inner critic goes away.
Peak performance: Body and mind unite effortlessly. Your performance in the flow state pushes your physical and mental boundaries beyond what you previously thought possible. You obtain a sense of liberation, freedom.
Heightened awareness: You are laser focused, effortlessly. You have super awareness and may experience the remnants as bliss or heightened awareness for several days after your flow experience.
The Voice (of intuition): In flow state, you hear a “voice”. That voice comes to you as thoughts, sounds, and images. These voices guide you, give you creative ideas, direct your actions effortlessly. Kotler shares in an interview with The Accidental Creative podcast, that when he was writing a book, he hit a wall and stopped writing for months. But later, when he resumed his writing he felt the last 200 pages were “dictated” to him in a flow state. Similar “dictation” appears with Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God. Walsch claims god converses and writes through him.
Neurochemistry and The Flow of Meditation
Science can show the neurochemistry of “flow”. (You can learn about flow and the brain chemicals involved here). In ordinary consciousness, when you are not in the flow state, your brain uses it’s local area network or prefrontal cortex. This is the “logical” or standard operating system of the brain. In flow, our brain makes network connections beyond the prefrontal cortex, accesses unconscious data, makes novel links with memories, and then new pathways or insights emerge. Intuitions. Certain chemicals, like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, are released in the brain.
Scientists call the timelessness experienced by a person in flow states the “elongated now” or the “deep now”. Interestingly, mindfulness or focusing in the present moment is an experience sought by millions of modern Yogis, Buddhists, and New Agers.
The characteristics of “flow” fit nicely with descriptions of superconsciousness that Paramahansa Yogananda, a famous modern yogi, writes about in his Autobiography of a Yogi. The yogis seek heightened awareness or superconsciousness, hearing “the voice” of intuition, and experiencing a transcendent timeless bliss. There are uncanny similarities between the characteristics and neurochemistry of “flow” and what the yogis say they experience in meditation as superconsciousness, bliss, god or soul.
Supermen Flow With Superconsciousness
Yoga meditation may be one way to achieve flow states, or, as Yogananda calls it, superconsciousness. “Supermen–those who live in the superconscious state–use their intuition in everything they do”, wrote Yogananda. We also can experience intuition and the characteristics of “flow” or superconsciousness through the practice of sports, art, or work. It’s not what we do, but how we do it. (See my blog post on Hacking The Flow).
Questions for readers: Do you have rituals to cultivate your intuition or creativity? In moments of heightened awareness, do you “hear” an inner voice?
The Accidental Creative. Creativity, Innovation, and Doing Brilliant Work. Podcast: Steven Kotler on Achieving “Flow”, published, Mar 13, 2014. Web.
Kotler, Steven. Website. http://www.stevenkotler.com/ 18 Mar 2014. Web.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. “How To Develop Creative Intuition”. Self-Realization Fellowship Lesson #77. Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons. Los Angeles: CA.