A few years ago, I had writer Steven Kotler on the show to talk about his book, The Rise of Superman, which is all about the science of flow — that state of being fully immersed in the energy and enjoyment of an activity. Since then, Steven has worked with high-level athletes, tech CEOs, and even Navy SEALs as part of his Flow Genome Project, an organization dedicated to helping individuals tap into flow states using the latest psychological research and technology.
After rubbing shoulders with various performers, Steven learned that there’s an underground movement of individuals who aren’t just looking to flow to improve performance, but also to a state that Steven calls ecstasis. His latest book shares the research behind this performance-enhancing mental state and the extreme measures some folks are taking to get into it. The book is called Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work.
Today on the show, Steven shares what ecstasis is and why it improves performance in sports, business, and even military combat. He then goes on to describe the four accelerating forces in science that allow individuals to hack into ecstasis more easily, including things like mind-altering drugs and zapping your brain with electricity. Pretty crazy stuff. We end the show discussing how average Joes can get into ecstasis as well as the ethical implications of these new technologies. Are we bringing in a brave new world here, literally?
If you want a glimpse of what’s coming into the world of performance enhancement in the next 20 years, you’re not going to want to miss this show.
- How Steven’s new book, Stealing Fire, continues the work of The Rise of Superman
- The various altered states that people enter to increase productivity and efficiency
- What is “ecstasis,” as well as its traits and characteristics
- What the brain is doing in the midst of ecstasis
- What is it that keeps humans from reaching top performance without intentionality and help?
- Why does “turning off the self” solve some critical challenges in productivity and creativity?
- How ecstasis boosts our brain’s information processing capabilities
- The ways that ancient peoples used to enter into ecstasis
- Modern insights and technologies that allow people today to more easily and reliably tap into ecstasis
- The 4 forces of ecstasy
- How pharmacology and modern drugs are changing how people get into ecstasis
- The research behind micro-dosing psychedelics like LSD and peyote(!)
- How other activities can get you into the same states as drugs
- Blending — “stacking” — ecstasis techniques to get the most bang for your buck
- Electric shock therapy and flow (including my own experience with it!)
- Why the military and high-powered tech CEOs are interested in what happens at Burning Man
- What is “group flow”?
- The risks that surround all this new research
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- My podcast with Steven about flow
- Living Life at the Limits: How to Hack Your Flow
- The Flow Genome Project
- Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
- A Primer on Meditation
- Using Biofeedback to Become More Resilient
- Be a Time Wizard: How to Slow Down and Speed Up Time
- Mircea Eliade and Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
- Paul Ekman and Micro Expressions
- The new science and research of psychedelics
- Michael Mithoefer’s MDMA research
- Burning Man
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- John C. Lilly
Stealing Fire provides some fantastic insights about the future of performance enhancement. While I probably won’t be dropping LSD anytime soon, Steven provides other research-backed options that I’m exploring to work at my highest level. Pick up a copy on Amazon.
Connect With Steven Kotler
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