FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FUCK ON THE BEST DRUG COCKTAIL KNOWN TO MAN—AND IT’S MADE RIGHT IN YOUR BRAIN, NO DEALER REQUIRED. A LOOK AT THE SCIENCE BEHIND SUPERHUMAN PERFORMANCE AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE BEDROOM.
We’ve all heard athletes use the term in the zone when describing their feats du jour to a curvy blonde on the sidelines. But those words don’t do the latest and greatest athletic accomplishments justice. It’s a simplistic explanation of a complex process. Thanks to the study of exponential progress in sports, we can finally put these advances in perspective. In The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, bestselling author Steven Kotler explains what happens to the mind and muscles when, say, snowboarder Shaun White lands the very first cab 1080 double cork.
The buzzword we’ll be using is flow. As Kotler describes it in our interview, flow state is “an optimal state of consciousness wherein we feel our best and we perform our best…a moment of total absorption. Focus becomes so intense and you’re completely absorbed by the moment; action and awareness merge, self vanishes, and time dilates so it slows and/or speeds up. And throughout this all aspects of performance go through the roof.”
For someone like White, tapping into a flow state has become routine, as he’s been pushing the limits on a snowboard since he was seven years old. But how does the layman, sans a life-threatening adrenaline rush, find flow? Kotler lays out a blueprint:
“Flow has 17 triggers, preconditions that lead to more flow,” he says, referring to psychological, environmental, social and creative triggers. These include clear goals, intensely focused attention, immediate feedback, high consequences, good communication, risk and a sense of control. “Flow happens when focus is very intense and we’re totally present in the moment. All these triggers just drive attention into the now. You’re working with the body’s natural design, how evolutionary biology built us.”
A simpler way to think about this is to visualize the revolutionary special effects in the Wachowski Brothers’ The Matrix. Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, can dodge bullets because time appears to slow down. By no means are we endorsing flow as a way to walk into the middle of a shootout, but the concept is similar. When you block out all other distractions and focus only on one difficult task at hand, it allows your brain to maximize its natural abilities, which gives you near-superhuman potential.