Big Wave Surfing

Spicoli Triggers Evolution


Surfer dudes and ski bums are pushing the evolution of the human mind. Seriously.

It’s detailed in Steven Kotler’s fascinating book,  The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance.

James Altucher interviewed Kotler on his podcast and it was so interesting I had to read the book.

Kotler writes about extreme athletes like snowboarders, skateboarders, rock climbers, surfers, and base jumpers tapping into flow states to excel in their sports.

Their efforts are thrusting their sports forward because they must enter flow, or die. You can’t twist and turn and perform the amazing stunts these athletes do without shutting off everything but the connection to the Big Energy, or the One or Universal Mind or whatever you want to call it.

The difficulty of the feats these people are pulling off keeps increasing at an absurd pace. Much more than, say, gymnastics,  which also has twists, flips and turns but isn’t life threatening if you don’t nail the landing.

Kotler says that these athletes are forging ahead on the continuum of human potential and it has a positive effect on the planet. As more people witness amazing feats perception changes. Things that didn’t look possible, now seem within reach.

Can Anybody Achieve These High Performance Altered States?

Kotler says flow states are available to anybody, but it’s not easy to get there. You need activity or work that juices you and requires creative problem solving.

I would love to get into more flow states, but I’m not even sure what my vehicle to do it would be. There is creative problem solving at work, but I don’t know if it’s at a level to even skim the surface of flow. I bet I could write myself into a flow state with years and years of practice. Sounds daunting but might be a fun hobby to pursue.

Kotler says that programmers and even gamers can often get into the state. Musicians too. Makes sense. High concentration tasks seem to help push you through.

Aldous Huxley Was Wrong

Kotler appreciates Huxley’s work in exploring other dimensions or altered states, but says Huxley was wrong when he said the “doors of perception” where opened when he took psycedelics.

What neuroscientists have found is that parts of your mind shut down when you get into flow state. This makes sense. No more critical thinking. No more doubt and clutter. Just pure impulse triggered, perhaps, by a force or energy outside of you. Sounds kind of woo woo, but after reading the experiences of the athletes in The Rise of Superman, it makes total sense. Plus, science is starting to piece together experiments that point to this phenomenon being true.

Anyway, this was a fascinating book. Great stories about amazing human performance where the participants talk about time slowing down, and somehow knowing what to do next even if they had never encountered the scenario before. Quite cool. Want to know more? Kotler works with the Human Flow Genome project.

Of course, I’m not sure how I’m going to get myself into flow more often, but I’m going to search for ways that make sense for me and my interests and skills. You won’t find me flying down a mountain top or shredding a half pipe, but I can taste a little of this stuff in the comfort of my own office. Right?

Image credit:  flickr – jeffrowley

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