What is Flow?
Steven Kottler and Jamie Wheal want you experience flow. What, exactly, is flow, you might ask, and why do I want to experience it? Flow is “being in the zone.” It happens when you drop into a sweet line whether on a mountain, the ocean, single track, or wherever. I happens when your mind calms and your body takes over.
You become one with the task. You stop thinking, you lose track of time, and you ride that perfect line between your skill level and the challenge at hand. In other words, flow is happiness itself.
Not only do athletes experience flow. Artists, musicians, writers, computer programmers, surgeons–anyone can reach flow states.
A while back, I interviewed the father of flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, who invented the idea of flow.
Kottler and Wheal are taking Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas to the next level. They are combining the work of scientists and neurologists studying flow with the athletes and flow-hackers out there getting into the zone on a regular basis.
They state their mission on their website:
Flow Genome Project is a trans-disciplinary, international organization committed to mapping the genome of Flow by 2020 and open sourcing it to everyone
In essence, the guys at the Flow Genome Project want to make this most elusive and wonderful of physical/mental states available to every one of us. They want to map the “deep science of ultimate human performance.”
Who are these guys?
Steven Kottler is the Director of Research at the Flow Genome Project. He’s an author and journalist. His book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, maps out how extreme athletes use flow to perform amazing feats and how everyone–even non-athletes–can use flow to improve their lives. This book is an excellent read, conjuring many of the usual suspects in the extreme sports world. Not only are these athletes performing creative feats, they are doing so at an unprecedented level of progression. Kottler explains why in this book.
Jamie Wheal is the Director of Programs at Flow Genome. He is a leading expert on the neuro-somatics of ultimate human performance and leads a team of the world’s top scientists, athletes and artists dedicated to reverse-engineering the genome of the peak-performance state known as Flow.
Check out this video that explains their project.
How Can I Get Involved?
This is where it gets cool. Kottler and Wheal want you to join them. They need your flow experiences to create their open-source flow study.
Here’s what it says on their website:
Tell us about your best flow experience. Use your iPhone. Use your webcam. Use your Go-Pro. Use any video device you have available. Create a short video detailing your most poignant, powerful, mind-blowing, changed-my-life-forever flow state experience, then send it to us.
You don’t have to record yourself in the flow state, just record yourself talking about it. They have some specific questions they want you to answer. Check out their page for all the details.
What’s in it for Me?
The guys at Flow Genome have a few exciting innovations up their sleeves. Number one, they hope to create Flow Dojos. Defined as a hands-on science museum meets Cirque du Soleil, the Flow Dojo will mimic extreme sports feats (without the risk) while capturing your body-brain data to see how and when you get into flow. The idea is for individuals to learn how to jump-start the flow process, so you can access it in your real life.
Still with me? Good. Now’s your chance to find out what kinds of experiences best launch you into flow. Check on the Flow Profile image below to take the quiz. Kottler and Wheal seem pretty serious about getting all of us into flow more often. I, for one, applaud their efforts. Now go out and find some flow.