Episode 88 – Jamie Wheal – Flow States, Creativity, Consciousness (Co-Author: Stealing Fire)

“To forget oneself — to lose oneself in the music, in the moment — that kind of absorption seems to be at the heart of every creative endeavor.” ~ Dani Shapiro, author

Jamie Wheal is co-founder and executive director of the Flow Genome Project (FGP), and a leading expert on the neuro-somatics of ultimate human performances. He, along with Steven Kotler, featured in HXP podcast episode 58, discussing his book The Rise of Superman.

The FGP picks up where renowned Hungarian Flow Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, left off, after decades of studies on flow that began in the 1960s. Flow is that state of nirvana where time goes into slow motion, the nagging “self” vanishes, and action and awareness merge. At FGP, Wheal leads a team of the world’s top scientists, athletes, and artists dedicated to reverse-engineering the genome of peak performance. Clients and research partners include the military, Fortune 500 companies, business schools, Young President’s Organization (YPO), and world class athletes from the Red Bull teams, among others. The FGP has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, TEDtalks, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes and Time, to name a few.

Wheal’s (& Kotler’s) book Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing The Way We Live, is due to be released on February 21, 2017.

Flow Me The Way

Wheal always sought to go deeper in life, no matter what his pursuit. In a 2013 TEDtalk in Venice Beach, California, he spoke candidly about what brought him to where he is today. He said he felt that something was always missing from his own human experience and said that he “wasn’t feeling alive.” This threw him into an inner battle with his family’s demons: Depression, Addiction and Suicide. He experimented with things, drugs, that could “blow up or numb out that sense of separation,” he said.

During one of his funks, a friend came to his place and told him to get up, get some fresh air, and go windsurfing. After some coaxing, Wheal agreed, only if his friend would carry him to the car. He recalls his frustrating attempts at windsurfing and thought the day was a waste and sending him into a deeper funk. Then, a miracle occurred. A whoosh of wind woke up his sail and righted his board. As he picked up speed, the board rose onto its props. He had the most amazing fluke of a ride that put him in a place where he felt completely alive. He came to know it as the flow —  that place where time slows, the self vanishes, and action and awareness merge.

Since Wheal’s wild ride and brief encounter with blissful suspended animation, he’s sought to reverse-engineer the process to make it consciously available to those who seek it. Science and research has taught Wheal and Kotler that flow is a beneficial thing. It releases five of the most potent neuro-chemicals for motivation, learning, and well-being — norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and oxytocin.

The three big ideas of flow that are proven through research:

1). Flow silences our inner critic (selfless). Why? Because of a neuroscience phenomenon called “transient hypo frontalitly”, which, Wheal explains, translates to “for a little while”, not a lot of neocortex anxiety.

2). Flow accelerates the path of mastery (effortless). The Navy SEALs knocked out the neocortex and cut their lean time in half.

3). Flow is hackable. (timeless).

Stealing Fire

Wheal’s cohort, Kotler, told Mind Power News, that “flow was the most desirable state on Earth, but it’s also the most elusive.”

Wheal and Kotler want to change that and make accessing flow less of a mystery. “Driven by four accelerating forces — psychology, neurobiology, technology, and pharmacology,” Wheal explains, “we are gaining access to and insights about some of the most contested and misunderstood terrain in history.”

Wheal’s upcoming book, Stealing Fire, is a “provocative examination of what’s actually possible,” he said.

So, why have we not found this sooner? Why do people rarely find themselves in the flow? Wheal explains in FGP’s Flow Fundamentals: “Unfortunately, life wrings the flow right out of us. There are constant distractions dragging us away from the effortless focus and deep satisfaction of being lost in the moment.”

The concept is deeply important to Wheal and Kotler, as they set out on their mission long ago to help people escape their self-imposed prisons — if only for a few fleeting moments. But they also want us to learn how to access it so that we are all better off in the grand scheme of things. It’s about transcendence — “being in those moments where everything clicks, our critic shuts off and life is joyful and effortless and inspired,” Wheal said.

He wants to learn to reach those peak states and turn them into “abiding stages of growth and development,” he said. “Because, that, to me, felt like the rocket fuel and everything else felt like a slug.”

A quote from civil rights activist Howard Thurman sticks in his mind as a battle cry:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that! Because what the world needs is more of us — all of us — to come alive.”


You will LOVE this book: Click to purchase!


THE 411:

Official website

Jamie’s About Me


FGP videos

FGP flow fundamentals

TED Venice Beach

FlowGrade blog

Steven Kotler’s official website

Going With The Flow — Of Interest …:

What Is Flow? from VeryWell

Achieving Flow from VeryWell

How To Use Mindfulness and Flow To Trigger To Learn Faster”

Hack Flow from MindPowerNews

We rely on listener support!!

Get exclusive access to the members-only content area of what we do at HXP. If you value even one of our shows, this members area will give you the juicy secrets of our guests it also helps us sustain and scale the show up! Become a member by clicking HERE or Donate.

Like what you hear? Leave us a review on iTunes. Email us (after you review) and enter to win a free prize.

Share Button

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *