Slow Down Your Brain to Get More Done, with Steven Kotler | Big Think

Slow Down Your Brain to Get More Done, with Steven Kotler | Big Think

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Slow Down Your Brain to Get More Done, with Steven Kotler
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The best-selling author discusses hypofrontality — literally the slowing of the brain’s prefrontal cortex — and how it allows one to enter an optimal state of consciousness, known as flow. As Kotler explains, flow refers to those moments of total absorption when we get so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears.

Steven Kotler is an award-winning journalist, a New York Times bestselling author, and executive director of Flow Research Collective. His books include the non-fiction works The Rise of Superman, Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus, and the novel The Angle Quickest for Flight. His works have been translated into over 30 languages. His articles have appeared in over 60 publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, Wired, GQ, Popular Science, and Discover.

His latest book, co-authored with tech CEO Peter Diamandis, is Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.

Steven Kotler: Flow is technically defined as an optimal state of consciousness. A state of consciousness where we feel our best and we perform our best. It refers to those moments of total absorption when we get so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears. So our sense of self, our sense of self-consciousness, they vanish. Time dilates which means sometimes it slows down. You get that freeze frame effect familiar to any of you who have seen the matrix or been in a car crash. Sometimes it speeds up and five hours will pass by in like five minutes. And throughout all aspects of performance, mental and physical, go through the roof. Underneath the flow state is a complicated mass of neurobiology. There are fundamental changes in neuroanatomy – just where in the brain something’s taking place, neurochemistry and neuroelectricity which is the two ways the brain communicates with itself. The most prominent of this is the neuroanatomical changes.

So the old idea about ultimate performance flow is what’s known as the ten percent brain math. The idea that we’re only using ten percent of our brain at any one time so ultimate performance must obviously be the full brain firing on all cylinders. And it turns out we had it exactly backwards. Inflow parts of the brain aren’t becoming more hyperactive, they’re actually slowing down, shutting down. The technical term for this is transient, meaning temporary, hypo frontality. Hypo – H – Y – P – O – it’s the opposite of hyper means to slow down, to shut down, to deactivate. And frontality is the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that houses your higher cognitive functions, your sense of morality, your sense of will, your sense of self. All that shuts down so, for example, why does time pass so strangely in flow? Because David Eagleman discovered that time is calculated all over the prefrontal cortex. When parts of it start to wink out we can no longer separate past from present from future and we’re plunged into what researchers call the deep now.

Transient hypofrontality is interesting. It was discovered back in the nineties and it had a very negative connotation so it was found in schizophrenics and drug addicts. And then in the early two thousands Aaron Dietrich who was then at Georgia Tech discovered or hypothesized that transient hypofrontality actually underpins every altered state – dreaming, meditation, flow, drug addiction – it doesn’t really matter. And then in 2007, 2008 Charles Limb at Johns Hopkins working with first jazz musicians and second with rappers was looking at flow in those contexts and found that the prefrontal cortex was shutting down as well. Though depending on the altered state you get different parts are shut down like in flow. One of the most prominent examples is the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. It shuts down. This is the part of the brain that houses your inner critic, that nagging defeatist always on voice in your head turns off in flow. And as a result we feel this is liberation right. We are finally getting out of our own way. We’re free of ourselves. Creativity goes up. Risk taking goes up and we feel amazing.

My mission for the past 15 years has been sort of to reclaim flow research from the hippie community, from the new age community and put it back on a really hard science footing. And really what that took was flow research has been going on continuously at kind of both here and in the United State and Europe all over…

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  1. A Zen master visiting New York City goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, "Make me one with everything."
    The hot dog vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill.
    The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it. "Excuse me, but where’s my change?" asks the Zen master.
    The vendor responds, "Change must come from within."

  2. Reading the comments on here many are asking how to quiet the mind. 1) Step away to a quiet place – it could be shutting yourself indoors, waking an hour early, or heading to a beach, a hotel, a lake or river…anywhere you can be alone and quiet. 2) NO CELLPHONES – turn them off. 3) Just breathe to begin with, pay attention to your breathing. 4) Journal your thoughts… if you really want to, otherwise be still and enjoy the quiet moment.

  3. ‌John 3:16 Modern English Version (MEV)

    ‌16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    ‌John 14:6New International Version (NIV)

    ‌6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    ‌John 20:28King James Version (KJV)

    28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

    1 John 2:22King James Version (KJV)

    22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

  4. For ADHD, dyslexia, mind racing, one group of schizophrenia, the inverted yoga poses will cure them. The poses are sarvangasana,sirasasana,halasana,ardha sirasasana,camel pose,chakrasana,viparidhakarani. There exist science behind this. Please convey this to all who needs recovery

  5. Anyone know what the nameof the video is thats animated amd describes the distracting flow of thoughts as being a stream and you lay next to it and watch them float by?

  6. When he says you only use 10% of your brain, could this be because whenever we gather data of brain activity, each participant is aware they are being experimented or watched?

  7. If they’ve only consulted the United States and Europe, how can they possibly be getting the full scope of ideas on this topic? There are so many indigenous communities and schools of thought that contain answers to questions that maybe this Euro-centric community never even thought to ask.

  8. If you have flow that you really want in your life, spend lots of time tripping about it. The more you trip the more ideas will pop up the more creative your gonna start to get. Your subconscious mind doesn't care if your vision is trippy. It doesnt care if you dont know how to do it.
    When you see a thing clearly in your mind, your creative "trip mechanism" within you takes over and does the job much better than you could do it by conscious effort or willpower.
    A different psychedelic from a different planet every nanosecond.
    All sorts of dreams are possible.
    The human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an "actual" experience and an experience imagined vividly and in detail.
    Synthesize "experience," to literally create experience, and trip it, in the laboratory of our minds.
    A vision is a very trippy image, the most trippy image that you can come up with for yourself at this time. This vision will become like a hallucination in other peoples mind and this could be the cause of them creating extraordinary things.