Is your Education keeping you out of Flow state?

Super Conductor of Flow
To be a super conductor of flow, release that which does not match reality. Where could such be stored?

Emotions anchor memory, but at what cost?

How do we store experiences that we have not had?

Do certain types of emotion trick our biology into remembering concepts as though they were actual events?

Stories create emotion through empathy, this identification gives rise to emotion, creating memories that will effect future perception and action.

Lacking real experience,we use emotions to store abstract ideas. The type of emotions used are contractive rather than expansive and as they do not gel with reality they end up triggering the emotions we used to store them.

I also suspect that we store these ideas in our muscle memory. Specifically in our fascia, constantly triggering these programs, and releasing stress hormones without any real threat leads to calcification in the fascia, loss of posture and loss of focus. Making it harder to achieve flow states.

This may turn out to be inaccurate, but my reasoning is as follows:

Life is Movement

From single cell organisms to mammals with complex multi organ systems, timely information about environment is critical to function. When organisms can not sense accurately, they can not respond or allocate resources effectively to maintain internal order.

Relax or Contract

Limbs wings and fins are obvious examples of groups of cells working together to contact or relax, to provide motion.
To pump gasses and liquids, digest, hunt and harvest, to fight or flee, learn, signal and reproduce, cells must move.
The complexity and diversity of movement possible in the biosphere appears unlimited but it all arises from cells contracting and relaxing in unison.

Binary states

Among the ways cells sense and signal is via proteins on their membrane surfaces, these proteins are like locks waiting for the right keys. When cells are in contraction most of these key holes are full and the cells are blind to fresh stimuli until they relax again. ( This is a massive over-simplification but as a metaphor it may be useful).

Emotion is language

Sensitive nervous systems managing trillions of cells provide highly nuanced details of these states of contraction and relaxation. Language and Complex social interactions further broaden ‌cellular signal movements to include gestures sounds and smells.

Homo sapiens emerged about 70,000 years ago and our ability to use language to cooperate and share information vastly increased different possible emotions. Beneath all that, I see these emotions falling into two categories, contraction and relaxation.

Inappropriate tension is inappropriate memory
Contractive Emotions can correct poor behaviour, they are useful and unavoidable. Inappropriate tension is often anchored with emotion to release it, we need to let go of the story bounding it into our body’s.

Contract or Relax – Move or Feel

The language of contraction is dominated by instincts that correlate with defense, flight and fight, acquiring, consuming and mating. It’s all about survival, applying force and controlling risk. Contraction is action. Contraction without action can be seen as blocked energy or trauma.

The returning of relaxation defines the language of sensitivity. Allowing the possibilities of interaction, coordination, cooperation and even creativity. It’s all about using the incoming data for making fresh connections and expanding opportunities. About playfulness, coordination and learning. Relaxed tissues allow resonance.

Instincts and opinions

There are times when instincts save us and movement programs such as breathing, beating our hearts, digestion and even walking are essential. Patterns of movement become skills, when we add significant focus, those skills become extraordinary. When threatened, defence programs run automatically. They bypass my reason centers and take me straight into action.

Our biology can not distinguish between a real event and an imagined event. How I perceive or feel alters the chemical signals between my cells. My body responds to emotions, yet emotions that arise from thinking may be unrelated to the ‌movement around me.

Bad memories

When I experience danger or a threat, my body releases the emergency hormones of flight and fight. These hormones free resources and narrow my focus in preparation for instant and massive action.

When I have a false alert this energy remains unused. Energy normally allocated to immune response, metabolism, accurate protein synthesis and higher level thinking, is now available for action. What happens to this unused potential?

Fascia, the skin within and its role in memory

Our fascia or connective tissue is the white skin that coats our bones, it surrounds individual and groups of muscle fibers, nerves and blood vessels. Fascia forms an interconnected three dimensional web throughout our bodies, storing and releasing energy like a system of springs. I think of fascia as an extension of our nervous system, but like many of these ideas, that may not be strictly accurate.

The programmability of fascia plays a role in how we create and store muscle memories. Fascia/neurone memories are “chunks” of information, which we combine instinctively to perform simple and complex tasks from walking to windsurfing.

In its dormant or relaxed state, the fascia is flexible and its fibres glide easily across each other. When threatened, parts of the body contract to defend itself. With trauma, we create patterns of tension inappropriately, ‌and it can become permanent restriction that interferes with our posture.

Shaking Free

When a wild animal escapes a near death experience it will shake uncontrollably to reset all its signals back to the open and receptive state again. Similarly, we see dogs run in crazy circles to burn of the hormones of excess excitement. Crying also helps to shed excess hormones.

As we age, “toughen up” and stop being silly, we don’t disperse these action potentials, and things that continually upset us build patterns of tension that become locked into our fascia.

Blocked Energy

This stored contraction holds both the shape and the feeling that triggered it. Besides inviting disease, it becomes a body memory that will inhibit both skilled movement and how we sense our environment. It keeps us partially blind and more reliant on memories and programs.

Healers call this blocked or stuck energy. Releasing it physically may help, but usually we must also release the perception or story that carries the emotional charge.

Pure experience provided by our senses, can never provide the evidence to support stories of a seperate anything. As all is in relation and effects everything else, valuations and comparisons are human assumptions.

When we latch onto ideas or stories for the purpose of increasing our feeling of power, control, worthiness or advantage, or when we latch onto knowledge to defend, enhance or protect our “selves”, we must use emotion to anchor these “facts”.  Emotion provides a texture of tension that tricks our biology into feeling it is having a real world experience.

This accumulated tension creates an identity of self as seperate and keeps us moving in reactive semi-blind circles. The “seperate self” is in constant need of validation from other tribe members, to feel worthy, safe and connected. Much of our energy is spent in attention seeking, acquiring, improving or distracting the vague feeling of un-easiness created by this illusory seperate self.

Over thinking over

Our biology is not stupid, it says ” hey big fella, check out this feeling thats interrupting our cells – POW”. When that emotion arises we may accept it, suppress it, distract ourselves from it or react to it.

Reacting to it usually involves our minds inventing a version of events where we get to hang onto our belief and blame the bad feelings on something external. This replaying saps our focus, suppression saps our ability to feel that part of ourselves and both, keep us insensitive.

Loosing Sensation, feels like Separation

Being insensitive, reactive and walled off, destroys our ability to have healthy relationships. Leaving us unable to feel, even when people do accept and validate us. We mistake losing accurate sensation as the loss of connection and ironically may try even harder to seek attention, respect and validation.

Addictive behaviour traces back to the pain of feeling seperate. We are never ‌seperate until the decay process removes the order in our biology. We need to feel connection directly, the same way we need to learn things directly. Both are hindered by remaining in contraction.

Flow is
To go with our flow, we have to let go, trust unifies, it is the acceptance of death within the organism in order to maintain the flow of biology. This allows the possibility of graceful action and diversity of the life experience.

To grow with the Flow, I have to let go

I try not to get attached to concepts that I will not able to experience and test directly. Holding onto ideas that do not match the evidence of my senses creates conflict and emotional reactivity.

This stored emotional tension ruins my posture making sensitivity, graceful interaction, and fresh skill acquisition difficult.

Flow states and focused movement help us to release stuck signals, and more fully inhabit our bodies and relationships. Each of us is tuned to feel our world uniquely, by placing our attention into rich activities that fully engage our senses rebuilds our ability to focus and is another on-ramp into flow, into health and into freedom.

As usual this is deep and difficult to grasp, I hope you find it helpful. I suspect we live about 70 years because the journey of self understanding takes time to un-wind.

Fueling the Fire – Food and Flow

ketogenic diet for SUP
Zero Carb, High Intensity Training SUP Race Preparation Experiment

Food and Flow

Freemocean is about understanding and achieving flow states(1). I enjoy sharing my discoveries and deeper thoughts on this blog, my goal is to follow the trail of questions rather than get stuck on answers.

Flow states are peak experiences or altered states that humans (and many animals) can deliberately access to increase performance, happiness and creativity. Traditionally they were considered matters of spirituality and gurus usually associated attainment with abstinence of that which was deemed to be un-healthy or un ethical.

Over the last few decades we are seeing an acceleration in athletic, creative and intellectual performance being attributed to flow states. Altered consciousness, no longer solely the domain of mysticism, is rapidly flowering everywhere, where peak performance is essential.

I removed my opinionated posts about nutrition, but I continue to experiment with my own biology. Nutrition is not crucial to flow states, but I have found that higher energy levels and being able to move freely are powerful”on-ramps” into the flow state(2).

SUP Racing in Thailand
Allowing my body to maintain a posture of balance by absorbing the wave-form in the water is how I re-discovered flow states, inspiring me to write this blog. photo is from a SUP Race in Thailand, hosted by Amara Watersports Co. Ltd, where I work.

Identifying and removing the blocks to flow

First slavery, then our early technologies such as steam and oil have allowed economic forces to ignore the ecological requirements that sustain biodiversity. What this means is that we no longer needed move in synergy with nature to harvest, food, energy and raw materials.

The investments that followed have locked us into some poor harvesting strategies. Those strategies were supported by our cultures and much of that dogma became entrenched in academia. We find ourselves waking up daily to fixed overheads. They can only be met by participating in systems that keep us desensitised to the relationships present in our own biology.
With the the dawn of agriculture, how we eat and move changed radically over a 10,000 year period. Industrialisation rapidly took us even farther from direct connection with natures cycles. Fortunately the Information Age may be allowing us to re-explore and learn from our roots. To learn again that relation with biology was never a choice, but a necessity.
We can read or listen to ideas about being more in tune with our surroundings, but experience can only arise from action and feedback. When we get direct sensual feedback, then we understand, then we are in connection. Only then does action arise without the need to think, without the need to check in with memory and past perceptions. From here we can allow ‌flow.
meat and movement for flow states
Surprisingly, no plant based foods and a small amount of focused movement turned out to be great preparation for this event.

The move n’ meat Experiment

Amara Watersports hosted an SUP, (stand up paddle) race in early December 2016, I had been playing with the low glycemic diets, (low in sugar and other carbohydrates) for a few years by that time. I was using 45- 50 minute aerobic training in preparation for the 6km SUP event, where I came third. That was almost 4 months ago.
Since then I have been focusing on flexibility and intense body weight training using gymnastics rings and some animal movements (6). Beyond the odd windsurfing session, I have not done any aerobic type training. In the last 4 months, the longest I have paddled is about 1.5km, and only on two or three occasions.
I hardly move, but when I do, I ensure it demands strength and focus into my senses. ‌ High quality attention, but surprisingly little time spent in practice.
To suspended from more points, the foot bar is also free from the ground, . Now all the muscles coordinate, integrating more of the nervous system.

Not only did I stop exercising so much, In the last 4 months I started to reduce the amount of plants I was eating to simply onions, turmeric and pepper. In the last 6 weeks leading to my next race on, I began eating only raw grass fed beef once a day(5). In the week before the race I ate a few extra meals, mostly of sausages, cheese or bacon. (not an ideal Omega 3 to 6 fatty acid ratio, but affordable and accessible fat for fuel).

I joined the March 26th 2017 SUP STATION event(4) where nearly 50 boards crowding the start line. Despite eating, no fruit and no vegetables and doing no aerobic conditioning, I still managed a ‌solid third place in the 6km race.
This result ‌ surprised me. I did not think it possible to be in the lead pack without conditioning my body for long distance. The result obviously does not prove anything, but perhaps it does open the mind to what that our biology thrives on and what it does not ‌required at all. To enter flow state, we release assumptions, most especially ones that affirm self as seperate from the greater biology that envelopes this planet.

notes:

(1) I define “Flow” as direct and effortless bond with environment, though the senses. Opinions or thoughts of self as seperate create conflict and suck me out of flow instantly.

(2) “On-ramp”, a fantastic phrase borrowed from writer, Steven Kotler. Who provides a fantastic resource on the history, impact and biology of flow states in his books and on his website – The Flow Gnome Project

(3) Lowering Carbohydrate intake reduces insulin spikes and when reduced enough, leads to using dietary and or body fats instead of sugars for fuel, termed “nutritional ketosis”. My article – Oxygen and your DNA explores why that may be an interesting option

(4) SUP Station is an awesome business on the Chaophraya river near Bangkok, the owners are wonderfully intelligent and kind people. The event was so much fun and the skill of the racers is growing with each event. The trophies in the photo were made by Cobra international who also supported the event. SUP Brothers Bruno and Daniel hosted the event with the support of Starboard and NSP.

(5) I did break my own rules a few times, but all those exceptions would add up to far less plant based products than what most people eat in a single day.

(6) The Gymnastics rings I use are simple donut shapes hanging on adjustable length straps from a tree, another set up is some rope that washed in from the sea, it is has loops tied in either end and is also hanging over a tree branch. Animal movements emulate the motion of the bear, the monkey and the frog, they demand balance, build muscle and open joints. I only use them for a few minutes. I rarely practice movement for more than 20 minutes a day, though I am starting to do more intuitive stretching.

6 – Allow – there is no flow in-tension

freemocean-blog6art

Key Take-Away – Flow states allow us to resonate with complex patterns of information in real time. Fear has a physical tension component that inhibits our ability to access our senses, pulling us out of the moment and back into the world of meanings and the desire to control.

Business is about trying to control the flow of goods and information, of things and motivation. We need to do this to pay for our lives, but controlling is very different from flowing.

Looking out on the mirror-like ocean this morning, I recall that, feeling alive (feeling life), happens from a place of receptivity, rather than control.

The reason the wise keep returning our attention to the possibility of “Acceptance” is that it allows our tissues to return to optimal tension. From this place we can avoid much conflict simply by conforming to our shared reality.

Today, I will hold back less, I will respect and trust you to “resonate or re-designate” how you spend the next few minutes.

Drunk people may fall a lot, but get hurt surprisingly little. That is because it is the sudden stop that hurts. Absorbing impact is expensive, allowing force to be expended elsewhere is usually preferable. Ocean swell is bounced against land and cancelled against itself, in so doing it turns rock into sand. If water is unable to transfer the energy, it would changes to a gas. Our bodies do not have that luxury, if we tense inappropriately, if we resist too much, we swell and become toxic.

Energy moves in waveforms. The properties of the waveform, pitch, frequency, magnitude, shape and trajectory, don’t just contain information, they are information. Since the measurable beginning, the matter of the universe is moving towards dis-order, scientists call this entropy. Life, however, moves in the opposite direction. Biodiversity, keeps energy in formation, in ever more complex  patterns of inter-relation.
Our bodies are made of organs, made of tissues, formed by cells. Each cell, (apart from red blood cells) contains DNA containing a range of possible expressions. Each cell has the ability to sense and react, but it operates as part of the larger community of the organism. The integrity of the organism depends on its ability to organize effectively. For this it requires fuel, spare parts and most of all, accurate information about where and how to acquire, synthesize and distribute that energy and those components.

You see – It’s always been the Information Age, but it’s moving fast, it’s flowing and it can only be accessed in real time. What we call knowledge is a snap-shot, a fragment, a tiny piece of a much larger pattern.

Social creatures, such as dogs and humans have access to something called “flow state”. It allows us to synchronize with a much larger bandwidth of changing data. To access flow state, we synch with our environment through our senses. To stay there, we cease to resist, we judge risk but do not over-react with pre-programmed fear responses. Our internal commands, move in synch with external patterns, we use energy with grace, our co-ordination and our communication move towards optimal.

This is what I was speaking of as “aliveness”, it’s the experience of being the flow of life, and yes, of death also. Energy can not be destroyed, but it can loose form, it can loose information, loose it’s place in the formation, move back towards separation.

Our highest calling is to resonate with the flow of life, to add the data contained in our unique perspective to the total. Flow is the “co” in communication. The senses of each individual add depth and complexity to our shared reality. If we pull back in fear, if we pollute the data of our senses with our opinions, the thread we add to the tapestry is tangled, the formation is mangled.
Sand dunes, like water are moved by the wind, as their bonds are supple, they embody the waveform, are shaped by the waveform, store the information of the waveform. We could say that the pattern of the dunes, contains sand particles that are “in formation”.

Tense or Allow, Flow or Resist, Move or be moved. When we tense we absorb energy but we alter the information, we impact the flow. We need not do this like a billiard ball that goes on to disrupt. Posture allows us to behave more like bamboo, more like a sea anemone.

If we can maintain our relative position but allow ourselves to be swayed like a sea anemone, we may filter what we require, energy, parts and information, without being cast adrift or breaking formation.

Of course I speak in metaphors. The idea of freemocean is to share understanding through experience, rather than control with ridged opinion. I aim to inspire you to experience your posture in real motion, rather than manipulate your position through stories and emotion.

Stand rigid on a board, or walk with stiff legs, notice how much your head moves and what that does to your focus. Now allow all below your eyes to sway, maintaining just enough tension to keep your head over your base of support. Experience the difference, notice how much energy each requires, how much impact your body must withstand.

Notice how tension effects your focus, and how your focus effects your tension. Your Focus determines the quality of your posture.  Your posture determines how well you use energy and how well you respond to data. Your ability to choose and maintain your direction is determined by your ability to hold your focus.

We are able to maintain our focus to the degree that we can release excessive tension. That is why our Attention is so precious, it determines the quality of our posture. Our posture determines how we are moved, how we receive energy, how we receive and transmit information. Fear pulls us out of flow, because it resists what might happen next. When we fear we try to control, when we flow, we receive more information about what is really unfolding.

Now consider the cost of excessive and inappropriate fear. You see now why   stories are so powerful, they determine formation, by altering how we receive information. We live in a world where we rarely interact with nature directly, everything is controlled. The more we control, the less we are free to flow.

Freedom is appropriate tension, it arises from returning focus to our senses, allowing our posture to move with gracefully with the forces at play.

Loss of focus, loss of posture, ignorance of connection, reinforces the embodiment of fear, this is when information becomes inflammation.

Freedom is proportional to situational awareness. The toys we rent, sell and buy are bio-feedback devices, that can be used to bring greater awareness to focus and posture in the forgiving and dynamic environment of ocean and wetlands. Water is a great teacher of flow.